This has everything to do with the elections.
The conservatives in the party have had it up to here (waving hands above my head) with the Republican Party.
Because they are no longer conservative. The days of Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan are long over, and the chance of anyone sane getting a leadership position in the house or senate is very low.
We’ve seen this pattern in states all across the country. We are suffering from the effects of it here at home in Washington State.
The disease progresses like this. First, republicans are swept into congress based on their promises of real change and real reform. The changes and reform usually look something like this:
- Lower taxes and regulations so that people can earn a living and hire people to work for them.
- Limit the scope and size of government by outsourcing the work that government does and actually reducing the budget year to year.
- Expand and improve the efficiency of government in roles that it was assigned to do. This includes defense, law enforcement, the judicial system, and infrastructure like roads.
- Clean up the corruption by prosecuting corrupt officials (elected or otherwise) and stopping practices that are definitely in the gray area such as earmarks.
Once the republicans are swept into office, they quickly realize that they didn’t get enough seats to really see all these reforms through. They end up sitting across the table from the negotiators from the old members of government. They start making deals. They start cutting out priorities to get other priorities moving forward.
At the end of the day, they realize that not only have they not delivered on any of their promises, but that they have become what they despised. In order to achieve anything, they are doing exactly what they promised not to do. A desperate effort is made to sieze a super-majority, because with a super-majority, the negotiations are no longer necessary.
So they sit down with their campaign advisers, and ask, “How can we pick up even more seats next year?” And these campaign advisers do the math and research and polling and say, “You have to do what the other folks were doing, except better.”
So they run through a political season doing what the other folks do, all the while the original supporters are left wondering why everything changed. Why does Mike Conservative sound like Tom Liberal? Without the support of the people that elected them into office in the first place, and without being able to do what the other guys do better, they end up losing seats.
And then they sit down across the aisle in the minority, realizing that whatever power they once had was quickly squandered, and they have no hope of ever getting it back.
This is what happens. This is what happened here in Washington. This is what is likely going to happen in other states.
How do you change this? Well, it’s not easy. You can be tough in negotiations. That only means you will get nothing rather than a few things with compromise. So you’ll have to return to your supporters and say, “We accomplished nothing, but at least we didn’t slide backwards. Elect me and my friends next year and maybe we’ll get something, but I can’t promise it unless we get a super-majority.” That’s obviously not going to work, since the supporters are not there every year like clockwork. They get tired, disenchanted, and go home to go back to work.
You could try to be more conservative but still compromise. This is the position a lot of people have taken in congress. They wag their fingers at the less conservative members who wag their fingers back and say, “At least we are elected and in the majority. That’s all that counts, right?”
You could try to be a stealthy conservative. That is, Ted Kennedy on the outside but Ronald Reagan on the inside. This simply doesn’t work, for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for this all. Until the public shifts their opinions so that only conservatives are acceptable (and I believe we are shifting that way, slowly), we can’t expect to see the conservative agenda be the top priority for all conservative politicians.
All I can say to the republicans in office is: Do the best you can, stick to your guns as much as you can, but realize that we would rather have something than nothing. When you have someone like McCain that is abandoning the SS Conservative, it’s fair game to thrust him out of the party, but when you have a good chunk of the party saying, “We need earmarks or we don’t show up next year,” then maybe you need to soften the tone a little.
I don’t expect every candidate to be the most conservative candidate, especially those coming from more liberal districts. But I do expect those coming from conservative districts to be extremely conservative.
And all I can say to the people who vote is: Fight like mad in the primaries for the most conservative candidates, let the party know that you are not going to take it anymore. Prefer new blood to old blood, because we know that in politics, old blood is usually dirty blood. But when it comes to the generals, hold your nose, put your should to the wheel, and work as if the candidate were Ronald Reagan II.
We really need a massive shift in public opinion so that everyone everywhere abhors socialism and embraces the free market and limited government. That happens as we have talented people explain and defend these ideals, and as that message reaches out to the masses. Thanks to the liberation of media (especially talk radio, but there are other forms gaining hearts and minds like Fox News), this will be possible. But let’s remember why the airwaves are free-er today than they were thirty years ago. Someone called President Reagan made it a priority, above almost everything else, to see that the fairness doctrine was eradicated.
So conservatives, choose your priorities wisely, and carefully, and stick to your guns but be willing to compromise if it means the most important things can get done.