America is shifting to the left. Its leadership, policies, and actions are being steadily pulled to represent a liberal national stance on issues domestic and foreign.
Notice that I didn’t state that Americans are shifting to the left. Many are, but there has also been a natural and necessary counterbalance of others who are anchoring themselves to more conservative philosophies.
While there is an abundance of reasons for the rift that has formed within the GOP (the rise of the alt-right, changing perspectives on trade, deceptive “conservative” media outlets, and Donald Trump’s nomination, to name a few), one reason that doesn’t get enough attention is the battle being waged by smaller-government-loving Constitutional conservatives.
This isn’t new, but the nature of the fight has become more ferocious in recent years. Repetitive promises made by GOP leadership are proven wrong with every approved President Barack Obama budget, every moderate primary victory over a conservative, and every retreat on important issues like internet control and Planned Parenthood funding.
(AP Photo/Patrick T. Fallon)
We, the conservatives, are contributing to the rift and that’s a positive thing.
Every election, more patriots are waking up to the truth that the GOP will not fight for conservatism, whether fiscal or social. Most successful Republican politicians have invoked Ronald Reagan and the Constitution during campaign seasons only to abandon those ideas for the big-government status quo that feeds them once they’re in office. To the base, conservatism is a principle, a philosophy by which we live our lives. To most Republican politicians, it’s nothing more than a part of their sales pitch.
These realities leave conservative voters with three options: try to fix things from within the party, work with a preexisting third party, or build a new one. Let’s examine all three options to determine which is the most viable. For full disclosure, I’m actively working towards launching a new conservative party following the election. It was my last resort; attempts at the first two options proved to be futile.
Fix the GOP from Within
Since the 1960s, this has been the primary rallying cry for conservatives. Leaders of the conservative movement have attempted to guide the Republican Party away from the “establishment” calls for pragmatic populism. Millions of us believe that our republic was built on a foundation laid by the founding fathers with the Constitution. Attempts to modernize the core of our nation for the sake of progressivism do much more harm than good.
The conservative GOP movement hit some high points and low points. The 2008 election of Obama was one of the lowest. We were facing an extremely liberal president with a vision of fundamental transformation and a Democratic majority in both chambers of Congress to see him through. In response, the Tea Party movement was formed.
In the early days of the Tea Party, leaders had to decide whether they were going to form a movement or a new party. At the time, they chose working as a movement to walk the GOP back towards conservatism. After taking the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, it seemed like everything was heading in the right direction. Conservatives were beating moderates in primaries, then winning many of their elections. Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were direct beneficiaries of the movement in their initial Senate victories.
Then, 2016 happened. The movement came to a screeching halt. Power brokers within the GOP started coming down hard on conservatives, ejecting them from races with moderates winning primaries and bullying many of the conservatives remaining to align with the populist message. After a glimmer of hope appeared, the pestilence of centrist moderation started spreading through the party once again.
This year, the post-election GOP script has already been written. Regardless of who wins the various races, we will hear the call for pragmatism and inclusion. We will be told that the party must be smarter going forward. They will confuse the masses by lumping in the alt-right with Constitutional conservatives. Then, they’ll declare the need for steadier hands at the wheel. The GOP will again be the party of John McCain and Mitch McConnell without opposition. Their Tea Party problem has been solved.
The only part of small-government Constitutional conservatism that the GOP wants is their votes. They don’t want our opinions. They want to drown out our voices. They are content with being the party in the middle knowing that if there’s no party on the right that can challenge them, they’re better off with moderates, even leftists as their candidates. As long as they invoke the mantle of Reagan and say they’re pro-life and pro-Second Amendment, they can continue to win and bloat the government to the point of fiscal ruin.
The GOP cannot be fixed from within because party leadership is entrenched. They thrive on confusion by co-opting “conservatism” for their sales pitches while acting like 90s Democrats with their policies. We have no place in their party.
Work with a Preexisting Third Party
Before starting down the road of building a new party, I researched and contacted every conservative third party under the sun. It was disastrous.
On the surface, they’re extremely similar. The GOP platform, while not representative of Republican political action, is aligned very nicely with the proposed platforms of the Constitution Party, America’s Party, and many of the other conservative parties that aren’t mere blips on the radar. Policy or platform has never been a problem for these smaller parties. Even their candidates seemed strong; two in particular are extremely impressive and would make for excellent “conscience” votes.
Therein lies the problem. That’s all they are. I was utterly shocked at how little had been accomplished by these parties, some of whom were formed decades ago. Their strategies were designed to never allow for anything other than a venue of protest votes. They had no growth initiatives and had adopted technological practices that were made for Geocities and flip phones instead of data-driven targeting for a smart-device society. One of the largest of these third parties has a link on their homepage to their Vimeo account where the three most recent videos they uploaded were Mailchimp integration tutorials.
To break through the barrier that surrounds the two-party system, a party must have extreme velocity. It’s like trying to leave the earth’s atmosphere. A rocket must achieve 33X the speed of sound in order to pull away from Earth’s gravitational pull. Breaking through the barrier of the two-party system requires a party to grow quickly with a modern viral strategy and have enough fuel (money) to sustain those speeds. Every third party that I looked at has as much of a chance of being viable in national elections as a 747 has of going to the moon.
Conservatives need better. We need candidates that can attract more than protest votes. Complete revamps of a preexisting third party would require willingness on their part and a tremendous grassroots effort on our part. Long-term, it’s much more practical to start fresh and unite the other parties when they’re ready rather than try to rebuild them from the ground up. If we’re starting at the ground level, we might as well build something properly in the first place.
Form a New Conservative Third Party
On the surface, this seems to be the hardest choice. That’s why it’s never been successful. The inability to suspend disbelief in the viability of such a project has prevented those capable of doing it from even trying. Things are different, now. 2016 is different. America is different.
There are three primary advantages to building new instead of working within the GOP or working with a preexisting third party.
- Angst is at its highest point. Many who are supporting GOP candidates today are doing so reluctantly. Not since the 19th century has there been a stronger calling for a third option. If we strike while the iron is hot, we can gather the numbers necessary for success much more quickly than at any other time in modern history.
- Technology is on our side. Even as recently as 2009 when the Tea Party was being formed, it was challenging to reach the masses with a great message. Today, we can reach the masses without having to buy expensive television ads or bulk mailers. With a modest budget, we were able to reach millions of voters during the primaries and keep conservatives going for as long as possible. That’s the real beauty of modern communication. It doesn’t take millions of dollars to reach millions of conservatives.
- The target groups are ready for the truth. This isn’t just about older white male conservatives. The message of the conservative movement has been tainted to many of the most important groups: socially conservative minorities, passion-driven millennials, and everyday blue- and white-collar conservatives who have been Republicans or Reagan Democrats their whole lives. All of these groups represent vulnerabilities for both parties. They are small demographics within their current parties, but combined they represent formidable numbers. Today, they aren’t being reached by anyone… including their current parties. They’re ready for something new.
The Democratic Party is on a collision course with full-blown socialism, abortion on demand, open borders, and a reinterpreted Second Amendment. The Republican Party is making its play to be the centrist party. They are already the party of big government, big spending, and crony capitalism crushing actual capitalism. They’re only going to move further to the left after this election cycle.
There is a gaping hole forming. Constitutional conservatives can no longer be the voters who accept the lesser of two evils given to them by the GOP. We have a responsibility to fill the void being left by the two major parties. To do this, we must band together in a new tent, one that promotes life, freedom, and smaller federal government. The Republican Party is leaving us behind. We can either choose to follow them to the left or stand firm on the right.
I choose standing firm. What do you choose?
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