Problem: Your general ballot for congressman, governor, senator, state representative, county commissioner or city council person does NOT contain a conservative candidate. The general election is between a moderate Republican and a Democrat (who is liberal — that pretty much goes without saying). The common retort is to “vote as conservative as you can”. In other words, hold your nose and vote for the Republican, because it will be better than having a Democrat in office — or so the thinking goes.
This has been the conventional wisdom for about 50 years. Let me ask, how’s this advice working out? Do moderate Republicans deliver on conservative agendas? Are we moving in a more conservative direction as a country and as a community?
This advice, while helping ease our conscious, does little to help to move any conservative agenda forward, and actually does much harm. Why? Because moderate Republicans are not in the business of upsetting the status quo. Moderate Republicans find their home in better managing the current systems put in place by liberal Democrats. Think about it. Where is the outcry from the National Republican party over Obamacare? At first opposition and repeal language was loud and large, but recently have you heard anything? If asked, the GOP will say they can't do anything until the have control of the Senate. But stop and think, is this the overarching theme from the Republican party for their Senate candidates? Do you think once in control of the Senate the GOP will repeal Obamacare? Or do you think the GOP will instead try to make Obamacare better and more manageable? Will they work with the President on some sort of compromise to get something done? If you guessed the second answer, you're getting it. Moderate candidates and legislators are all about being liked and getting along. That’s how they get re-elected — which is their #1 goal that supersedes all other policy matters. Fighting to tear down a bureaucracy is not in their nature and therefore they won't take a stand unless there is complete political cover for such an action. Why? Because tearing down a government program means people benefiting from the program become upset. When people get upset they make a lot of noise and demonize the person taking away their freebie. Moderates melt in such conditions like an ice cube on the equator. Therefore moderates avoid any such activity of undoing government programs and bureaucracies put in motion by Democrats.
Moreover, voting in a moderate Republican to office gives the appearance of opposition to a Democratic agenda. So after moderate Republican policies fail (because they are really Democrat-lite policies) voters then turn to the Democrats as an “alternative”. But as previously stated, these two groups are really the same group, driving policies down the same set of tracks; it’s just one group likes to drive the train faster than does the other — but they are both headed in the same direction: more government, more taxes, less liberty.
What to do?
What is a conservative to do when there is no conservative on the ballot? Well first, we must ask, did we do everything in our power to get a conservative through the primary and into the general election? Did we really work to unseat an ensconced moderate GOP from his or her seat or were we okay to vote moderate again because an R is better than a D (besides that’s the best we could do)? Basically, we are in this dilemma because we are not engaged enough, we are not recruiting enough, we are not in the public square enough fighting for our ideas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as opposed to more legislation, more regulation, more nanny-state. Too many of us sit on our hands and expect others to do the heavy lifting. There are not enough risk takers in the conservative movement. We are mostly a group of critics who like to talk with one another but when it comes time to get involved — that's for someone else, we can't take the risk or we're too busy. Until that changes we only have ourselves to blame. Second, when it comes time to vote and there is no conservative candidate, write in a conservative, don't vote for the moderate. Even “Mickey Mouse” is a better option than the moderate candidate who pretends to hold our values but will always choose the liberal idea because it is easier, more popular and has fewer obstacles to their next election cycle.
In essence the real battle is the primary election. If we lose the primary, the election is really over for that cycle. It is this author’s opinion that 50-years of voting for the moderate Republican has failed us. We need a new strategy. That new strategy is to stop voting for the moderate Republican in the general and spend our energy working towards the next primary cycle with a true conservative candidate that can win. The work must begin now, not in 18 months. If a Democrat wins the general, we now have someone to tie directly to failing policies. Moderate Republicans are great chameleons and can sound conservative when they need to, so it is even more difficult to remove them once in power. I would much rather us beat the moderate Republican in the primary and then face an incumbent Democrat in the general any day. The case against a Democrat’s time in office will be as easy as making Cool Aide — their policies never work because they never can work.
Until we conservatives abandon the notion that voting for moderate is the best we can do, the further down this government-provides-everything-for-us rabbit hole we will find ourselves.