With just over 2 weeks until the Trump train reaches the end of the line, it is not too soon to start asking where conservatives go from here. In the guest post below, J.D. Rucker makes a case for starting a new party:
Regardless of the outcome of the Presidential election, 2016 will mark a low point for the Republican Party. We saw the rise, fall, and rise again of the Establishment as the dominant force that fended off many Tea Party conservatives. We witnessed the rapid ascension of the alt-right; they are no longer seen as the fringe that we thought they were just a year ago. One does not have to be opposed to Donald Trump to realize that the GOP is much more comfortable with populism than Constitutional conservatism.
The end of this election cycle will yield three camps within the GOP. Some will attempt to regroup within the party to make it fit the Bush-McCain-McConnell Establishment model that has dominated for over two decades. Others will push for the “new GOP,” one that embraces a combination of populism, alt-right ideology, and a faux anti-Establishment bravado that will be more of a Steve Bannon rebranding effort than anything that’s actually fighting the Establishment. A good chunk of Republicans will push for conservative revival within the party.
The first two groups are going to succeed with their goals and will struggle for power against the conservative remnant in preparation for 2018 and 2020 races. They will give the outward appearance of conflict but will be walking in lockstep behind the scenes. This strange but predictable alliance will be centered around Trumpism 2.0. They’ll say that Trump had the right ideas but the wrong delivery. If he wins, he’ll lead the party from the White House. If he loses, he’ll lead a portion of the party from the media empire he is building. Either way, party power brokers will repackage the things that helped him win the nomination while tempering them with Establishment pragmatism.
These scenarios leave the third group, Constitutional conservatives, in the same place they’ve been in since 1989: on the outside looking in. The Tea Party gave us hope with the rise of many rock-ribbed Republican politicians like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and the Freedom Caucus in the House. However, these victories left conservatives with a much smaller share of the influence compared to their share of the vote. How is that possible? Why can’t conservatives get a foothold within the GOP? To answer those questions, we have to understand how they – Establishment and alt-right Republicans – perceive us.
We’re necessary evils in their eyes. More importantly, we’re captive audiences. They realize that we might complain until we’re blue in the face about moderates making deals with the Democrats that give them everything and leave conservative values out of the equation, but they know that we’ll still vote their way. We’ll vote for people like Kelly Ayotte over Maggie Hassan. It doesn’t matter that Ayotte scores an abysmal 30% on her CR Liberty Card. She’s pro-life with the letter (R) next to her name, so conservatives will vote for her.
That’s the problem. They don’t need to listen to conservatives. They don’t even need to pander to conservatives. All they have to do is say the word “conservative” during campaign speeches and we’ll reluctantly give them our votes. They just have to invoke Ronald Reagan’s name, claim to be pro-life, and declare that they’ll defend the 2nd Amendment and we’ll accept their candidate as the lesser of two evils.
A conservative revival is impossible in the GOP because the Republican Party knows we won’t vote Democrat. They know that we are stuck with them. They herd us around and keep us in line with fear of what a Democratic victory will do instead of giving us the conservative solutions we want.
We cannot allow this to continue. We need a new party that will allow both the Republicans and Democrats to do what they both want to do anyway: push further to the left.
Democrats are on a trajectory towards communism. They are getting bolder with their liberal rhetoric and more ambitious with their most liberal candidates.
Republicans want to land squarely in the middle. They believe that as long as they keep their actions aligned with populist views, they can overcome the occasional conservative infiltrator. They can handle the Freedom Caucus as long as most Republicans in the House are aligned with Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy. They can survive Cruz, Lee, or Rand Paul standing on their soapboxes as long as the soapboxes are kept small.
If they want the middle, let them have the middle. We will never be able to pull them back to the right without fear that a truly organized and empowered conservative third party is there to offer an alternative. On the other hand, if a third party can hold enough support to cause real pain for the GOP, they will be forced to either embrace us or fight a two-front war.
Imagine a third party that worked outside of the GOP but that endorsed a selection of conservatives in Republican primaries. If the conservative wins the primary, we would support them. If the party nominates a centrist, we’ll run the conservative against them through our party in the general election. That is tangible pain because it means that the GOP will have to split the vote on the right. By decreasing their chances of winning with their moderates, they’ll quickly learn their best chance of winning is with conservatives. Does that mean we’ll have to suffer through some Democratic victories? Yes. It will hurt in the short term. It’s the only way to save the country in the long run.
Some would say that it’s a destructive path because doing so would temporarily empower Democrats. It’s that fear that has always kept conservatives in line with the GOP. As a group, we’ve always accepted their lesser of two evils. It’s time to take the hits now in order to make a better future. Moreover, we have to understand that many GOP victories do not result in lesser evils. We gave the GOP majorities in both chambers of Congress, yet nothing changed. There was literally zero difference in end results than had the Democrats been in control. Republicans did not cut spending. They didn’t reduce government. They gave President Obama everything he wanted. If the Democrats had controlled both chambers, we would be in the exact situation we’re in today.
It’s a farce. It needs to end.
The only path forward for America’s future is through Constitutional conservatism that embraces freedom, life, and smaller government. This cannot be accomplished through the GOP. It cannot be accomplished through righteous but relatively powerless conservative movements like the Tea Party. It can only be accomplished when we band together to form a new conservative party.
If we’re successful, one of two things will happen: either the GOP will learn to comply and we can force conservatism onto them or we can have a true three-major-party system with Democrats to the far left, Republicans in the middle, and our party to the right.
The party cannot be fixed from within. They will continue their leftward lurch until conservatives are willing to finally “stand athwart history yelling, ‘stop!’” We will be launching our party immediately after the election. Raise your hand and prepare to be counted in the very near future. We have the strategy to succeed and thanks to modern communication technology, we have the resources to reach proper velocity before the next election cycle. Today is the day to act. Will you?