For those of you who don’t regularly read my writing, I am a card-carrying capital-L Libertarian who has been engaging conservative and libertarian Republicans throughout the GOP presidential nomination process. To a great extent the debates have been about strategy more than objective, although there has been substantive debate as well. By strategy I mean: What is the best way to advance a liberty agenda?
As a third party supporter I have rejected the Republican Party as a corrupt, irredeemable organization incapable of being transformed into either a conservative or libertarian organization. Others—if not most—disagree. This post is intended to continue to further advance the discussion about Republican Party politics within the context of the current presidential nomination process.
Question 1: Is this election cycle really about “Anybody But Obama?”
I hear Republican supporters describe this election as being about electing Anybody but Obama (aka “ABO”). This formulation appears to be leading the nomination process in the direction the GOP establishment and the media would like it to go—which is for a “safe” statist candidate like Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich to get the nomination.
Let me explain this further. If this election is truly about “ABO,” then Republicans should be excited about the prospect of Hillary Clinton switching parties and running as an “R,” as she would be a formidable opponent for Obama. Or perhaps the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders could be on the ticket. Maybe the GOP can field a Chris Dodd/Barney Frank ticket. Dodd-Frank for president! Yay team!
These suggestions are, of course, ridiculous (I hope), but I make them for a reason. No self-respecting Republican would support the nomination of any of these politicians, so this election isn’t about “anybody” but Obama.
What is the election about, then?
Let me suggest that it is about saving the country from a fiscal train and economic wreck. In other words it is about “Save the Country,” not “Anybody But Obama.” If I’m correct, then the next question is whether Romney or Gingrich has the wherewithal to get us off our terminal track. Would they be better than Obama? Yes. Do they have what it takes to save the country? I answer that question with a resounding “NO.”
So, conservative Republicans, is this election about Anybody But Obama, or something else such as Saving the Country? Your answer to that question will go a long way toward shaping how you participate in the nomination process.
Question 2: Why do conservatives want to “take over” the GOP?
Last week Rush Limbaugh correctly observed that the GOP establishment dislikes conservatives (and libertarians) even more than Democrats. I dislike using the word “hate,” but I don’t think “despise” is going too far. As many have noted, conservative (and libertarian) Republicans suffer from “abused voter syndrome.” So why do conservatives remain so enamored with an organization that thinks less of you than your so-called opponents, the Democrats?
I understand that there’s a certain sense of permanence surrounding the GOP since a major party hasn’t been overthrown since the GOP wiped the Whigs out of existence shortly before the Civil War. Yes, I understand that the Republican Party has ballot access in all 50 states, and I understand it has a “brand name” after all these years—although the brand name remains worse than dog food, so that’s not exactly a strength.
But on the other hand, the GOP has very little formal structure other than at the highest levels. (Can you name the head of the RNC? Didn’t think so.) Each election the Republican Party has to recreate its local base, as it cares little for Main Street in the intra-election periods. And the GOP counts on conservatives and libertarians at the grass roots level to do the boots-on-the-ground work to elect establishment anti-conservative candidates. In other words, the establishment wants your vote, your money, and your hard work—but not your input as to how the country should be run.
Why do conservatives put up with this abuse?
Question 3: How long do conservatives think your theoretical “takeover” of the GOP is going to take?
I was listening to Mark Levin last week, and he came out and endorsed Michele Bachmann—good for him. In his ensuing discussion, he echoed many of the same concerns that I expressed above. He conceded that a Romney or Gingrich victory in 2012 would not be a conservative victory, and he said that the conservative takeover will take many election cycles to occur.
But do we really have that kind of time, even if it is possible (which it is not)? Our looming debt crisis is not a long-term concern. It is a short-to-medium term problem. That’s part of the reason why I am a card-carrying Libertarian; I want to save the country, not the GOP. If conservatives seriously think you can redeem the irredeemable, good luck. The doo-doo is going to hit fan long before you can hijack the Republican Party.
This article will conclude tomorrow. It is also published at The Country Thinker.