Conservative Challenges In 111th Congress

Concerns are growing that President-elect Barack Obama and newly-empowered congressional Democrats are preparing a battle plan to silence the right and establish a permanent liberal majority. Will there be a government crackdown on conservative talk radio and free speech in the workplace? And can conservatives find a charismatic leader who will fight for free markets, smaller government, traditional values and a strong national defense?

Regulating Talk Radio

With the new power they amassed on Nov. 4, some on the left appear intent on regulating conservative speech. One need look no further than a giddy Election-Day Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who stated his support for “fair and balanced” talk radio, then equated conservative viewpoints with “pornography.” The Fairness Doctrine, created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1967, requires broadcasters to air contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. It was lifted in 1987 by the FCC.

Legislative attempts to eliminate free speech on conservative-leaning talk radio failed in the last Congress, therefore talk radio should prepare for death by a thousand regulations. The Obama administration and Congress will try to implement regulations and laws that will fall short of the actual Fairness Doctrine. But they’ll still stifle such talk-show hosts as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, John Gibson, Laura Ingraham and Glen Beck.

The liberal Center for American Progress and the ironically titled Free Press published a report last year containing a roadmap to silence conservative talk radio. The following legislative and/or regulatory suggestions are proposed as an alternative to the Fairness Doctrine:

— Restore local and national caps on the ownership of commercial radio stations.
— Ensure greater local accountability over radio licensing.
— Require commercial owners who fail to abide by enforceable pubic interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting.

These recommendations would restrict conservatives from owning too many stations and tax conservatives when they do not provide broadcasting in the “public interest.”

Conservatives need to defend the First Amendment, because liberals will attack conservative talk radio as part of their master plan to secure a permanent liberal majority in Washington, DC.

Free Speech at Work

The left will also regulate free speech and eliminate secret ballots at the workplace through something called “card check.” Card check would allow union leaders submit signatures from a majority of employees to create a union without a vote of the employees. Right now the National Labor Relations Board conducts elections, unless an employer agrees to card check, to make sure that the workers at a company want to unionize. Under this procedure, the employees get a private ballot to democratically decide whether they want the company’s employees to be represented by a union.

In the last Congress, a card-check measure called the “Employee Free Choice Act” passed the House 241-185, but was filibustered in the Senate. This legislation will be quarterbacked in the next Congress by Sen. Ted Kennedy and President-elect Obama, who said on the campaign trail that he is “ready to play offense for organized labor.” Conservatives should protect the right of employees to privately cast a vote on the issue of whether they want union representation.

Filling the Conservative Void

Republicanism is adrift, but the conservative movement and ideas remain strong. Americans need a leader who will fight for them, preserve their freedoms and not give one inch to those who would chip away at our liberties.

Americans are, as even Newsweek admitted, “more instinctively conservative” than liberal. Those conservative values aren’t hard to identify: protecting the free market; reducing the size and scope of our ever-expanding government; protecting traditional values and the sanctity of human life; and maintaining a strong national defense.

Who will advance those values is an open question. Gov. Sarah Palin’s emergence on the national scene energized disaffected conservatives over the past few months. South Carolina’s Jim DeMint, the Senate’s most conservative member, and Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, both could join forces and lead a congressional revolution. Newt Gingrich may engineer another conservative revolution by organizing and leading the conservative movement. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Gen. David Petraeus are other potential torch-bearers for the conservative cause.

Conservatives should be patient and wait for a good spokesman to emerge, because conservatives hitching to the wrong horse could cause a major split in the conservative movement. An October poll by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners found that 57 percent of Americans consider themselves very or somewhat conservative.

Conservatism is alive and well outside the beltway of Washington D.C. We just need a leader to rally around.