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January 16, 2013

It’s Not The GOP’s Fault It Is Useless But It Is Useless

Bumped.

There are no easy answers to the current state of the conservative movement or the Republican Party. Even if there were they wouldn’t matter. The real problem is with the American people.

Conservatives are fond of pointing to surveys that show majorities of people identify themselves as “conservatives” and that they support smaller government but it's clearly misleading and ultimately irrelevant.

If “conservative” means whatever the respondent thinks it means there’s no actual definition, so how can we hang our hat on that? I’m not suggesting some sort Nicene Creed one swear to before they can call themselves a “conservative”, I’m just pointing out the myth too many people believe in that prevents us from dealing with reality.

Even if all those people were roughly what could be described as “conservative” in their values and politics (which aren’t the same), their actions betray that supposed belief.

A conservative country that claims to support smaller government doesn’t elect Barack Obama not once but twice (no matter how awful Romney was). A conservative country doesn’t run up annual $1 trillion deficits and a $16 trillion cumulative debt. A conservative country doesn’t accept ObamaCare as either good policy or a law within the bounds of the Constitution. A conservative country doesn’t build a welfare state that has unfunded liabilities of "$86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP" and growing.

I could go on but you know the rest.

Far from being a bulwark against this out of control spending and growth in federal partner, the GOP has been at best an enabler and at worst a perpetrator.

And I don’t blame the GOP one bit.


Political parties and politicians are about winning elections. In the end the best way to win an election is to give a majority of the people in the electorate what they want. What far too many Americans want (even some conservative Republicans in good standing) is other people’s stuff.

How many people who voted for Mitt Romney or actual conservatives for Senate and the House want their Social Security and Medicare left untouched? How many of them give lip service to a flat tax proposal but would freak if their various tax credits and deductions were eliminated? How many of them talk a good game about getting rid of the Department of Education but would freak if aid to their kid’s district were cut?

Of course Republicans are going to respond to these people. But these people who support all sorts of government spending while talking about “the damn government” and taxes are the problem.

It’s simply too much to expect a political party to stand up to voters and say, “no”. Politics is a market and voters have become consumers. If the GOP as a whole or an individual candidate won’t give the customer what they want, they will find someone else to do business with. Consumers don’t care about the health of the places they shop, they care that they get what they want. If Brand A doesn’t have it but Brand B does, who cares so long as their needs are met.

What America needs is a movement that will not just tell people “no” but also convince them to stop being a consumer of government and look at themselves as they were meant to…an owner of the government. Once you own something your value set shifts. Owners care about efficiency, quality and the long term survival of the organization. Owners invest not simply take out.
No political party is set up to do this. It’s irrational for someone selling a product to ask their customers to take on the responsibilities of ownership. Selling is about making things easier, ownership is about hard work.

The goal we as conservatives should have…the long term health of the country, is simply incompatible with the current mindset of the American people. You can get mad at the GOP for not being evangelical for small government values but there aren’t enough of us to make it worth their while to cater to us.

The nature of the American system is hostile to third parties. That’s why conservatives have spent over 40 years trying to ‘reform” the Republican Party. We did the best we could and even had some successes (minor in the big scheme of things). Now is the time to forget about the next election or even the next several elections, leave that to the Republicans. Our goal as conservatives must be to spend less time fighting with the left and more time winning over the mushy middle. We need to stop trying to change the GOP and begin to change the American people.

How can we do this? That’s a problem. I know there’s nothing worse than someone who complains about a problem but doesn’t offer a solution. Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. I do know however that expecting to the GOP to act in a way that in the current environment is against its self interest is a waste of time.

One small step I'd love to see....let people like Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ron Johnson in the Senate resign from the GOP and form an independent-conservative caucus. Don't let the GOP take them for granted, make their relationship transactional. If the GOP needs their votes on something, extract a price. Maybe even vote with the Democrats if they offer something.

Unless we focus on the right problem, we’ll never hit upon the right answer.

digg this
posted by DrewM. at 08:16 PM

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