In these days following the re-election of President Obama, I have heard a great deal of discussion about the accuracy of pre-election polls, the inevitable catastrophe for which we are headed, and a whole lot about voter fraud. There is one topic that has been mysteriously absent, with minor exception, from the public discourse: The creation of a conservative political party.
As the various elections have come and gone over the years, I have had a growing observation that the Republican party has represented fewer of my views. Even further, those that it did continue to represent did so in such a lackluster way that I knew I was foolish to hope that they would do much to advance the causes that I as a fiscal and social conservative have held as a priority. For instance, I would argue that since the ideology of the party seems to have dissolved, the only motivation to effectively legislate abortion is to maintain political power. When the Republican Party held the House, Senate and White House during many of the Bush years, extremely powerful legislation could have been passed in order to severely dismantle abortion in America. Of course, such laws weren’t passed and for what reason but to keep pro-life voters where they belong – on the Republican Party’s front porch.
Mere hours after the defeat of Mitt Romney by Barack Obama, Erick Erickson at RedState aptly summed up the general election.
Like when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, we now know what happens when a candidate so weak anybody can beat him meets a candidate so weak he cannot beat anybody.
Keep in mind that this candidate that cannot beat anybody was the Republican party’s best shot at beating Obama. Romney was not only a weak candidate, but he severely lacked ideology, which, as I’ve written before, is all that Obama used in his campaign. The lack of a conservative candidate who resolutely stands on their principles will, more often than not, leave voters with strong ideology feeling unrepresented and taken for granted. Sure, arguing from an economic angle can be effective for the 4% of the population who are paying attention, but such a position without ideology lacks the wherewithal to motivate many principled voters to visit the ballot box.
I actually feel silly, just now connecting the dots that folks like Mark Shea have been raving about for months (perhaps I just didn’t want to admit it); the Republican party that needs conservatives intentionally doesn’t represent conservatives. In spite of this, I have always held fast to the “lesser of two evils” idea, never even considering a vote for an independent presidential candidate who has absolutely no chance at winning. What this election has shown is that the Republican Party can no longer close the deal on a sure thing, which essentially relegates them, in a Cold War geopolitical way, to third party status. It’s just a huge third party.
Because establishment Republicans’ creedless political gaming leaves them ineffectual against the Democratic machine, a void has been created, which a properly motivated party can fill. I don’t think anybody was surprised that John McCain lost to Obama in 2008, yet all the energy and excitement surrounding the Romney’s 2012 campaign was still not enough to motivate as many voters as McCain did. Simply between these two Republican candidates, 800,000 voters were lost. 20 million registered voters stayed home on November 6th. I certainly can’t claim all of them as conservatives or that even a majority would defect from the Republican Party the first time around, but a Conservative Party candidate would certainly make a dent and get the attention of voters for the next election cycle. There would certainly be the usual groaning about splitting the vote, but since the Republican Party can’t win anyway, we might as well do what we can to elevate our own principles.
Erick referred to Republican leadership this week saying,
We have a place for you here if you wish to continue the fight against Republicans in Washington like John Boehner and Mitch McConnell who’d be happy to sell us down the river to keep their power, no matter how devoid of principle or sound policy.
Is there any reason to think Romney would be any different than Boehner and McConnell? Is it foolish to think he would have fought the Republican leadership in the House and Senate had he been elected? What kind of party mantle do conservatives wear and defend and against which they must also constantly wage war? It is not bizarre for leadership to be kept in check, but some of the fight within us must be reserved for the actual opponent. It is time to have a national discussion, asking whether we christen a new ship or continue making beds on the Titanic.