Is it me or do I detect a sense of pessimism in the conservative movement? I recently had a conversation with a fellow political activist who confided in me she was "tired of fighting a losing battle" and was considering just refocusing on her family full time and leaving politics. I have heard and seen this from a number of people. Some are tired. Some aren’t sure freedom can prevail in the end. Some even feel the country is too far gone to matter anymore.
Fair enough. I do not have a crystal ball. The future of our country is uncertain. At this moment in history, those of us who still believe in freedom and American values are the underdogs. Believing in self-reliance and personal responsibility puts us at a disadvantage. There is no use mincing words or trying to paint a rosy picture. No war was ever won underestimating your opposition, and our opposition is strong.
So yes, the storm clouds have gathered. But so what?
Defeatism is not a founding American principle. And defending your God-given right to freedom is not supposed to be easy.
Ask the men who nearly froze to death at Valley Forge. Ask the mothers whose sons fought on opposite sides of the Civil War, ask the guys who landed on Normandy Beach, or the ones who were the first in Fallujah and Kabul.
Those of us actively engaged in the freedom movement are so blessed right now and we don’t even know it. We get to go out and fight for our freedom in peace. If you want to feel tired, fine. But give up? The hallmark of an American is optimism and tenacity. Our founding fathers didn’t think they were going to lose. They were sure of it. And yet they fought anyway. The price of freedom is steep. The price of giving up on fighting to defend freedom is even steeper.
This is going to be a long, long battle. We must begin to think over decades and not election cycles. We must stop thinking a politician or group of politicians is going to come and save us. No man or woman can. If you want to be saved – save yourself. Aren’t we the ones out promoting self-reliance? Then let’s prove it in how we go out and fight this battle for our nation.
Patrick Henry said "Give me liberty or give me death." He didn’t say give me a couple of quick political victories so I can have me some freedom and go home and take a nap!
Part of this pessimism is coming from the mistaken belief on the part of some conservatives that simply because the truth is on our side, defeating liberal ideology should be swift and definitive. Understand this: the fight for the restoration of freedom will be neither. We live in a world where everything is instantaneous. I had the unenviable task of explaining to my children why I could not repeat their favorite song because it was playing on the radio. The iPad generation comes by their assumptions of immediate gratification naturally. Our children may have smartphones, but didn’t we buy it for them after they wouldn’t stop playing with ours?
And we, who believe in freedom, must disabuse ourselves of the notion that just because we are right, we are going to win.
The famed Green Bay Packers football coach and legend Vince Lombardi said it best; "It’s not the team that wants to win that wins. It is the team that wants to win and is willing to work at it that wins."
The Left works at it. Tirelessly, unceasingly and most importantly, patiently. And so must we.
Losing, especially when it begins to feel like a pattern, is harsh. But then again, nothing will be as harsh as liberal ideology allowed to proceed unchecked. It leads straight to tyranny. By giving up and going away, we risk not just the loss of freedom for our nation – but for the entire world.
If there is one thing I would like all freedom lovers to understand, it is this: America is not the world’s last great hope. You are.
Jennifer Stefano is the State Director of Americans for Prosperity and Americans for Prosperity Foundation in Pennsylvania. You can follow her on twitter at @stefanospeaks.