Monday, March 29, 2010

What Will Novemeber Bring?

Besides my take on the passage of Obamacare, I have been most asked the following types of questions as of late by concerned citizens: Can we actually get some good guys in office this Fall? Do you think the Republicans will take back the House come election night? Will the Tea Party actually be able to have a positive effect on the conservative movement in November?

Well...I'm no soothsayer; so my knowledge of the future is just as good as the next guy. Moreover, I think that each of these questions, though they may overlap, are referring to different things. Nevertheless, I will attempt to unpack the political situation as I see it.

Yes, the Democrats have been engaging in very unpopular behavior for a number of years which has escalated over the past 14 months, and they have just passed a mammoth piece of unpopular legislation--Obamacare. But we need only look back to the 2004 re-election of George W. Bush to see that unpopularity and poor policy does not always guarantee electoral failure. Despite this reality, I see major gains for the GOP come November unless their is a drastic, unforeseen change in the political environment.

Therefore, if one is merely concerned with success for those running under the Republican brand, it will be a good year. This does not mean, however, that 2010 will be a great year for conservatism. As we can see from our current crop of Republicans, true conservatism and a commitment to limited government principles couldn't be further from many in the GOP's minds.

Indeed, 2010 should be a great year for conservatism and a great year for the restoration of the Republican Party to its conservative platform, but if early signs hold true, those of us who love liberty and the Constitution may be left wanting. I say this not for lack of opportunity nor for lack of strength in our cause. Rather, my doubts stem from both the party establishments' support of non-principled candidates and from movements like the Tea Party folks' perceived willingness to pick the "lesser of two evils." The establishment of both parties is powerful in its support of the status quo; since the current status quo is against liberty, the tide will not be easily turned. Moreover, if those who claim to want change side with "the lesser of two evils," there will be no hope for lasting change--unless the change one wants is a government full of liberals like Scott Brown and John McCain.

Not to sound overly pessimistic, I would like to clarify my opinion. I do think good things will come about this Fall. Good conservatives, like Kentucky's Rand Paul, will have success, and our country will benefit greatly from it. Likewise, many bad officeholders will be punished by losing their seats. Moreover, I think that the Tea Party movement and the whole host of other movements under the "liberty" banner have a great opportunity to do good and put constitutionalists into office this Fall. The time is ripe, and the moment should not be wasted.

But I have also been around politics long enough to know that people are often short sided and quick to sell out their principles. If the Tea Party movement uses its influence merely as an arm of the GOP, we as small government advocates will see electoral failure. Until shills like Sean Hannity are called out on their hypocrisy, rather than being celebrated as movement torch-bearers, their will be great difficulty in restoring a constitutional republic. Moreover, the GOP is not the conservative movement. This needs to be noted. I believe that working within the GOP provides the most promising electoral prospect, and as conservatives and libertarians, we can assert our influence to take back the GOP from neoconservatives and political progressives. But the acknowledgement that working within the GOP may be the best path to power, does not mean that we should wholesale endorse GOP candidates. Only those who share our values and principles deserve our support; others should e opposed. If we don't act accordingly, we will be doomed.

It is my fear that November will bring compromise and neglect of principle that will usher Republicans into office but leave conservatives and libertarians out.

The only way to combat this potential march of the RINOs is to hold strongly to principle. There should be no blind partisanship, no choosing "the lesser of two evils," and no room for selling out. If we do not demand a higher standard from our candidates and our representatives, we will continue to reap these poor results, and we may reap nothing but more bad governance come election day.

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