Barack Obama has been president longer than I have considered myself a movement conservative. So, I am still a new guy here. To those of you who have been here administration after administration and decade after decade, I don’t know how you did it. There is no feeling more demoralizing than what I am seeing now. After witnessing the wave of 2010 as Tea Party candidates took down incumbents and won in the general, I thought it would be only a matter of time before we significantly moved the country right. Thirty years felt like a reasonable estimate. Tons of conservative legislation was passed only to be stopped by Harry Reid. The House was never perfect, but the list of liberal things that did not happen is much bigger than they get credit for.
A short list of things that didn’t happen: “The Buffet Rule” tax increase; any post Obamacare tax increases; Rate of Increase in spending has basically flat lined; the gun control agenda failed; Gitmo is open; Gang of 8 (which was nothing compared to what we would have gotten from Democrat Super Majorities) was beaten.
Yes, we took more losses than we would have liked. That is what happens when you control ½ of 1/3rd of the federal government. It is even less than that if you do not count the squishes and moderates. We kicked and screamed and moaned and complained and grumbled all the way to the ballot box for Mitt Romney. On the way out I heard you all chanting “Never Again.” We took control of the Senate. With that we had an opportunity to offer a competing narrative going into ’16. Instead we began to bicker about stopping the mostly for show executive actions that lack any real staying power of Barack Obama whose legislative agenda has been reduced to his own brand of failure theatre.
Then it started to become more and more apparent that the moderate squishes were not just pragmatic people playing the long game and using the baby steps strategy. Though many of them have even moved to the right, there is a strong contingent of them that do not even have the same end goal as us. As those beliefs increased, we got angry and talked about “The Base” rising up and taking the party back from the aloof and out of touch establishment. We were right about that, but we made a major miscalculation.
We thought that we were the base. We are not the base. We are not the establishment. We are not a plurality. We are a buzzword for donations and dirty word to others. The truth is that neither the base nor the establishment care at all about conservatism. On one hand the establishment just wants power and a slightly easier life for business. The base just wants to have a collective temper tantrum at the establishment, resist PC culture and deport Mexicans. The size and scope of government, life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness are not even on the agenda. They don’t even have to lie about it anymore. The Trumpkins are right. They don’t need us. I am not writing this as an autopsy for the movement. It is not time to give up. But I am faced with the most conservative field of candidates possibly ever and a front runner with a growing lead who is by all measures to the left of the guy we held our noses for last time around. I ask, “Is this what we have been fighting to achieve for 50 years?” This is not what I have been fighting for. This is not what I lost friends for. This is not what I stood out in the cold for. Our numbers are much smaller than we thought and our entire coalition is based on lies.
So now what?