"FORGET THE NEO-CONS, BEWARE THE EX-CONS"
So I'm listening to talk radio recently during the hellish commute to our nation's capital, and I hear caller after caller start out by saying, "I'm a conservative, except..." The issue was over a proposed new government-mandated smoking ban in bars and restaurants. And the callers - so-called "conservatives" - were all for it.
Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying smoking is good. And I'm not saying smoking isn't offensive to a lot of people, especially while dining. What I AM saying is that the proper, consistent conservative position is that the decision whether or not to allow smoking in a privately-owned bar or restaurant should be up to the OWNER of the bar or restaurant - not the government.
If the bar or restaurant allows smoking - and you don't like smoking - don't go there! There is no "right" for you to eat in someone else's kitchen. I'm not saying conservatives need to defend smoking. I'm saying true conservatives need to defend individual liberty; to defend the private property owner's rights over government power and coercion. If government can tell a business owner how to run his business, how long before that same government begins mandating healthy meals in your own home - for the good of the children, of course?
I've found over recent years that more and more so-called conservatives find "exceptions" to their limited-government principles on a host of issues. I've started calling them "ex-cons" - exception conservatives - and they are far more dangerous to the limited-government movement than the so-called "neo-cons." See if you haven't run across an "ex-con" in your political travels recently...
And on and on and on. One "except" after another. THIS is the biggest problem with the conservative movement today. If so-called conservative voters are willing to constantly make exceptions to their own philosophical beliefs, is it any wonder that pandering politicians are so schizophrenic in their voting? If we, as true conservative voters and activists can't or won't be consistent in our positions, how can we expect our elected representatives to be any better?
We have met the enemy, and it's us. Conservatives, heal thyselves.
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Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2005 Chuck Muth. All rights reserved. "Muth's Truths" may be republished providing the column is copied intact, and full credit is given. Talk show producers interested in scheduling an interview with Mr. Muth should call (410) 391-7408.