Conservative Republican Participation

All – I commend to you this very important piece by one of the most important conservatives in the country. One thing I’ve always admired about Morton is that he is an unimpeachable movement conservative who at the same time remains an amazingly effective Republican Party official.

Morton’s observations, advice, and counsel for Republicans are absolutely spot-on.  -Krempasky

Events of the past year should persuade every serious conservative that the Republican Party is the only practical party vehicle for us.

For a year now, we have seen how much damage the left would do to America if they get their way.

We should have no doubt now as to the disasters the left would create if conservatives, angry with terrible mistakes of many Republican politicians, say, “I hate the Republicans. Let the leftist Democrats win and take all power in the country for awhile. So what?”

We know what the leftists want if they obtain all power. They are statists as ambitious for total power as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Without effective opposition, they would go as far as Hugo Chavez wants to go.

They are on the brink of destroying the system of checks and balances and separation of powers so wisely established by America’s founding fathers.

Their agenda would ruin our country for the foreseeable future, surely beyond our ability to recover in our lifetimes.

Now is not the time for us to take our marbles and go home.

Now is the time for all good conservatives to work together whenever we can to promote conservative principles successfully through the Republican Party.

The time is ripe for this because non-conservative Republicans have lost so many elections that, for instance in the House of Representatives, they have an almost negligible presence in public office. Let’s build a new majority party which opportunists cannot cripple again by selling out conservative principles.

Here are two fundamental objectives:

1.  To nominate and elect to public office a greater number of principled conservative Republicans.

2.  To advance a greater number of principled conservatives to positions of Republican Party leadership at the local, state, and national levels.

To achieve these objectives, conservatives must develop systematic strategies to achieve the following fourteen types of actions:

1.  Identify early, groom, and recruit principled conservatives to run for public office and manage campaigns.

2.  Focus conservative time, talent, and money on candidates who, if nominated and elected, will actively lead for conservative principles.

3.  Unite in a timely fashion to reduce the number of Republican nomination contests which pit multiple conservative candidates against a single content-free candidate.

4.  Increase the number of conservatives who actively participate, through contributions and personal activism, in behalf of conservative candidates in Republican nomination contests.

5.   Defeat in nomination contests a sufficient number of content-free Republican incumbents and candidates for open seats so that even non-conservatives will conclude that they must at least behave as conservatives if they wish to succeed in politics.

6.  Identify and recruit dedicated conservatives who are willing to spend the time and money necessary to rise within the Republican Party structure.

This can best be achieved by making widely known the duty of solid conservatives to take positions of responsibility in the Republican Party.

Yes, leadership in party organizations necessarily includes associating with people who hold different principles or none at all.

But when sufficient numbers of conservatives fail to participate personally in party activities, opportunists and liberals dominate the party organizations.

7.  Learn better how to distinguish between principled conservatives and opportunists who feign conservative principles in order to achieve power.

Never fully trust anyone who has not stuck with conservative principles in what appeared to be losing battles.

8.  Change the behavior of national Republican committees (including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and others) which generally tend to support content-free Republican candidates rather than conservative candidates for party nominations.

9.  Change the behavior of national Republican committees, those listed above andthe Republican National Committee, which often direct party resources specially into the general election campaigns of so-called “moderate” party nominees rather than to the campaigns of principled conservative nominees.

10.  Defeat the ambition of too many elected Republicans to subordinate to their complete control the Republican party committees in the state, district, or locality where those public officials are elected.

11.  Identify and ostracize incompetent political consultants who greedily attempt to direct party and campaign spending into commissionable advertising expenditures rather than into a budget balanced as to paid advertising and vital but non-commissionable grassroots organization.

12.  Get leaders of conservative organizations to persuade their groups’ members and supporters to participate personally in Republican Party committees, in Republican nomination contests, and in general election campaigns.

13.  Get major conservative communicators (print, broadcast, and online) to urge their readers, listeners, and viewers to participate personally in Republican Party committees, in Republican nomination contests, and in general election campaigns.

14.  Get large numbers of conservatives to participate at the local, state, and national levels in Republican Party volunteer auxiliary organizations such as the National Federation of Republican Women, the College Republican National Committee, and the Young Republican National Federation.

