The EFM Feature

Nancy, thanks for the props, but I fear you’re biased. For interested readers, here’s the Maggie Gallagher post that triggered my observations in yesterday’s Corner. Maggie’s main point directly bears on our experience here on EFM:

It’s simple. Social conservatives have had bad models for political action. We’ve depended on two basic strategies, and neither of them work very well:

1. The Mass-Uprising Model. “The people will rise up and throw off their oppressors spontaneously.” Well, it’s nice when it happens, but it’s hardly a plan, is it?

2. The Secular-Messiah Model: Join with others in the GOP to elect a godly man to office and then expect him to solve all your problems for you. This last model resulted in me fielding calls from reporters about whether or not I thought Bush was responsible for failing to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment — at a time when the poor man was 33 percent in the polls. Gay-rights groups don’t behave like this. They understand it’s their job to make it easy for politicians to do what they ask, not the other way around.

Since Mitt burst on the national scene in 2005/2006, we have been flooded with vitriol from social conservatives who have argued that he is somehow “responsible” for same-sex marriage because he didn’t lead some kind of popular uprising amongst Massachusetts conservatives after the state supreme court’s decision.

This critique embodies both of the flaws Maggie identifies above. According to Mitt’s critics, we didn’t need a “mere” man of integrity opposing an undemocratic action through lawful, democratic means, we apparently needed a Great Leader to lead a Popular Uprising.

However, we conservatives need leaders, not Leaders. We need movements, not Movements. We’re the ones who are supposed to doubt the wisdom of the crowd and to understand the profound limits of men and governments (modesty is one the things I most like about Mitt.)

Great point, Maggie. May we take it to heart.

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