Recently, Mollie Hemingway, Senior Editor of the Federalist, was honored with the 2021
Bradley Prize for her extraordinary talent and dedication to American exceptionalism. Her remarks accepting the Bradley Prize went to the heart of the challenge conservatives face today, and we excerpt them here in the hope CHQ readers and friends will go to the Federalist website and read the entire speech.
Said Mrs. Hemingway:
The conservative establishment, its politicians, and its media, don’t lack ideas or people. But too many of its leaders do lack determination and endurance and fearlessness. The people can tell. As it is said, “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”
The conservative movement in D.C. has too often been engaged in insincere opposition to progressivism’s march through America’s institutions, both public and private. It has seemed mostly interested in negotiating terms of surrender or managing defeat than preserving the republic. It has stood athwart history impotently suggesting that progressives slow down. Michael Malice has therefore derided conservatism as just “Progressivism with a speed limit.” Institutional conservatism and its alleged leaders have too frequently accepted the propaganda press’s treatment of conservatives as second-class citizens.
For conservatism to mean anything now, it has to be about rejecting this rigged system. Don’t just say “stop.” Our duty is to not to say “stop” but then bend the knee in cowardice when the mob comes. That brings even more harm to our more vulnerable neighbors and does nothing to prevent the destruction of the country.
It’s not comfortable for conservatives who value order and civility to even think or speak this way. But the fact is that many Americans are alienated from and no longer feel at home in their own country. The moral climate has been degraded as the left has taken over every single one of the powerful institutions in the country and is actively pushing people to lead a life of godlessness, barrenness, selfishness, gluttony, and addiction to outrage and dopamine.
All of a sudden, the conservative project is not a conservative one, so much as a counter-revolutionary one.
Mrs. Hemingway concluded by saying:
It’s not enough, though, that someone fights. The fight must be smart and tactical. While we are clearly entering an era where dissidents will be required, there’s no value in secular martyrdom or being just another victim of the regime. The fight must be supplemented by prudence and strategy. Be bold and defiant, but we must also know where to aim our fire.
On the other hand, figuring out where to aim our fire is not that difficult right now. It brings to mind a quote from legendary Marine Chesty Puller: “They are in front of us, behind us, and we are flanked on both sides by an enemy that outnumbers us 29:1. They can’t get away from us now!”
It’s a target-rich environment. Now go out and pick one.
Mollie Hemingway’s remarks to the Bradley Foundation were an unfortunate confirmation of the analysis of CHQ Chairman Richard A. Viguerie who had this to say in his 28th Marketing Memo to conservative leaders:
In my opinion, about 90% of national conservative leaders have low energy. Not so with the Left. It seems liberals have so much energy you can almost cut it with a knife.
In a meeting of about 18 national conservative leaders, 2 years ago, I was making this point, and one of our very best conservative leaders said the same thing. He said he could only come up with a list of about 12 national conservative leaders with high energy. I did my own list, and I could only get to 9 or 10.
Conservatives are desperate for leadership. There is no shortage of money, but there is a major shortage of entrepreneurial, risk-taking leadership.
In the last few years, I’ve never seen the grassroots as responsive to direct marketing appeals as they are now. I told ATA’s strong marketing team that mailed 139,000,000 postal letters last year that “you thought you were fishing but actually the fish were jumping in the boat.” There’s every expectation that this will continue at least through 2024.
Mr. Viguerie further observed that 75%+ of the hot button issues that Americans are concerned about are OUR issues—taxes, over regulation, open borders, school choice, religious liberty, honest elections, defund the police, security, CRT, cancel culture, etc., etc. but we have given the initiative in what amounts to a spiritual war over to the Left.
As Molly Hemingway said, “All of a sudden, the conservative project is not a conservative one, so much as a counter-revolutionary one.” If Molly Hemingway is right and if Mr. Viguerie is right, and we believe they are, then what we need now are high-energy conservative leaders who are strategic thinkers, bold enough and entrepreneurial enough to seize the moment, pick targets and start the counter-revolution the grassroots are begging us to lead.
2021 Bradley Prize
future of conservatism