January 21, 2009
Conservatism's Dilemma: To be or not to be in the GOPBy Larrey Anderson
The GOP heavily (almost exclusively) relies on conservatives for grassroots campaign workers and financial support. But the Republican Party has a long history of exploiting conservatives' efforts and misusing conservatives' financial contributions. In many ways, the situation is reminiscent of an abusive marriage. Is it time for conservatives to finally recognize the lies and abuse and move out of the house? Or is some sort of reconciliation still possible?
I will make my position clear from the outset. A divorce by conservatives from the GOP would be a disaster for all of the parties involved. Just like most marriages, the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence -- but it almost always isn't. This is true for the GOP and for conservatives.
The "big tent" speeches may be staple rhetoric of the GOP hierarchy; but, if conservatives pack up and leave, the GOP will be a big empty tent. (This mass migration would include the growing number of black and Hispanic conservatives in the GOP. These good hard working people are in the GOP because they understand and live by conservative principles -- not because they are part of some equal opportunity RNC scheme.)
Intelligent people do not choose a party affiliation because of the color of their skin. They choose it because it reflects their ideals. The GOP needs to understand, and it needs to understand this soon, that there is no Republican Party without conservatives -- and conservatives need to start acting on this fact.
Conservatives who decide to abandon the GOP will have a rough time finding a new political party to live with. The Libertarian Party is wedded to the "philosophy" of selfishness and Ayn Rand. The Constitution Party is barely a blip on the political radar.
If reconciliation between conservatives and the GOP is going to happen, conservatives must take firm control of the GOP. Here are some tough love suggestions for how this can be done:
(1) No more money. The first thing conservatives must do is stop giving any money to the GOP. All contributions must stop -- at least for the short term. We have all received letters from the RNC that ask for money to help fight "liberal tax and spend Democrats." Most of us have taken the bait and sent in contributions. Conservatives need to recognize these letters for what they are: a scam.
These letters never mention issues like the global warming hoax, or stopping illegal immigration, or the federal bailouts. They can't. The Republican Party has taken no fixed stand on these issues. In fact, the GOP's presidential candidate supported the liberal position on all of these issues. Conservatives must stop settling for half a loaf from the GOP. And we must insist that the Republican Party recognize that half a loaf is ... half a loaf.
Until the Republican Party takes a coherent and cohesive conservative stand on all of the major issues facing America, and only finances candidates who actively support those positions, GOP solicitation letters should be sent back sans contribution. I suggest inserting a polite little note that says something like this, "Contribution will be forthcoming as soon as you show me that the money is only supporting candidates who actually uphold the principles outlined in this solicitation."
In other words, no more conservative money goes to the RINOs. Not a penny. Unless the Republican Party gives us hard evidence that it is willing to reform and stop using conservative money to support "moderate" candidates, conservatives must stop funding the GOP. It is that simple.
If conservatives want real change real fast in the Republican Party, the best thing we can do is stop funding the GOP. Until the GOP earns our support, we should send all of our political contributions directly to the conservative candidates who have. (See point 5 below.)
(2) No more excuses. Conservatives must stop making excuses for the GOP and start demanding change. I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of defending the lightly veiled socialist policies of "compassionate conservatism."
In fact, I refuse to defend such policies any more. When a liberal argues with me that "Republicans supported the bailout too -- it was Bush's idea," my response is "I am not going to defend Bush. I am a conservative -- not a Republican." In short, and in my opinion, conservatives must stop defending the indefensible.
Here is another way to say this: Conservatives must stop looking back and start thinking forward. We must stop defending the GOP. Instead, we must demand change within the Republican Party. The glaring mistakes that the GOP has made in the last ten years are not the fault of conservatives. Let the past go, let go of Bush, and forget McCain. Conservatives need to think ahead and move forward -- and so does the GOP.
(3) No more manipulation. Republicans have manipulated conservatives for far too long with empty promises of governmental reform. John McCain received a standing ovation from the delegates at the RNC when he proclaimed the end of big government spending. In less than two months he suspended his campaign to fly back to Washington so that he could work and vote for the first bailout bill -- the largest single government expenditure in peacetime history.
Conservatives should no longer condone or support such palpable pretense and the GOP needs to stop shoveling it. To be brutally frank, if the GOP wants conservative support, then their Republican candidates must stop lying to us.
(4) New leadership now. The GOP must dump its current crop of congressional leaders. These men seem to be comfortable being in the minority. They know how to say "bi-partisan" and "compromise" -- but they have no clue about how to say the simplest of words: "No."
Listen to House Minority Leader John Boehner's take on his recent meeting with then President-elect Obama on the next trillion-dollar bailout. Listen to the words from his own website. Boehner wants "to craft a plan [trillion-dollar bailout -- the sequel] that can pass in a bipartisan fashion." This is a pre-announced capitulation. It is not leadership. Conservatives must demand that the house cleaning of the GOP begin with the Republican's congressional leadership.
(5) Finally, let's take this bull by the horns. Conservatives need to start running for office. I know. I know. This is a daunting idea. But stop and think about it for a moment. If Nancy Pelosi is fit to be the Speaker of the House, then at least 90% of the rest of America's citizens are qualified to run for some public office. (This includes 99.99% of America's conservative stay at home moms. Run ladies run!)
There are problems with this final proposal. Most conservatives are too busy working at the jobs that make the country run to quit their real jobs and run the country. Be that as it may, some of us must step up to the political plate and take our turn at bat. After all, conservatives believe in limited government and this includes, for some of us, a limited term of public service.[i]
Which conservatives should run? Mothers whose children have left the nest, retired, or soon to be retired, business owners or workers, young conservatives who have been successful in business and can afford to sacrifice a few years in public office to help get the ship of state back on course, etc.
Look into your heart. Are you the next Sarah Palin? Why not? Those conservatives that can afford to run for office need to run for office; those who cannot run need to actively support those who can. And we need to do it from within the GOP.
How do conservatives gain control of the GOP? The answer is simple: We take it.
Larrey Anderson is a writer, a philosopher, and submissions editor for American Thinker. His latest award-winning novel is The Order of the Beloved. His memoir, Underground: Life and Survival in the Russian Black Market, has just been released.
[i] In the 1980s I was elected, as a Republican, to three consecutive terms in the Idaho State Senate. I ran each campaign on a budget of less than $10,000. I had tons of help from friends, family, and fellow conservatives. (I also had primary opposition from the Republican Party in each of my campaigns.) I retired in 1990 after sustaining a serious back injury. Running for public office is a lot hard work. But it is not impossible. If I can do it -- so can you.