Politicians Gonna Politician

Since the GOP nominated an unqualified, dishonest New York liberal for president this year, many disgusted conservative voters have discussed starting a new political party.  I wrote about it myself here to flesh out different scenarios, only to conclude it was unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Let’s assume we find enough disaffected Republicans, Democrats, and Libertarians to form a new party to replace the GOP.  For the sake of this discussion, we’ll call it the Federalist Party.  Would we be better off?

In some ways, we would.  Democrats would smear the Federalist Party as the same old the Republican Party under a different name, but the novelty of a new political party would attract interest.  Some voters might hear our ideas with new ears.  The Republican Party brand has serious baggage, and Trump has only made the problem exponentially worse.  If the Federalist Party  focused on core ideas like streamlining the tax code and entitlement reform, many voters might listen with an open mind.

That’s the positive.  Here’s the negative:

One of the biggest problems, not just with Republicans, but with Washington in general, is the cozy relationship politicians have with special interests and big donors who have a vested interest in keeping government big.  They use big government laws and regulations as tools to enrich themselves and accumulate power while ordinary citizens and activists get nothing but rhetoric and broken promises.

Those same special interests would rush to co-op public officials from the newly-minted Federalist Party.  People being people, many would succumb to temptation, especially the kind of people ambitious enough to go to Washington in the first place.  Soon, they would make the same kinds of backroom deals with Democrats Republicans make today.  We could even end up with party officials who beclown themselves to endorse unfit nominees.  As the song says, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

A new political party is an attractive idea, especially for an electorate that feels betrayed by its leadership, but it is not a panacea for our problems.  Regardless of party labels, there is no substitute for the hard work of politics I described here.  Restoring our country so individuals are free and government is limited, as envisioned by the Founders and enshrined in the Constitution will take decades, not years.  It certainly won’t happen overnight.  It’s dirty work that requires patience – and dirty word concepts like compromise and incrementalism.

Washington is broken.  So is the Republican Party.  But the real solution is the boring, unsexy long-view solution.  We nominate and elect better candidates.  We talk to our neighbors.  We persuade.  We volunteer.  We apply pressure to our elected officials.  We work at local levels of government where we can have a huge impact.

It’s a slog.  It’s an uphill climb.  But it’s the only way, and it’s worth it.