Politics Disenfranchised Con

Disenfranchised Republicans

What Should Conservatives Do?

By Daniel Muniz

Conservatives have been greatly alarmed by the disturbing trend of the GOP abandoning its core conservative principles. The very fundamentals that made up the foundation of the Republican Party have been disintegrating for the past several years. As Dick Morris poignantly explained about fiscal policy:

Republicans need to start acting like Republicans, not drunken, big spending Democrats, and stopping earmarks is a good way to start.

In fact, it seems that every time that there is an open seat in the House or Senate, the knee jerk reaction from Party leaders is that only a moderate stands the best chance to win it. In fact, the Party has bent over backwards to support far too many dubious Republicans like Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island who by the way, never voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and eventually abandoned the GOP after he lost.

However, the course of action that a number of conservatives have taken is to not vote at all or to vote for a third party. It is the latter that has entertained the conscience of a huge number of disenfranchised conservatives. Although not voting at all is a viable option for some, it is largely unthinkable to people who at least want to be engaged in the political process even though they feel as though they are no longer represented by the GOP.

Just about every serious conservative has been disillusioned at one time or another by the Republican Party. In the past, conservatives used to make up a sizable portion of the Democratic Party but they voted with their feet by joining the GOP. Today, many conservatives are a bit distraught because there really is nowhere else to go. The Constitution Party is totally worthless and the Libertarian Party is run by a bunch of kooks.

However, some still feel that voting for a third party candidate is a way to stick it to a spineless Republican officeholder or candidate. George Bush Senior got a taste of it when huge numbers of Republicans flirted with the Reform Party. Unfortunately, he was unable to get enough of them to return to the fold even when Ross Perot self-destructed. Those defections resulted in the election of Bill Clinton.

In my own state of Texas, I felt that I got stabbed in the back by Governor Rick Perry. If I could do it all over again, I would have voted for Kinky Friedman. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson hates Washington politics because she is uncomfortable with the number of conservative positions that she has to take even though she hails from a state as conservative as Texas. She does a great job in telling her constituents exactly what they want to hear and placates them by casting enough conservative votes but she shouldn’t be in office if she is too phony to be a real conservative.

So what is a conservative Republican to do?

The worst possible choice is to do is to do absolutely nothing. Understandably, there are certain districts and states where it is purely a “lose-lose” situation in which there is no lesser of two evils so maybe there are occasions where it is better to sit this one out and see where the chips fall.

The next worst possible decision is to vote for someone that doesn’t have an (R) by their name. However, there are always exceptions. In Connecticut, most Republicans voted for Joe Lieberman. The Republican nominee didn’t stand a chance in a three way race but Lieberman offered the best opportunity to maintain the Global War on Terror and he was a far better alternative than the extremely liberal Democratic nominee.

As for me, there are plenty of times that I voted for a Libertarian because the Republican was totally worthless. There is a state senator who is a Country Club Republican and is beloved by so many Democrats because of his staunchly liberal views. I volunteered my time for his opponent in the Republican primary. Although the challenger narrowly lost (something like one vote per precinct) in the primary election, for the general election I could not vote for someone so brazenly liberal that I opted for the Libertarian.

But for the most part, the preferred option is to vote for the squishy Republican. I have to admit that it is hard to do especially for people who live in districts where a Republican deserves to lose.

The leftward trend of the GOP can be corrected only if conservatives choose to remain in the Party because they are the only ones who can fix it. That is pretty hard medicine to swallow but it is nevertheless the only way that it can be done. Conservatives raised holy hell with Harriet Miers and the amnesty bill, so much so that the GOP leadership abandoned their course of action. It took a huge amount of effort from the grassroots which not only surprised the Republicans in Washington DC, but shocked them with the amount of ire that was directed towards them.

As a result, the only way that the GOP can change is if conservatives do more for their party instead of less or abandoning it altogether. And it means so much more than just voting for someone who has an (R) beside their name. It means volunteering your time, money, and effort only to candidates and organizations that truly represent your beliefs. It also means being a part of that critical mass that can turn the tide like the outrage for the amnesty bill.

The Republican Party can be rebuilt only if there are enough conservatives sticking around to hold their elected official’s feet to the fire. This is not a top-down process but a movement that has to start at the bottom and work itself all the way to the top.