My friends, we have traveled many political miles together over the years. I have always been an adherent of conservative values in all areas, from fiscal and social to international and the role of government in a free society. My Constitutional inclinations run to the original intent of the Founders, believing they left enough flexibility in the document for the growth of our nation, but not so much as to alter or compromise the principles upon which it was founded, through “interpretation“. Principles are based on core beliefs after all, and should not be negotiable.
Over the years of our relationship, two things occurred that have driven me from your ranks to those of the Independent voters. The first rift came when the Republican party adopted the “Big Tent” idea, considering it more expedient to secure political dominance at the expense of a number of its core principles.
I have never believed in a “Win at all costs” philosophy. Nobody can remain on top all the time. When you find yourself in the minority, you must find a useful function there, even if it means obstructing the things you know are wrong that the majority wants to implement. There is nothing dishonorable or insignificant about being the brake lever on runaway government.
Things like the sanctity of life (abortion) and homosexual “rights” became negotiable, along with fiscal profligacy. These are long-held territories of the Democrats, and when you sacrifice your principles on the altar of winning, who is left to uphold the actual standards?
When Arlen Specter came to my state in 1996 seeking presidential votes for himself, I refused to shake his hand. He had flippantly marginalized and insulted me a week earlier when he referred to pro-lifers as “far right fringe“, or words to that effect. The clear implication was that real conservatives were an “inconvenience” to the party. His comment reflected his own lack of solid convictions, which has been proven by his history of reversing positions on legislation and switching parties not once, but twice during his political career. It also reflected the cynical view that politics is only about winning, not values. That same arrogance is now being directed by the Republican party at the Tea Party members, who see themselves as the keepers of conservative core values that the larger party has drifted from.
The second and final event that caused me to take my affiliation elsewhere was the insulting way the party took my vote for granted. Time after time they put up less-than-ideal candidates “whose turn it was” to run for the big office, and expected the rank and file to simply “get behind our guy“, no matter how odious or unimpressive that candidate was. Recent examples that spring to mind are Bob Dole and John McCain. Both are American military heroes. Both have been long-standing party members. Both were spectacularly poor choices as presidential candidates, but they were the “party darlings” at their respective times, good soldiers who had paid their dues.
The heavy-handed way the party withholds support from and sandbags better candidates in favor of party hacks is insulting to members like me. Coupled with the attitude of “What are you going to do — vote for the other guy?!”, I had enough, and have registered Independent for the last fifteen years. To put it into relationship terms, I left you because you were unfaithful.
The biggest problem the Republican party has today is an identity crisis. It is a problem of their own making. How can Independent voters (who now decide each of America’s national elections) choose between two parties, if one is striving daily to look like the other? Unless core values are clearly articulated in a party’s platform along with legislative proposals to institute such values, what criteria is left by which a voter can choose? Elections should never be popularity contests, lest we elect rascals and despots possessed of exceptional charm. We already have one of those in the White House, for which we are all paying a heavy price. As will our children and grandchildren.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece entitled “The Lesser of Two Weasels“. The thrust was that while the current Republican nominee for President is better by far than his opponent, he’s not nearly as desirable a champion of core conservative values as others. It is widely accepted that Romney was sandbagged last election cycle by the party apparatchiks in favor of more senior members, “because it wasn’t his turn yet.” Personally, I think he was the only candidate at that time who could have beaten Obama and saved us four years of wasted time, money and a boatload of economic misery.
I would love to return to the ranks of a truly conservative (and I don’t mean Draconian) Republican party. Yet, I’m not the one with the roving eye who wandered off. So consider coming back to your home. This nation craves values-based policies and the benefits they render.
I’ll leave the porch light on.
Image: courtesy of geograph.org.uk; author: Stephen McCulloch; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.