Life is filled with sets of two.
In almost everything we encounter, we accept two as a good number. It’s balance.
Two parents are embraced as an ideal home. Two kids is a fair number for a family, and besides, it perpetuates the human race, right? We have two legs, two arms, two eyes and ears and even our brains have two sides for processing information. When I go shopping, I usually buy two of everything: Coke and Sprite, two steaks, two cans of soup. There’s a reason grocery stores base most of their sales on “2 for $_____.” It’s always good to have two screwdrivers, scissors, or hammers in the home, just in case you lose one.
People like to buy things in pairs. In my sales career, we learn right away the “choice close.” Either/or. This/that. You provide the client with the two best choices and they decide which better fits what their needs are. A good salesman takes into account what they learn about the customer’s needs, of course.
It’s not that having other choices is bad, but for the average person, having more than two can confuse them and even dilute the overall value of their final choice.
WE WANT CHOICES, BUT…
As Americans, we feel it’s a God-given right to choose between many things. No other country has buffets. We have hundreds of TV channels and each has their own show angling for your attention. But then, shows like Arrested Development get canceled because of a split audience. Divided loyalties. Boxes of Kleenex upon their conclusion and bitter Will Arnet fans.
Of course, in politics, we tend to complain about the binary choice of Republican and Democrat parties, but that is less by design and more out of popular sentiment. The alternative is European-style parliamentary battles. How has that worked for conservative ideas? The irony is that populism usually breeds third-party choices, but it was populism that solidified the two party system. Since Andrew Jackson’s loss in 1828, populism has had an ever-present role in politics – usually as a spoiler (Perot/Nader), but also an unseen force in maintaining the two-party system (Roosevelt). People want simplification. The third, fourth or fifth choices can be hard to differentiate, after a while. They confuse things.
While I’m an IPA or small craft guy (Dogfish Head!), the vast majority still want a Bud or Miller Lite at the end of the day.
It is for this reason that I abandoned third-party politics 15 years ago, after dabbling in them for a couple of years during college.
Necessity is the mother of political invention, right? My principles didn’t change, but my position did. Third parties have their place, and I don’t begrudge my friends who believe in their idealism. But in my switch to the Republican Party, I determined, like millions of others to make the party more conservative through engagement, rather than mutual destruction.
And it worked.
MOST CONSERVATIVE CONGRESS?
15 years ago, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the Patriot Act and a myriad of other massive, progressive programs rolled through a Republican-controlled government. Sure, the GOP only controlled all federal branches for less than a single Congress, as seats changed partisan hands on the fulcrum of voter suspicion. But when the party had a chance, it only legitimized for many the reason the Reform and Libertarian parties existed.
Can you imagine any of those bills being passed today? While Senator Bill Frist (he supports Obamacare and voted for each of those programs mentioned earlier) was once considered the voice of conservatism in the Senate, we now have a buffet to choose from: Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and yes (to the chagrin of some CruzCrew) Marco Rubio of Florida. None of them would have allowed those blunders to hit the floor, let alone pass.
We’ve come a long way in the last 15 years, as millions of concerned Americans engaged from the ground up, became GOP board members, delegates and elected officials, and made the Party more conservative. I would argue we have the most conservative Congress of the last century, at least since the days of Calvin Coolidge. Instead of lightning rods like Tom Delay or John Boehner, we have true leadership like Paul Ryan who infuse every speech with words of persuasion, inviting others to join us. Moving the needle has become his desire, and conservatives have accomplished a once in a generation paradigm shift.
But of course, this is 2016. The year of anything. Literally. Much has been said about the candidate that shan’t be named, so I won’t. But suffice to say everything I just told you is challenged by his candidacy. Then I remember, the Republican Party is not one man. Out of 11,000 elected positions, a single one cannot define the Party. I embrace the GOP out of necessity, because it’s the vehicle I’ve chosen to further my ideals, but it is also a place where I can find like-minded, creative, dedicated citizens. It is my home team, even in the down years.
I’ve made no secret of my decision to reject the GOP nominee for president this year. Not out of mere principle, but for the future of the Party. That future is what we make it, and I’m not about to abandon all the work we’ve done the last 15 years over a faulty idea.
It is for this reason that I won’t vote for Gary Johnson, as his success will hamper the future of the GOP in it’s recovery. Besides, his goal is to broaden Libertarian appeal, not just their tent. The sleepy Darrell Castle also leaves me wanting. I don’t want the Republican Party to suffer, I want it to get better. And for me, the best way to spare the Party is to vote for the most conservative, persuasive candidates in the primaries, vote for them in the general elections and support the only true Republican running in the race for president, Evan McMullin.