ELDER PATRIOT – In January of 2009, as Barack Obama was preparing to be sworn in as president, a group of 23 conservative leaders met to address the debacle of 2008 elections. At question was whether a break from the Republican Party would best advance conservatism. I was asked my opinion prior to the meeting. The discussion centered on how long it would take to build a new party viable enough to have significant electoral impact versus regaining control of the then existing Republican Party.
After weighing the issues I let my views be known. I was for a complete split with the existing party. My decision had nothing to do with expectations of immediate electoral success. I expected that significant success at the polls was unlikely for a couple of election cycles.
My calculations followed these lines. Conservatives, true Conservatives holding fidelity to the Constitution, had little chance of major electoral progress following either path. My calculus centered on where we would find ourselves in 8 years. It’s now over 6 years later and my fears of losing our hold on Constitutional government is greater than ever.
Unfortunately, the 23 conservative power brokers opted to rededicate their efforts to winning back the Republican Party. They based their decision on the success Ronald Reagan had beating back the Rockefeller wing of the Republican Party.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll was released yesterday. The number of registers voters identifying themselves as liberal is increasing while those identifying as conservative is decreasing. This is hardly what one would expect with 93,000,000 people who want work unable to find it, the nation’s debt rising to unimaginable levels, the unpopularity of Obamacare, and the people’s privacy being
How can this be so? How could these 23 smart and industrious leaders have failed? Simply, they miscalculated the nefarious nature of the Republican Party’s entrenched power brokers.
By remaining with the party, the conservative leaders provided their imprimatur to the party and the party’s power brokers rather than challenging them. And, the existing leadership made good use of it, labeling moderate and even liberal candidates as conservative.
When a true conservative managed to mount a serious challenge to a moderate or liberal incumbent, the party’s power brokers resorted to the politics of personal destruction. Successful conservative challengers were refused party funding in the general election. The few who did manage to get elected were threatened with removal from key committee assignments if they refused to tow the party line. And, redistricting was used to blackmail incumbent conservatives who might’ve campaigned for bright conservative candidates.
The current Republican Party leans farther to the left than Bill Clinton and the Democrats did in 1992. It’s now undeniable, the 23 conservative leaders who met back then sorely miscalculated their lack of power. Or, worse they have been co-opted. Either way, they run the largest issue-based money mills in politics raising hundreds of millions of dollars annually from conservative donors who think they’re helping fight attacks on family values and bias in the media among a host of other hot button issues. With a Republican Party turning a deaf ear to these issues that’s money that is wasted.
It should’ve occurred to the 23 leaders that Ronald Reagan was a once-in-a-lifetime gift. Had the break from the party occurred in 2009, the new party could’ve redirected that money towards candidates that represented their views. At the same time, the existing Republican Party would’ve been weakened with the likely result of former Republican donors directing their funding towards to the newer party.
With cogent arguments being made by a party adherent to Constitutional principles it would have made it more difficult to label conservative candidates far-right radicals.
The Founders had hoped we wouldn’t devolve into a two-party system. It’s now even worse than that. Because of that decision in 2009 we are fundamentally operating under a one-party system with Constitutional government becoming increasingly a fleeting fantasy.