If you’re a conservative, you’ve been living in an imaginary world. I know that I have. For years, I’ve been trying to convince myself that the Republican Party can be fixed from within. I’ve seen the gains that the Tea Party made over the last six years. I saw the list of Presidential candidates lining up. I thought, “This is it. This is finally the year that conservatism can take back the GOP.”
Now is not the time to dwell on the past. It didn’t happen. It won’t happen. Conservatism lost. The Republican Party has become the left-leaning moderate party compared to the far-left Democratic Party and that’s exactly where they want to be. Republicans no longer embrace fiscal conservatism. As a recent poll pointed out, 85% of Republicans say that free trade has cost the U.S. more jobs than it has created, compared to 54% of Democrats. There has been absolute silence from the vast majority of the GOP about Trump’s adoration of debt-building entitlements. The backlash I expected when he scaled back his tax cuts never came, at least not from conservative media.
The Republican Party is in a trance with most being told what to think and how to react. Perhaps it’s always been like this. Did I just miss it? Have most Republicans always been sheep, unaware of why they’re supposed to feel the way they feel about particular issues, only knowing that if a Republican backed it, then it must be good? When did “free trade” become anathema? What happened to the idea that we must reform entitlements before they crush us to oblivion? When did “cut taxes and reduce expenditures” get replaced by “tax and spend” to the tunes that Trump is suggesting?
As Trump went from his initial stance of eliminating the national debt in eight years to reducing it significantly to his current stance of raising it with the catchphrase, “now is the time to borrow,” why did the party of Reagan, Coolidge, and Lincoln decide to follow along so willingly?
The answer to all of these questions is that I’ve been looking in the wrong direction. I’ve been watching Trump’s moves believing that the GOP would send their attack dogs to straighten him out. Instead, I should have realized that Republican leadership was behind his policies all along. They’ve been behind these types of policy proposals for decades, but I was too blinded by hope to see the truth. Fiscal conservatism is part of their campaign pitch and a badge that they flash when they know it can’t win a particular battle. As long as they can blame the Democrats for being fiscally liberal, they’re willing to quietly go along after feigning a fight over it. That’s what we’ve seen in every budget since the GOP took over both chambers of Congress.
This current batch of party leaders were never interested in economic responsibility. It doesn’t pay and it doesn’t win elections. If you take something away from the people, even if it’s the right thing to do for the country, you’ll lose elections and fade in power. They believe this to be true. They believe that the people are unwilling to follow principled fiscal conservative practices, so the Republican Party has quietly decided to only fight for them as part of the show.
The reality is that people are willing to be responsible if our leaders are willing to demonstrate responsibility. When Ted Cruz proposed eliminating ethanol subsidies, almost everyone assumed that he would get killed in Iowa. He proved that if you educate people about the realities of fiscal conservatism, they are willing to make adjustments short-term for their long-term benefit. The GOP has lost sight of this, assuming that they ever really saw it in the first place.
The silver lining to this election is that true conservatives can hopefully see the writing on the wall.
Let Them Have the Center
The biggest lie in American politics is that we can only have a two-party system. Third parties fail, which would lend to this lie, but the truth is that it’s perpetuated through suspension of disbelief. The reason that there hasn’t been a successful third party since the 19th century is because conservatives, which make up a substantial percentage of the population, have embraced the lesser-of-two-evils mentality.
There have been two conservative mini-revolutions. The first came in the 1960s when men like Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, Jr. showed us that conservatism could function. Unfortunately, they were quashed for the most part. It wasn’t our time. The second was Ronald Reagan. He fought the GOP Establishment and finally defeated them in 1980. Even into his first term, he had to fight the naysayers in the Establishment who assumed that he could either be controlled or he would fail. By 1982, when they realized he couldn’t be controlled and were shocked to learn that his policies were working, they shifted gears and co-opted his conservative revolution. Systematically, they redefined his policies by embracing him. By the time he left office, they had set themselves up to be able to ride his success while quietly shifting the party back towards the moderate middle. George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and the rest in the Presidential nomination line claimed the mantle of Reagan without ever utilizing it.
Today, we have the opportunity for a third conservative revolution. To do so, we will need a new conservative party. There’s no other way. Some will say that preexisting conservative parties such as the Constitution Party will be easier to build up rather than starting from scratch, but I’ve explored that option as well as other conservative parties. All of them have good ideas. All of them lack the velocity and strategy necessary to work quickly enough. The Constitution Party, despite existing for a quarter century, failed to get 1/10th of 1% of the vote in 2012 and is projected to get even less this year.
The GOP has known for years that conservatives are in no danger of voting Democrat. As long as there’s a binary choice, they can count on our votes regardless of how far to the left they lurch. Until we stand up and demand that they do what’s best for the country by following the precepts of fiscal conservatism, they will always pull to the center. I say we let them.
If we can unite conservatives behind a principled party that is unwilling to bend to the whims of irresponsibility, we won’t just be a third party. We can be the other second party. Let the GOP have the mushy middle. Let the Democrats continue their descent into socialism. We’ll stand for American conservatism because that’s exactly what this nation needs in order to thrive. It’s what it needs in order to survive.
Raise your hands. Be counted. Suspend your disbelief that it can’t be done and together we can prove that it will be done. Share this article. Become part of the collective conservative consciousness that is rising around us. We have thousands who have already woken up. When thousands becomes tens of thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then millions, we’ll be able to reclaim our nation from the clutches of liberalism pervading across this country.