WASHINGTON, March 27, 2013 — It never seems to stop. Every time conservatives think they’ve found a perfect “leader,” disappointment follows.
Conservatives are looking for their own Barack Obama. Many conservatives are hoping for the resurrection of Ronald Reagan. They are looking for that person who seems to agree with them 100 percent of the time. But what they are finding nowadays is that the only perfect person is Jesus Christ.
The latest episode of hero worship happened recently: Dr. Ben Carson, recently discovered and immediately brought into the conservative fold because of a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. During that speech, Carson openly expressed his objection to the Affordable Care Act, while President Obama sat just feet away. For some reason this made Carson a conservative hero, and the worshiping began. But is the romance over?
What I always knew about Carson was that he is a free thinker. So it does not surprise or disappoint me that he and I don’t think in a weird “ditto-head” lock-think way. As a matter of fact, I am pretty happy that this has come up, because this political personality hero worship has to stop.
Dr. Carson is the perfect example of why “purity” tests are destructive. Were the founders that so many conservatives think they are modeling themselves after all on the same page all of the time? History answers with an emphatic “no!” Many fights and much compromise were needed to forge 13 squabbling colonies into a nation. So why are the same conservatives who were ready to make Carson president in 2016 suddenly hurt and disappointed?
It is sad and simple, and it points to the danger of the continued focus on personalities, as well as litmus-test politics. When someone takes a prominent stand that seems conservative or common sense on a hot-button political issue, like-minded conservatives jump on it and crown that person that person new Reagan – this on the basis of a single policy position! This is particularly true if the person says anything negative about President Obama. This elevation of personality is a very bad media strategy; it makes conservatives appear desperate for someone, anyone who will agree with them and who will attack Obama.
Bill Cosby was awesome as long he was pointing his finger in the face of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. But when he walked into the voting booth with a picture of his parents and voted for Barrack Obama, he turned out not to be the conservative superstar that had been lighting up conservative television shows and blogs for weeks. More hero worship gone awry.
Now Carson is at the National Prayer Breakfast and seems to stick it in Obama’s face on any number of issues. But Obamacare took cake! The good doctor not only said in so many words that Obamacare was NOT what we should do, he offered such a common-sense and understandable solution it seemed he was trying to embarrass the president. Those 27 minutes of video exploded across the conservative blogosphere. Carson was in demand by every Fox News evening show.
And so it was was until Carson, the free-thinking Dr. Ben Carson, appeared on the Glenn Beck Show.
When asked by Glenn Beck if people should be allowed to own semi-automatic weapons, Carson replied, “It depends on where you live. I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it.”
Bang, that was it! Suddenly conservatives were falling off the Carson train in droves. One issue made him a conservative hero, and one issue meant he wasn’t conservative after all. Litmus-test conservatives couldn’t see their way through this issue to supporting him anymore. The sign on the door should be, “Free-Thinkers Not Welcome!”
Now I know most of you are screaming, “Willie, this man doesn’t support the second amendment. RINO!!” But, did anyone really hear what he said? Did they listen to his reasoning, or did they only hear him mispronounce a shiboleth? He said, that in highly populated areas he was afraid the weapons might get into the wrong hands. Aren’t we all? His conclusions don’t match mine but, I am not ready to walk away from someone who says so much I agree with.
This will be the challenge for conservatives and Republicans in the coming months. Will we be able to work with and for people with whom we have points of disagreement, or will we demand ideological purity? Will 80 percent be enough? Or will Republicans and conservatives end up on the trash heap of history with the self-inflicted wounds of internal strife?
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