As a new year begins, the media always expend a good bit of ink and airtime reviewing who won and who lost the previous year — and there’s no doubt that because Mitt Romney blew his campaign for president by running a content-free campaign, establishment Republicans were the big losers of 2012.
However, for a different reason, conservatives didn’t fare so well either.
With substantial numbers of Americans backing conservative positions on the growth of government, balancing the budget, and traditional values, it seemed like we entered 2012 lacking only one thing: leadership.
Many conservatives hoped that the 2012 election cycle would bring forth such a leader — it didn’t.
And let’s face it, to advance any great endeavor — be it political, religious, business, social, etc. — effective leaders are necessary.
Yes, we need more money, more conservative organizations, more conservative publications and websites, more TV and talk radio . . . but those things always come if we have great and effective leadership in the conservative movement.
During my 50-plus years of involvement in the conservative movement at the national level, we have been blessed to have a number of great leaders to help us advance our cause.
Men and women of great principle, integrity, and intelligence such as William F. Buckley, Jr., William Rusher, Phyllis Schlafly, Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and others gave our movement the leadership that it needed to grow and advance our ideas.
However, over the past 50 years, the conservative movement didn’t grow in a vacuum where our leaders were the only voices in the public square. America had leadership in virtually every walk of life.
Through their writing and teaching, W. Edwards Deming, and “In Search of Excellence” authors Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. provided the intellectual leadership to encourage a culture of excellence and achievement in American business.
Sam Walton created the world’s largest private employer with the philosophy that, “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
The left also had leaders of principle and personal integrity, such as labor leaders George Meany and Walter Reuther, who opposed communism and corruption with equal fervor.
Where are those kinds of leaders today?
When I look around at the conservative movement — and indeed American society in general — it seems to me that our greatest need is for leaders of integrity and principle. These are men and women who will put the good of the country before the next newspaper headline or next quarter’s results.
Unfortunately, it looks like we conservatives ended 2012 the same way we began — without that kind of leadership. Or have we?
Yes, the conservative presidential candidates were carpet-bombed into oblivion by a candidate who we now find out from his son didn’t even want to be president.
However, the 2012 election did bring three new principled small-government constitutional conservatives into the United States Senate: Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
2012 brought Catholic and Protestant religious leaders, however reluctantly, off the sidelines and into the battle against the abortion and contraception mandate in Obamacare.
2012 also brought business leaders, such as Papa John’s Pizza CEO John Schnatter forward to tell it like it is about the cost of Obamacare.
2012 also forced leadership on four conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Justin Amash, Walter Jones, and David Schweikert — who were all ousted from their committee posts because they voted and spoke against Speaker Boehner’s constant abandonment of conservative principles.
We can’t say that we don’t have ANY leaders. We just don’t have enough.
What we need are more business leaders like Chick-fil-A’s Dan Cathy and his father S. Truett Cathy, who built a successful business following Christian principles, such as not being open on Sunday, and who have the integrity to support and encourage the biblical definition of marriage even in the face of liberal attempts to wreck their business.
We need more principled Christian business leaders like David Green of Hobby Lobby, who in the wake of the Obamacare abortion mandate, announced that he would sue the government in an attempt to void the mandate on the grounds of religious belief and freedom of conscience.
We need more church leaders like Bishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas who instructed former Kansas governor, now U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius not to go to the communion rail because of her public support for abortion and her opposition to pro-life legislation.
We need more elected officials like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who put himself on the side of Wisconsin’s hard-pressed taxpayers and faced down a year-long effort by the left to not just defeat his ideas, but to destroy him personally.
When Ronald Reagan was a Democrat and head of the screen actors union, no one could have foreseen that one day he would be elected president as a Republican. Sure, you need certain raw materials — such as intelligence and integrity — but most leaders aren’t born, they grow into the role, sometimes slowly, sometimes reluctantly, and sometimes because history thrusts the job upon them.
As we start a new year, we conservatives should make one resolution to put at the top of our list: to cultivate more leaders of intelligence, integrity and principles, not just in politics, but in every walk of life.
Richard A. Viguerie pioneered the use of direct mail in politics. He made it possible for candidates and causes to raise money from millions of small contributors rather than from a few “fat cats.” Read more reports from Richard Viguerie — Click Here Now.
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