[promoted from the diaries by bs]
There's a theme I notice quite often. It's not just here, it's a common in political discussions everywhere. It's the "My idea/candidate/platform plank/you name it didn't win my party's support so I'm going to stay home/switch parties/form a new party for the next election" theme.
This theme is actually counterproductive to whatever cause you were supporting since the end result of your temper tantrum is that the one outcome you least desired was helped by whatever action you took against the party. IE: If you stay home from an election because the Republican party nominated a moderate instead of a conservative, you just helped hand the election to the Democrat who is most likely a socialist.
There are a couple of variations on the theme that are different enough that they deserve separate treatment.
The most obvious and most common is "I don't like the candidate who won the primary so I'm staying home." This sounds like a rather mild protest at the party's expense, but it really is a harm to the party and the over all goals we stand for. There are 2 reasons it's harmful to our goals. The first is, as stated above, the Democrat is given an easier victory. No matter what you think of moderate Republicans (and I don't think much of them), having a moderate R in a seat is usually better than having a Democrat in the seat.
So what is it I'm asking you to do? Am I asking you to squelch your principals by voting for someone who doesn't believe in everything you believe it? No, I don't want you to put principals aside. What I'm asking you to do is to look at each election as having to pick from the best available candidate. Pick the person who best represents your values in the primary and then realize that the person who wins the Republican primary is likely to be the one who best represents your values in the general.* Even if you, like I, think that moderates often cause more harm to the party than help, consider that they will cause less harm to the COUNTRY than a Democrat. I'll take country over party every time. So bite your tongue and get out and work for that moderate SOB that won the primary.
The other variation is "I'm going to teach the party a lesson and leave to join a party that more closely matches my views". This one is a bit different. Since you're here, I assume you are conservative and you're thinking of joining the Libertarian Party or the Conservative Party.** I understand that you believe that these parties will support your views better than the Republicans. Nothing is further from the truth! These parties, though they may have platforms that appeal to you, have no chance of ever winning a significant election. They will never be able to implement any of the ideology that appeals to you. Being outside the mainstream parties, they will never be able to even influence the platforms of the Republicans or the Democrats. The only function that they serve is to split the vote. People who would otherwise vote Republican and possibly give financial aid to conservative Republican candidates are instead wasting their votes and their money supporting a lost cause. And like the people who just stay home, this helps the person you'd least like to win the election to be victorious.
Split electorates never win elections. Ross Perot split off a large chunk of people who would have voted for George Bush and Bob Dole handing the elections to Bill Clinton in both cases. Abraham Lincoln would never have been our 16th President if Douglas hadn't split the Democrat vote away from Breckenridge. And we never would have had our first socialist president, Woodrow Wilson, if Teddy Roosevelt hadn't thrown a tantrum and formed the Bull Moose party to split the vote away from Taft. It's better to stay in our party and work from the inside to move it towards a more conservative platform.
One finale argument for supporting your party. If you are unreliable in your support for the party, you will not be taken seriously. The moderates will win by default.
*There are exceptions. When the KKK leader David Duke switched from the Democrats to run as a Republican it was right to vote against him when they pushed him through the primaries. I'm not asking you to have a complete lobotomy after all...
** I think part of rebuilding our grassroots has to include bringing these people back into the fold. While they are relatively small parties on their own, when combined with the conservative movement within our party, we can start winning more elections and move this party away from the moderates.