The Failure of Conservatism in Sterling Heights
I’ve just finished reading a blog post on RedState’s website which is directly applicable to the circumstances here in Sterling Heights. The conservative movement has failed to take root here for a variety of reasons that are similar to what the writer describes on the national level: people are unwilling to be realistic, pragmatic, and work toward compromise.
One of the common complaints I have seen about Councilman Michael Taylor is that he is not doing what his (presumably conservative) supporters want him to do. Instead of standing on principle, he has been willing to entertain allowing the Fire Department to provide ambulance transport services, for example. His very public stand on social issues, such as his support for gay marriage, rubs the right-wing voters the wrong way.
Although his supporters are entitled to their objections, it seems they have forgotten something important: none of the people on council ran for election to become anyone’s puppet. If a person is willing to expend the time, money and effort required to achieve elected office, they’re entitled to bring their own thoughts, agendas and opinions to the job once they’re sworn in. True, they should listen to their constituents and act in their best interests, but representation does not mean blindly parroting what some part of the electorate wants said. We select our politicians based on what they say they will do, and we understand that most of them are complete human beings with minds of their own, pet ideas, preferences, and yes, contradictions. Nobody is ideologically pure.
What I have seen among my fellow conservatives in town is very much a reflection of what the RedState article’s author describes: we’re a group that is not in power, yet is unwilling to compromise because we feel we’re fighting a battle against evil. In our case, the evil seems to be labor unions and taxes, two things that are guaranteed to not go away anytime soon. Rather than accept this fact, conservative-minded folks bore us with seemingly endless diatribes at council meetings about how expensive the DROP program is, how much fire fighters are overpaid, and how they will fight against any proposed tax increase tooth and nail.
Conservatives, take heed: this approach is not going to advance your cause. Your real goal is relevance; having the opportunity to influence the direction the city takes requires being a credible voice. Shrilly repeating the Tea Party mantra is discrediting you. You must be willing to compromise.
Paul Smith is much more of a hard-line conservative. You can see that although he is gifted with a unique ability to express himself, he is ultimately powerless on council because he behaves as though it is him against the rest. He’s failed to adapt himself to his new environment and learn how to play by the rules. Instead, he complains about how he would like to contribute to the conversation with his own set of PowerPoint slides, but the council powers-that-be won’t allow him to.
As an independent observer, I would tell you if asked that Mr. Taylor is much more likely to advance his agenda than Mr. Smith is. He has slowly learned to adapt his approach, and is becoming more successful at presenting his ideas than Mr. Smith. Neither one of them is going to take council over tomorrow, but by being flexible one of them clearly has a better chance of getting things done.
If you are out there reading this and are frustrated with the seeming lack of forward progress, I’d strongly encourage you to read the article I linked to and give it some thought. All of the mistakes that are being made here locally by conservatives have been made elsewhere, and this writer seems to have provided a nice summary. Learning to avoid these errors is the only way conservative thought will advance here in town.