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It's Time for Conservatives to Embrace Choice

It's Time for Conservatives to Embrace Choice

It’s been a year since the Republican autopsy report made the grand and completely obvious declaration that Republicans must reach additional constituencies to be more relevant on a national level. There is little evidence that the party is reaching beyond its comfort zone, choosing instead to rely on running against Obama during the 2014 elections. 

A shame to be sure, because that strategy is the kind of narrow thinking that ensures liberals have an edge in the American political landscape even though their poll numbers consistently show the opposite should be true.

If more consistent and meaningful outreach to minorities, women, and the shrinking middle class is just too much for some in the establishment to handle, how about dedicating ourselves to at long last embracing “choice” as a way of attracting more voters to the liberty-minded cause? 

Right now, if you are pro-life, you’re probably getting ready to write some hate-email telling me how appalled you are at the notion of encouraging conservatives to change their position on abortion. In so doing, you’re proving my point.

The word “choice” has been hijacked for far too long. This word, which is so central to the American promise, is today too intimately associated with the abortion issue and not enough with a basic building block of our freedom.

While abortion rights proponents come from varying corners of the political spectrum, “choice” has become too often connected with the same liberal or progressive ideology that successfully fabricated the so-called war on women and for decades has shamefully used ethnic minorities as pawns to justify massive increases in government expansion. Freedom-minded Americans cannot allow the left and the Democrat establishment to be identified with “choice.”

Whether it was done with strategic purpose or not, the messaging around abortion created a brilliant wedge issue that to this day divides Americans in passionate debate. “Choice” becoming the moniker of the abortion rights crowd some forty years ago also gave the Democratic Party a powerful rallying cry. Not only were liberals the champions of the poor, unionized, and working class, but now they were also the party of choice.

Republicans and conservatives quickly became the party of control, rules, and restriction. They were the party of the fat cats, “the man,” and later the villainous 1%. 

Fast forward now to a time when the abortion debate has taken a back seat to a struggling economy with nearly 20 million out of work, a national debt that’s 110% of GDP, municipal bankruptcies, and a public that overwhelmingly believes big government is the greatest threat to the future of the country. Today, when you think of command and control government you immediately think of Obamacare, a predatory IRS, free-market intervention, personal data collection, soda bans, the thousands of new regulations that kills jobs each year, and higher taxation, all of which are hallmarks of liberal-Democrat philosophy. It’s an anti-choice and anti-freedom ideology.

There is no reason why progressives and liberals should have a monopoly on “choice” simply because of the abortion issue. Progressivism and liberalism has little to do with choice. It has everything to do with weaponizing the apparatus and power of government to interfere with our choices and restrict freedom. 

Liberty-minded Americans who wish to reject the nanny state that is developing around them need to think about policy in terms of choice. Words matter and “choice” needs to be big part of the American lexicon and not abandoned by large numbers for fear that discussing it means something it doesn’t.

Does Common Core restrict or enhance the choices of parents and teachers? Does Obamacare increase or decrease one’s ability to choose how they make their healthcare decisions? Will government having more of your personal information ultimately lead to more freedom or less? 

To be sure, frequently squishy Republicans have often fueled the fire of government’s unsustainable expansion and its resulting impact on our personal and economic freedom. Behavior aside, however, the DNA of the more fiscally conservative, personal choice-minded majority in this country is without question. Most Americans want smaller, less expensive, less intrusive government. Most Americans want a government that permits more personal choice.

So much of what we, as active citizens, do to change perceptions in our society are the little things we do every day. It’s a word here and a phrase there, given life in the media and among opinion-leaders, then repeated over dinner, on Facebook, or at the proverbial water cooler. Choice-minded Americans must start driving the simple message that Americanism is about the ability to choose for one’s self rather than government making choices for us. “Choice” isn’t about abortion. It certainly has little to do with the progressivism that has created a government that now stands as a barrier to American freedom.

It’s time we took “choice” back from those who would restrict freedom, and in so doing liberate an important principle from being distorted as part of a narrow, misleading marketing ploy of the left.

Thomas J. Basile is a national political commentator and columnist. Follow him on Twitter @TJBasile or learn more about him at www.TJBasile.com

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