It would be no surprise to true conservatives that there is no love between them and the party. After seeing gains in the House and Senate brought by “tea party” victories, most of these newer members have been held in contempt by the establishment leadershipeven to the point of supporting opponents in primary races. This was true for my congressman, Tim Huelskamp.
The party that came to power as a third party and displaced the Whig party, the party of Lincoln, the home of smaller less intrusive government, lower taxes, lower spending and constitutional adherence is not even a shadow of its former self.
Conservatives are fought against, ridiculed, marginalized and thrown to the curb.
Maybe it’s time to define them. Many people wear the name conservative and describe themselves as such, however, I can call myself a car and sit in my garage, that does not make me a car.
People have begun connecting other words to conservative to help describe themselves: compassionate, constitutional, and neo- to name a few.
I see a true conservative as a Classical Liberal, a Jeffersonian, a believer in maximum liberty and personal responsibility. A true conservative believes in the founding principles and does not equivocate; there are lines of principle one does not cross.
Barry Goldwater was marginalized by both the Democrats and his own party. Make no mistake about it, the Republican party has worn one hat in public and another in the back rooms where the deals are made. The original intent was power in the hands of the people. Face it, the party will NEVER relinquish its power to you. That was once again clear when they fought rules changes that would close primaries to only Republican voters.
“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is ‘needed’ before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ ‘interests,’ I shall reply that I was informed their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.” – Barry Goldwater, “Conscience of A Conservative”
Back in June, I wrote an article about what poor communicators conservatives are. First, we need to learn who we are, and then how to communicate our beliefs. This is increasingly difficult in a world where most get their news and solidify their beliefs in tweets, headlines, and memes. Barry Goldwater articulated what a true conservative politician is, but not what it would mean to the general public.
The Alt-Right movement has grown essentially using memes, more of a reflection of their followers than the leaders. Of course, that is true with our electorate in general, our political leaders reflect the voters, not the other way around.
I see essentially four “types” of conservatives.
There are the establishment types who think winning is all that matters. They will offer all sorts of government programs and incentives to “buy” votes…raising the minimum wage, health care, spending programs, such as the recently proposed maternity leave and childcare. As long as the person in office has an (R) by their name and does not confuse the people with talk of the constitution, it’s all good. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Chris Christie and Ann Coulter all come to mind.
There are those who see they’ve been handed lemons, so they decide to make lemonade. Normally this is not a bad trait to make the best of things in life. However, when you give in on foundational principles for the sake of winning, did you win or did the other “side” win? These are the pragmatists, I’d include Sean Hannity and even Rush Limbaugh, along with those like Paul Ryan.
There are the ones who will voice their opposition to the party and its direction but will reluctantly go along. The party knows this, so they really don’t care, these people will eventually play ball so the party ignores them, and their voices are muted in the end. I love Mark Levin, but I have to put him in this spot. I would also point out he does not hesitate to keep the heat on in the meantime.
Then there are the true conservatives. They are attacked for being inflexible, stuck in the past, and out of touch. Progressives HATE true conservatives. Conservatism is to Progressivism what Kryptonite is to Superman. This is an elite group, I’d say Senator Mike Lee and Congressman Tim Huelskamp along with Glenn Beck.
I’m not suggesting compromise is bad or should not be done, but compromise on constitutional principles always leads further away from the constitution. We can and should debate on whether a road should be built and then what materials should be used, who the contractor should be. There should be no debate or compromise on our natural rights and liberties.
Make no mistake about it, much of the Republican party is progressive. Progressive does not mean liberal or “left;” it means government control. You are not smart enough, or you are “too mean” (you don’t feel like you should have to give up your hard earned wages to support others’ poor decisions) to make your own choices, so they will make it all “fair” and “equal.”
I saw a comment the other day that we always have the lesser of two evils in elections. I would suggest that the party has conditioned us to accept that premise. It does not have to be so.
What’s a conservative to do?
This conservative is looking to the future- this is a marathon. No, not a marathon, this is an Iron Man endurance triathlon. One does not participate in one of those without education and training.
As conservatives, we often think all we need to do is show up at the polls, and in so doing, we have verified Einstein’s definition of insanity. If you follow my writing, you well know I promote each of you getting out of your comfort zone and becoming involved. Politics is a nasty business and it is not for the faint of heart, however, if you are so moved we do need good solid conservatives in local, state and national government. For most of us, there are other ways we can make a difference. Find an effort that fits with you and get busy.
As for the original intent of this article, what of the Republican party? To me, the party is dead. While I do and will continue to vote for candidates who are Republicans, I do so with caution. I have not supported any Republican committee since 2005, this is not a new feeling on my part. The party has made it clear that the constitution and the framer’s original intent is no more than a footnote in history. Conservatives have failed to retake the party for several years, leaving us with few options.
Other parties have sprung up and only time will tell if one of them or one yet unknown might take on the GOP and become the new home of conservatives. In theory, the Libertarian party is a fit, but they have been taken over by the legalize all drugs crowd, and in nominating Gary Johnson showed they have no intention of playing to conservatives. Had they nominated Austin Peterson, they would have had a serious contender for both conservative votes and the White House.
We have our work cut out for us and as long as we are “homeless” it will be made even more difficult. I personally will focus my efforts outside politics. We as a nation and republic…the people…have lost our way. The family is in shambles, people are willfully ignorant, and God barely has His toe in the door of our homes.
Until we change these things, the republic will continue its decline.
John Adams described the American revolution as a revolution in thought… In his 1818 letter to Hezekiah Niles, he wrote:
“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.”
Samuel Adams, while being more of a rabble–rouser, reflected the same sentiment with quotes like, “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men,” and “How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!” He continued: “He who is void of virtuous attachments in private life is, or very soon will be, void of all regard for his country. There is seldom an instance of a man guilty of betraying his country, who had not before lost the feeling of moral obligations in his private connections.”
Both were men of action and both believed that any revolution must start in the minds and hearts of men.
I hope you will work with us at Madison’s as we attempt to slowly but surely steer things back to the correct course. Nothing worth having comes easily, and things that do are taken for granted. Remember those who have gone on before and their sacrifice…
“Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it.” – John Adams