What we need as a party in order to elect a national government of strong conservatives.
Republican politics can basically be boiled down to three P's: Principles, People, Policies. In order for good government to happen, they have to be in that order. Every political fight I've ever seen--at least, between Republicans or conservative/libertarians, has occurred because people ignore one or more of those, or approach them in the wrong order.
Principles: These are not political opinions, these are the foundations of political opinions. For conservatives, they are the God-given rights to life, liberty and property, and the basic belief structures that follow from these: that the government's only duty is to protect those rights, that it isn't the government's place to create or guarantee prosperity because it cannot, and that the most corrupt government is one that is in the business of picking winners and losers. If a Republican cannot articulate these basic truths, do not vote for them.
People: Many Republicans, both "establishment" and "Tea Party" make the mistake of voting based on personal traits or accomplishments instead of principles. The Texas Senate runoff is a great example of this: Cruz supporters like the fact that they have a "challenger" candidate who connects with them tonally, who worked for William Rehnquist and is Hispanic. Dewhurst supporters like that their candidate is an independent businessman, experienced politician and served in the military. All of those things are important, but ONLY when determining who is more prepared to articulate and defend the principles outlined above. If personalities are put before principles, bad government is the result, and we see that time and time again. Yes, this includes things like Mitt Romney's business experience, Sarah Palin's attitude and family, Mike Huckabee's background as a pastor, and MOST IMPORTANTLY POLITICAL EXPERIENCE. It doesn't matter how long someone has held public office or how well they know the process: if you don't think they hold or care about defending principles you agree with, vote them out!
Policies: We, as private citizens, need to realize that there is very little we can do to directly affect policy. Unfortunately, this is where we spend the most time. Pretty much every Republican holds the same opinions on abortion, illegal immigration, taxes, spending (at least in broad strokes) and every other hot-button issue. The reason for that is that our principles lead us to mainly the same conclusions. IF we elect people who hold to those same principles, and have the experience and intelligence to apply them correctly, we don't need to even worry about policy because it'll take care of itself. However, if we put policy before people or principles, then we get politicians who agree with us on the issues the media tells us are important, but then go behind closed doors and do what they want, do what is most profitable for them, or worst of all, have absolutely no idea what to do. This is why we have spending that has spiraled out of control, despite the Republican takeover of the House: they don't know what to say yes to and what to say no to, because many of them, deep down, don't really have conservative principles (or at least enough don't that when they team up with Democrats, who will spend as much as possible, they can form a majority). This is also where Newt Gingrich syndrome comes in: people like hearing "ideas" and "solutions," and adopt the ones that sound good, but completely abandon basic conservative ideals in the pursuit of permanent solutions to transient problems.
If we're going to change our government, we have to change ourselves first. We have to start asking our politicians not only what they think, but why. Instead of asking their opinions on the issues of the day, ask them questions such as:
What does the Constitution say about that?
What natural right does your position on this issue protect?
What do you believe is the proper role of government on this issue?
If your representatives cannot answer basic questions like these, throw them out and replace them with people who can. And when you make your decisions in this runoff, or any other Republican primary, think about which candidates would give better answers to those questions. Because in the end, nothing else matters.
[I posted this as a Facebook status initially, but I figured since I had an account here I'd throw it up here as well. The Texas primary has made me think a lot about the state of the conservative movement, and I wanted to get all my thoughts in one place. But I'm probably not saying anything that anyone here doesn't already know]--Scott