January 30, 2006

Grass-Roots Nature of Conservatism

Marc Comtois

Phyllis Schlafly--writing in opposition to the President's proposed guest worker program--explains that such an idea is antithetical to the ideals held by the grassroots of the conservative movement. As she explains, conservatives don't like taking "marching orders":

The conservative movement that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George Bush I once, and George Bush II twice, is essentially a movement of grass-rooters who don’t like to take orders from the top and who revolt when they believe they are betrayed or bossed by those they elected. That’s why the grass roots abandoned the first George Bush when he reneged on his “no new taxes, read my lips” promise.

The tough political tactics used by union bosses and Democratic machine bosses simply don’t sit well with conservative Republicans.

Resentment against the Bush Administration is still festering about the combination of threats and bribes that pushed through close votes in Congress to pass the costly Medicare prescription drug bill in 2003 and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) in 2004.

Maybe the intra-party divisions between fiscal vs. Big Government conservatives that lay behind the former battle, and between pro vs. anti-free-traders in the latter battle, were evenly balanced enough that the Bush Administration alienated only a handful of Republicans. But in demanding guest worker amnesty, the Bush Administration is taking the unpopular side of a party division that is at least 80-20.

Setting the specific "intra-party divisions" aside, I think Schlafly's larger point that grassroots conservatives don't like being told what to do by party "bosses" is being proven out here in the Ocean State.