Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Despite what the typical liberal would tell you, conservatives are not insane. Still, when asked what conservatives should do to take back the country from its current liberal domination you often hear conservatives recycling the same old ideas that haven’t worked in the past. Let’s take a look at some of the things that haven’t worked, and then quit acting as though we’re insane.
A Conservative Messiah
In Reagan we had the closest thing to a conservative messiah we’ll ever get, and we weren’t able to permanently transform the Republican establishment or American society. Sadly, as soon as Reagan left office the Republican Party reverted to its previous form, and America once again started to drift left.
The left follows Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Rule 12 is “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” In other words, make a movement about a man, then attack the man. One of the great strengths about the Tea Party movement has been its lack of a central figure for the left to attack. I remember several times this spring seeing Democratic operatives (1) express frustration over not having an individual in the Tea Party movement to attack, and (2) attempt to make the Tea Party movement about a single person so they could attack that person.
Failing in their attempt to make the Tea Party movement about a single person, they attacked the group as whole. What did their attack accomplish? Nothing, the left’s attempts to attack the Tea Party movement—portraying its members as astroturf, racists, selfish, rich, uneducated, and even too well dressed—failed miserably.
It’s notable that the only people who want to make the Tea Party movement about an individual are those on the right that have already formed a cult-like following around an individual, and those on the left that want to personalize the movement so they can attack it. Neither have the best interest of the Tea Party movement at heart.
Movements that survive and grow over time are not about men, they are about ideas. Conservatism has survived because it is about the ideas and truths stated in The Declaration of Independence andThe United States Constitution: individual freedom and limited government; rights granted not by the government, but endowed by our maker. Creating a conservative messiah is a losing strategy for conservatism.
Our “winner takes all” political system forces us into a two-major-party setup. The last time a major-party failed and was replaced by another was in the 1850’s (and it took the Civil War to actually end the Whig Party). Supplanting either of the major political parties would be a daunting—as in not going to happen in our lifetime—task.
What happens when a serious third-party does arise? In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt became upset with the Republican Party and formed a third-party: the Bull Moose Party. The result was a Democratic victory (Bull Moose 27%, Republican 23%, Democrat 42%). In 1992 people were so dissatisfied with George H. W. Bush’s lack of conservative principles it opened the door for Ross Perot to form the Reform Party. The result was another Democratic victory (Reform 19%, Republican 37%, Democrat 43%). Note the Democratic vote amount in both cases is in the low 40% range. The only thing these third-parties accomplished was to allow Democrats to win without getting a majority of the vote.
If we establish another serious third-party will the Republican Party move to the right in an effort to get those conservative voters back? They never have in the past, why would anyone think they would in the future? Establishment Republicans believe the effort to get anyone to cross party lines (whether Democrat or third-party) is too high to be worth the cost. It is easier to shift to the left and go after the non-committed moderate/swing voter. Yes Virginia, the practical effect of conservative third-parties has been to shift the Republican Party to the left. To them it’s just a marketing problem. If conservative third-parties are eating away at your right, you need to shift left to pick up more votes.
How many political third-parties can you name? At the moment there are at least 85; eighty-damn-five! How much political impact do these 85 third-parties have? None; nada; zero! Conservatives have put a lot of time and effort into third-parties and they have accomplished nothing. We need to abandon strategies like third-parties that don’t achieve conservative goals and refocus on strategies that will achieve our goals.
Political Action Committees
Special interest groups routinely form political action committees (PACs) to get their message out and influence elections. They are used heavily by groups from all parts of the political spectrum. Conservatives have invested heavily in PACs, and we’ve had good results from using them in the past, but only good results.
If PACs were the answer to our problem, the problem would have been eliminated long ago. Not only are conservative goals not being met, but we’re actually moving backwards. Political action committees have their place, but are not the solution to achieve conservative goals.
The Republican Party
Conservatives assumed that if they worked to elect Republicans it would help to achieve conservative goals. History has shown that assumption to be false. What have we gotten in return for our loyalty? A Republican Party dominated by big-government RINOs primarily concerned about maintaining their personal power.
What is the real goal of the Republican Party? To quote one local Republican Party website: “The Republican Party’s purpose is to search and find Republican candidates for all partisan and local non-partisan offices. Its role is to also support the Republican candidates who volunteer to run for an elected office.” In other words, elect Republicans (any Republican—tall, short, skinny, fat, conservative, liberal, honest, or dishonest; as long as they call themselves “Republican” the party’s goal is to elect them).
Conservatives must come to grips with a basic fact: the Republican Party does not share our goals and simply electing Republicans is not sufficient to achieve conservative goals.
Controlling the Republican Party from the Inside
It’s tempting to think we can take over the Republican Party by placing conservatives in key positions so they can influence the party’s direction. Unfortunately, that strategy is dependent on people and personalities. Many of today’s party insiders that are trying to move the party to the left joined the Republican Party during the Reagan era as solid conservatives. So what happened? Some have succumbed by the political equivalent of the Stockholm syndrome. Eventually conservative Republican insiders come to identify themselves as Republicans rather than conservatives. Their loyalty and self-interest shifts to the Republican Party. At that point they become establishment Republicans and part of the problem.
We also have to ask the obvious question: so what if we take control of the Republican Party from the inside? Have the bureaucrats in the Republican Party ever been able to control their office holders? Do Republican politicians take their marching orders from the head of the Republican Party? Would conservatives controlling from the inside have any more influence than current party members? No, no, and double no. Controlling the Republican Party from the inside will not achieve conservative goals.
I’m going to post the entire book to Red State one chapter at a time. This book was written as a “next step” for the tea party movement. The approach is different from what we’ve done in the past (“out of the box” would be a gross understatement). But, given the recent election, the time is right for conservatives to take a hard look at their past approach to politics and try some “out of the box” strategies.
For those that would like to read ahead, the entire book is available online at TheConservativeHand.com or in print form at Amazon.com (and yes, I am the author, so no copyrights are being violated by my posting the book here).