Given the recent quandries a number of conservatives and/or Republicans have been in regarding their place in the GOP, and given that a number of commentators have been pontificating over the Sarah Palin phenomenon, I’d like to proffer an idea that may or may not have been disseminated of late.
I have a dog in this hunt, as I left the GOP a few years ago as a protest against what I felt was the abandoning of the party platform. I became a member of the California Independent Party, known nationally as the Constitution Party, and have felt that my vote and voice have been wasted ever since. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I heard about the Florida faction of the party, representing an apparent “Christian” pro-life stance with no exceptions, fighting viciously with a Nevada, allegedly “Mormon” faction, which represented a pro-life position, but including an exception for the life of the mother… or something like that. When a third party fractures over what could be argued as minor issues, it clearly presents no alternative, and I’ve been considering a return to my “party of Reagan” ever since.
As an evangelical Christian, I have also been labeled as part of the “Religious Right”, and have been accused of forcing the Republican Party to pander to my predilections as well as being a party to helping to fracture Republican unity, both having been done with such apparent impunity that I was completely unaware of what I was doing when I voted for whom I did.
In deference to the Libertarian Party (to which I have previously referred, if I said that right without dangling a modifier), their descriptors are succinct in describing why someone might become a Republican- they argue, as I recall, that Republicans/conservatives are economically leveraged toward small government, yet we believe that federal goverment has a right to speak to things moral, especially within the public square. I would say that this generic definition is what rang true with me when I cast my first presidential vote… for Ronald Reagan.
Something since then has changed, albeit in smaller areas than the two aforementioned, at least for me. But I have to think, after watching innumerable “disenfranchised” Republicans speak (including many voices from within the party) that what I’m feeling( I’d rather say “thinking”, but that would only be partially honest) is not atypical.
Firstly, the “new” conservative has a bit of a different twist on civil liberties: he or she relishes the rights of the individual to the point that, where once he might have completely backed the police, for example, he now asks that police be carefully limited in their powers and be held to a higher standard. He concedes that this makes a cop’s job that much harder, but believes that a cop who’s philosophically tied to a “policeman as an armed citizen” with arrest duties given him by his fellow citizens does not want to advocate the militarization of the police or the removal of certain duties in order to preserve due process. I, for one, am upset that, here in California, I can be pulled over for something and detained because the officer pulling me over notices that I have a California-legal AR-15 or AK-47 in my trunk, but because the officer doesn’t have adequate training, can then detain and possibly arrest me and/or confiscate my weapon, and that cop is protected in his or her ignorance of the law. Apparently, if a police officer wishes to coerce information or a confession or whatever from me, he is legally protected if he wants to lie to me about what is going to happen to me, for instance, if I don’t cooperate. This is, of course, just one example of civil liberties issues, but the point is that we find ourselves closer to the libertarians than to the Republican Party because we believe more in individual rights than our predecessors, and we know that what might be misapplied to a miscreant might also be misapplied to us one day. I, for example, don’t care if 2nd degree murderers are released, as long as they’re released according to the rule of law, and our Governor has no right to abrogate said law. If it’s wrong for those guys to get out, tell the public and change the penal code… lesson learned. But don’t go changing it by administrative fiat. Law only protects us if those in charge of administering it are beholden to it. Those who don’t like this are Benthamites, and should be damned to hell! We are adamant in our right to self-determination and responsibility, and believed that this includes self-defense. We support castle doctrines, for example, and note that the crime rate during the days of the “Wild West” was miniscule compared to today mainly because the citizenry were empowered to collectively drive out the “desperadoes” or hang them as they saw fit. The real gunfighter scenario tended to be the bad guy riding into town only to discover guns pointing at him from many windows, and he would receive an admonition to hightail it out of town or else. Whatever else they might have been, most outlaws of the day were smart enough and quickly left. Even in high-falutin’ Big Bear, CA, there is still a hanging tree on display!
Secondly, the new Republican/conservative is adamant in his or her objections to growing government. We are states-rights people. I guess this mimics the old Federalist/Whig debates, or so I’ve heard, but I must confess that I don’t know the divisions well. I know Alexander Hamilton was on one side- something to do with the National Bank? Anyway, we decry Roe v. Wade as much for it’s improper application on the federal level as we do for its illegal funding via Planned Parenthood. We’re tired of all the “attachments” to the Federal government without real Constitutional moorings, such as the EPA. We insist on getting government out of our private lives, and this includes smoking issues (even though many,like me, don’t smoke, much less like the smell), helmet laws, and regulating what we eat. No compromise, no quarter. The Feds can keep our military up (even though, Constitutionally, an army is only formed for two years, and only when necessary), but who the heck is the ATF? Regulatory agencies are an affront, but that point goes back to the discussion on civil liberties.
Thirdly, we believe in a moral component of American Society, but we believe that things like welfare and charity are best run by the local moral components, such as churches and local Aide Societies, and that things like insurance are NOT a right per se, even though we may need to avail ourselves of them often. We do think the Federal government has a place in ethics by NOT intruding and promoting “hate crimes” against gays, as if the death of a straight person is somehow less. We do NOT believe that behavior is to be protected the same as race. We believe in tolerating each other as equal people, and that no group deserves being “re-isolated” in order to be “insulated”. We are adamant in our refusal to kowtow to politically-correct iterations of the law. We believe that Mexican-Americans want law and justice just as much as the rest of us, and that they are probably just as conservative in their family life as the Black Community is, so the Republican Party needs to quit trying to kiss their backsides in an attempt to win favor, and just say we want the Border regulated, and so do they! Perhaps we need to streamline the immigration process (10 years is not atypical), but stopping illegal drug and human trafficking needs to happen…NOW! California prisons are full of mules who were offered “plata o plomo”(silver or lead), and chose the plata. Such a perspective is anathema to the obsequious, placating, and nauseatingly concession-minded Republican Party that now exists.
I believe that the aforementioned explains the popularity of a Sarah Palin. We (dare I say) “neo-neo Cons” are growing, because we won’t simply lie down and acquiesce to the pablum foisted on us by the old Guard ideology. We need a home. And if the Republican Party won’t grow up and take it’s conservative belief system seriously, we’ll find a home elsewhere… perhaps with less-than-perfect-but-better-than-anything-else Sarah. In any case, since we’re principle-minded over party loyalty, we’ll happily wreck the Republican Party for its hypocrisy and then start anew. We’re tired of politics as usual, as we ain’t gonna take it anymore! The hope is that the Republican Party will see this division and not gloss it over, but instead anchor itself in its conservative roots. What good is pandering to the middle if you don’t even have a base?
By the way, I concede that I morphed from a mainly 3rd person perspective into this 1st-person plural thing, but, hey, that’s my thing, dang it! Actually, I’m sorry, but I’m too tired right now to revise it, so I’ll rest on the laurels of this being simply a diary and not an actual literary exercise. In any case, I readily acknowledge that I know better, so I hope you’ll forgive my indiscretions, good friend!