Every veteran conservative activist knows so-called “moderate” Republican politicians who specialize in knifing conservative Republicans in the back. For them, party loyalty is a one-way street.

If we allow these back-stabbers to prosper politically, they will destroy any chances for the implementation of conservative principles in public policy and for the Republican Party to regain majority status.

To succeed in the long run, conservatives who are within the party structure or who seek a party nomination must accept certain obligations of party loyalty. Except in cases involving a nominee’s misbehavior as serious as child molestation or bank robbery, they must at least tacitly support the nominees of their party.

Because there is undoubtedly a double standard in these matters, conservative Republicans who actively oppose a party nominee almost always destroy any future they might have in party committees or future nomination contests.

When content-free Republicans try to get away with violating this rule of party loyalty, conservatives should make them pay and pay and pay for it.

If they are not also leaders of the party, leaders of non-partisan conservative organizations suffer no such damage. They are free to attack a party nominee because they are not bound by party loyalty. Fear of them often can keep professional politicians from straying too far from conservative principles.

Nominations should be decided by grassroots party members. Conservatives, including those active in party committees, must reject the notion that there is a divine right of incumbents to future nominations.

Party committee resources should not be expended on efforts to re-nominate incumbents, and party committee members should be free to volunteer their support to any candidate in a party nomination contest.

Are prominent conservatives ready to agree that they must take on the fourteen very difficult projects I have just suggested?

Some are.

Senator Jim DeMint heads a political action committee called the Senate Conservatives Fund (senateconservatives.com). Congressman Pat McHenry heads the House Conservatives Fund (houseconservatives.com). These PACs seek the nomination and election of conservatives only.

Sen. DeMint has joined many conservative organizational leaders in openly campaigning for the nomination of former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, a dynamic and solid conservative, over “moderate” Governor Charlie Crist in the 2010 Republican U.S. Senate primary.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has intervened to support Crist in the party primary.

In the Congress, the Senate Steering Committee and the House Republican Study Committee have long records of effective action for conservative principles, often winning against the wishes of the official party leadership of both Houses.

These two special committees in the Congress spurred a conservative Republican revolution which produced the massive election victories of 1994.

Many conservatives through the years have invested time and money in personal participation in Republican Party activities and thereby earned membership in local, state, and national party committees. But there are too few of them, and therefore too seldom have they won leadership positions in those committees.

Certainly the conservative time, talent, and money currently applied to the Republican Party are insufficient to make it, as currently led, an always reliable supporter of conservative principles.

You may agree with me that the fourteen projects I have described are desirable elements of a strategy to make the Republican Party reliable for conservative principles, but it’s obvious that no single organization now exists, inside or outside the party, to design and implement all those projects.

If such an organization existed, the entire power of the left in politics, the media, and academia would focus, with considerable effect, on discrediting and destroying it.

So I don’t suggest creating such an organization.

The mission is too large and complex to be achieved by a centralized structure with a detailed, comprehensive plan. That is not how we nominated Barry Goldwater and nominated and elected Ronald Reagan.

There are opportunities for new organizations to be founded to work on different aspects of these problems — if competent organizational entrepreneurs will step up and if initial funding can be raised.

Organizations and leaders in the always decentralized conservative movement should review carefully all fourteen projects and take on those of them which fit in best with their own missions and capabilities.

Those who adopt and work diligently on one or more of the projects should receive the support and praise of fellow conservatives.

Those who do not should be treated accordingly.

Many citizens don’t even vote. Most others do nothing more in politics than vote. The number of political activists on all sides combined is a tiny fraction of the public.

But about 40% of Americans identify themselves as conservatives. That makes “conservative” the most popular political designation in the United States, twice as popular as “liberal” and more popular than either “Democrat” or “Republican.”

No one can be excluded from party participation, because by law U.S. political parties are open at the bottom. (See my papers “Life of the Party” and “People, Parties, and Power,” available under Resources at www.LeadershipInstitute.org .)

Many conservatives would increase their participation in Republican Party activity if advised to do so by leaders they trust.

If individual conservatives and prominent leaders and their organizations take actions appropriate for them among the fourteen types I have listed, the resulting influx of conservative participation would change greatly for the better the composition, direction, and future of the Republican Party.


Morton C. Blackwell has served as the National Committeeman of the Republican Party of Virginia since 1988.

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