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Distance from protests indicates calculated Jindal gamble

epublican governors from Texas and South Carolina attended tea party rallies in their states but all Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal did was send out an e-mail message alerting supporters of the locations of some around the state, given that he would be travelling much of the day to fundraising events on the East Coast. Even so, this didn’t entirely preclude Jindal from attending such parties, and his obligations were of the type that could have been scheduled at different times. Why the pass?

A couple of considerations may have driven Jindal’s response. First, social networking of this kind on the right tends to be sporadic and unsustained, precisely because of the philosophical divide between conservatives and liberals. Typically, conservatives are too busy earning for their own interests and in the process contributing to society to band together to make demands, while liberals focus on organizing and trying to use collective power to rig the system in favor of their interests instead of eschewing such means to concentrate on individual initiative that can benefit all. In short, ordinarily conservatives tend to forgo intentional joined efforts to wield power whereas liberals see that as part of the struggle inherent in a political system they see there to be utilized to serve their desires, and for Jindal this dependence on activism from the right might be an unstable base on which to position himself as a conservative leader.

Second, Jindal may have estimated that his political future would be negatively affected by indirect association with these events because the mainstream media would do its best to portray them as extremist. No doubt this happened, and if Jindal fancies himself to have a national political career where he calculates winning the political center that haphazardly pays limited attention to politics and mainly through the mainstream media is the eventual key to victory, he may have believed in the tactical necessity of a distant approach.

Time will tell whether Jindal’s hands-off strategy produces results, but he well may have miscalculated if that was his intent. These may not be ordinary times for conservatives which may spur movement politics seen only occasionally on the right. History shows that while the left maintains a constant, simmering rage against American society based on individual autonomy and its economic order founded on free enterprise that it sees as unfair to its wants which facilitates movement politics, the right can be shaken out of its devotion to individual achievement when the basic values supporting that are threatened.

Threats to liberty produced the Reagan Revolution three decades ago, and a counter revolution against Democrats 15 years ago that brought Republicans to power on platforms congruent with the sentiments expressed as tea parties yesterday. Conservative anger that translates into mass political action is difficult to evoke, but when triggered typically produces more substantial and longer-lasting results than the constant liberal whining.

If this discontent is sustained which will take a continued willingness by conservatives to organize and act collectively, as in and around 1980 and 1994, only a few leaders will be able authentically to use political capital from these movements to galvanize and lead them with salutary results for their own political careers. By his inactions, Jindal seems to have disqualified himself from this resource should it grow and develop.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Typically, conservatives are too busy earning for their own interests and in the process contributing to society to band together to make demands..."

Right, or too busy writing blog posts embarrassingly disingenuous enough to prevent any works from making it into a legitimate, refereed journal.