Before getting into the whole Twitter thing, I think it would be best to bring up a little personal history here. Some people that know me online also know that I spent about a quarter of a century working for several political campaigns in various capacities. Even fewer know that I worked a couple Democrat campaigns (because the candidates in question were family friends), and that for about 11 years, I was registered as a Democrat. My father said that he would not have a daughter in the GOP as long as he still had a pulse, so in spite of the fact that I was a charter member of the now defunct Young Republicans chapter in my county, I respected my father’s wishes. I switched my registration shortly after his death. I live in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so in spite of the fact that I am generally a Libertarian, I am registered to vote as a Republican. Otherwise, I would have no voice in primaries.
Recently, the tenor of communications on Twitter among conservatives have started to remind me of a particularly nasty Democrat campaign that I worked in the mid-90′s. The contest was over a State House seat that was vacated by the incumbent moving up to the State Senate. He did not endorse a replacement, so the primary was fairly bloody. I got pulled in for the general election, but apparently some people didn’t remember that the primary was over. One of the losing candidates ran a smear campaign against the candidate his own party endorsed in the spring primaries. Apparently he thought it was better for the Republican to get that seat, if he couldn’t have it. It amused me, and I was heartily tempted to let it go, especially since the campaign manager and other consultants were ready and willing to ignore it. But, when I ended up receiving over ten calls from voters in the space of just a couple hours about someone running a counter-campaign against the candidate, I decided to act. I sent a couple volunteers that looked fairly intimidating to the neighborhoods that were targeted, and told them to get the people off the streets. That night, I got a threatening call at my home, and the next day, my mother ended up witnessing a volunteer getting beaten in the office over campaign signs. Within 48 hours, with the help of law enforcement, I put a stop to the nonsense, only to end up facing it all over again from the opposition, as opposed to in-party malcontents. I quit working campaigns altogether for a while after that one.
And now, here I am watching people on Twitter claiming to be conservatives, smearing each other, throwing about accusations that one or another is a RINO, or even a flat-out leftist operative hiding in plain sight. This is not new, of course. I caught hell right away in the wonderful world of conservatism online at RedState, what seems ages ago now. Why? Because I’m a Libertarian and arguably a severe fiscal conservative, I had no use for the social conservative agenda proliferated on that site. Throw in that I’m an atheist, and it’s no wonder that I’m considered a pariah by the religious right. But that’s just fine. I’m not here to make them happy, and I refuse to change just for them. However, there are a couple things they can count on from me.
First, even if it’s someone that has made my blood boil, if I see a conservative attacked by a liberal on Twitter, I will step up and defend that person. There are exceptions to that, but only for those that I know damn well can manage to defend themselves quite easily on their own.
Second, I will not make value judgments about conservatives online in general, but particularly on Twitter. That means that I don’t care if I disagree with someone on just about every issue out there (yes, this is possible, especially where social conservatives are concerned). I will not claim that individual is not a true conservative. They might very well accuse me of not being a true conservative, but I won’t return that statement.
So, what makes a conservative on Twitter? As far as I’m concerned, a conservative is anyone that intends to vote against Obama in November. I would prefer that those votes go to Romney, simply because he has the best chance to win out of the conservatives that will actually be on the ballot. However, my fellow Libertarians that choose not to vote Republican are conservatives also. In case anyone missed it, we’re in the middle of a political war with the left, and if we want to see an end to this administration, we need to stop screwing around and unite.
This is only the first time that I am going to write on this, and in the future, I will probably put a spotlight on the worst offenders – the Twitter bullies with large numbers of followers that try to coerce people into unfollowing or harassing others, the petty argument starters, those that choose to spread libelous or private statements everywhere, and even those that run about willy-nilly calling others RINOs. Now, if RINO is being tossed at a conservative claiming that they’re going to vote for Obama, I’ll be calling that one a RINO too!
What I’m saying is that it is high time that conservatives on Twitter relearn a very basic word: RESPECT. Like I said from the beginning here, I’ve worked Dem campaigns in the past. Divide and conquer is on page one of their playbook, as it should be in ours. Unfortunately, we seem to be dividing and conquering ourselves, instead of the leftists. That needs to stop, NOW.
So, since hashtags are all the rage, I have one for you now. You see conservatives going after each other on Twitter, call them on it by using the hashtag #respect. This isn’t a new concept. I think everyone’s familiar with Kurt Schlichter’s ironic #caring, that he uses so eloquently to attack leftists. Well, #respect will be the one that points out when conservatives are behaving badly toward each other. It is time to stop this nonsense, and focus on November. Twitter is not the be all and end all, but it is an indicator of what is happening offline as well. If there is infighting on Twitter, it is probably going on offline, too. Personalities and egos can kill the momentum of any campaign – I’ve watched it happen, and have even helped it along. But, in this case, I am determined to put a stop to it, at least where I can. If the Romney campaign loses momentum because of all this nonsense online and offline, we only have ourselves to blame. Remember, above anything else, we must #respect all that intend to see Obama end up with only one term, period.