A recent statistic derived from exit polls in the Arizona Senatorial race is disturbing. Although Jeff Flake suffered a low approval rating, of those that did approve of him, they voted for the Democratic candidate, Krysten Sinema, by a 2-1 margin. One would like to think that both major parties have a conservative wing and a liberal wing. But, that quite simply is not the truth. The Democratic Party has certainly lurched much further to the Left than the Republican Party has lurched to the Right despite the media’s portrayal of the GOP as some far Right wing group. In fact, one can say that the GOP is ideologically more diverse than the Democratic Party at this point in political history.
Usually, when you have this situation of having a liberal and conservative wing in the party, a certain degree of compromise and bartering takes place. But, it appears to me that within the GOP for too long the establishment of the party has either ignored or marginalized the more conservative elements within the party. The thought influencers- those who write for the supposed vanguards of conservatism and who hold the reigns of power- should be trying to make the voting population a little more conservative rather than liberal. They also seem to be, in microcosm, those who would rather be a Flake supporter and vote for a Democrat in the Arizona race than vote for the more conservative Republican choice.
If it was the case that GOP institutions were populated with more liberal conservatives, that would be one thing. After all, diversity of thought is not necessarily a bad thing. However, that is not the case. Instead, the GOP institutions are dominated by the more liberal-minded conservatives. At best, they should be no more than 20% of Republicans in general, but we find the more liberal-minded “conservatives” dominating conservative think tanks and institutions. Jonah Goldberg is a perfect example as he has been in favor gay marriage before Barack Obama was for gay marriage. Hence, while a majority of conservatives may be opposed to gay marriage, those that hold influence seem to have thrown in the towel.
Another area where the dominant members of the GOP hold disproportionate share of the ideology of the Party is on the issue of abortion. We often hear them saying they are pro-life, or in Goldberg’s case, “basically pro-life.” These are the people who usually admonish the true pro-life contingent not to introduce that subject into the political debate. They tell us it is too divisive. Instead, they prefer the status quo. But how does one upset the unacceptable status quo without injecting the allegedly divisive issue into discourse? Instead, true conservatives are told to avoid the issue for tactical reasons- to win the election. These are usually the same people who trot out “principles” in other areas. The truth is the dominant chatter class within the GOP is just fine with the pro-choice view with some modifications around the edges.
The 2018 midterm elections and the support, or more appropriately the lack of support, some Republicans received from allegedly conservative groups is also telling and the issue was immigration. It is no secret that groups like the Chamber of Commerce and even the Koch brothers group, American Prosperity, are just fine with the status quo when it comes to immigration. They will tell us they are for immigration reform and that we should do something about DACA (that “something” is to codify it). In exchange, they assure us, conservatives may get their strict border enforcement and maybe even a wall knowing full well they have pulled the wool over the eyes of conservatives. In the end, conservatives get nothing but more voters registered as Democrat.
They are the ones inventing false reasons for opposition to the true conservative. In the end, the true conservative is a stranger in the political party that claims to be the home of conservatism. Once again, it is fine to have the contrarian view, not the dominant view, but that is not what we have. With immigration, what we have at the end of the day is open borders without calling it “open borders.” That is the frustration conservatives have with today’s GOP.
The current Republican Party is structured so that the more liberal elements within the Party have a disproportionate say. Sometimes that say is to such an extent that the true conservative position is marginalized and deplatformed along the way. Most Party members support strict border enforcement and even a wall and some surveys indicate 35% of the general population do also. But the party establishment treats those views as that “of the fringe” when they are not parroting the “racism” lines of the Left.
The question must be asked why these people who hold a disproportionate share of power and say within the party just are not forthright with their actual positions. The reason is cowardice. They will lie to conservatives and say they support some unstated, nebulous idea of border enforcement in the case of immigration. But, when any tangible solution is placed on the table, they join the opposition.
Perhaps the reason is that these self-anointed guardians of conservatism think about issues in a different way than do true conservatives. When forced to actually think about the issue, they are surprised by some stark realities. In the case of immigration, it comes as a surprise that some hard-working illegal immigrants will actually have to leave the country. Immigration naturally entails some exclusion and exclusion is just not a nice word, just as asking or telling illegals to leave does not sound very nice or inviting. And don’t even think about separating children from their parents who entered the country illegally because that is just dastardly. But true immigration reform entails exclusion to some degree, deportation to another, and hardships in still others.
Sadly, it is liberal rage on Twitter or in the mainstream media that often causes Conservatism, Inc. (not my phrase) to actually think about an issue and what it entails. Unfortunately, by the time they figure it out, the liberals have done the defining for them.
So, what is the solution if the GOP has abandoned conservatives or merely plays lip service? Some have suggested that a new party be founded. or that one simply votes not for any party, or even leaving the Republican Party altogether. The recent spate of those leaving the party is a good sign since it is the George Wills who exemplify the lip servers who run when the chips are down. They are the Ana Navarros and the Jeff Flakes of the party who would rather pad their pundit resume by appearing on CNN or resort to Twitter to signal their righteousness in the name of some nebulous principles. As for forming a new party, that has been tried and it is an exercise in futility. We have a two party political system and the only way a third party could make a mark is if we scrap the Constitution and revert to a parliamentary form of government.
Instead, perhaps it is best that we revisit the Buckley rule. That rule correctly states to support the “rightwardmost viable candidate.” Instead, our alleged intelligentsia within the GOP has replaced the word “viable” with “electable.” That is why we end up with nominees like Mitt Romney, John McCain and Bob Dole. The one thing you rarely see in the Democratic Party is their leaders running away from their “viable” candidate. Did they abandon Gil Cisneros in California, Keith Ellison in Minnesota, or Robert Menendez in New Jersey- all accused of sexual improprieties? Did they distance themselves from Kyrsten Sinema in Arizona who dissed the state she wishes to represent? Or how about the fiery rhetoric of Maxine Waters and the incoherent valley girl musings of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?
Yet, the GOP leaders and pundits expect distancing from candidates like Jason Lewis in Minnesota or Seth Grossman in New Jersey because of something they said on the radio years ago. We abandoned a candidate in Virginia because he allegedly consorted with some alt-right figures, or appeared at a rally where the Confederate flag was displayed. Most of those thankfully leaving the GOP today are doing so because of the “incivility” or “crassness” of a President who, by action, has done more for conservatism than any President since Reagan. Conservatism is better without the likes of George Will, Jonah Goldberg, or Jeff Flake because they have proven that when the chips are down and a tangible, conservative solution or policy proposal is made, they run for the hills like scared rabbits.
This writer, for one, is not leaving the Republican Party and would rather stand and fight for restoring it as a home of true conservatism. And if that means supporting and voting for a President who acts conservatively despite his crass rhetoric, then so be it. As for the elitist, Ivy League-infested pundit and establishment class, they can be shown the door. I guess you can count me in as one of the deplorables.