What is a modern conservative to do?


  For the GOP the goal is obvious: do well in the 2014 midterms and retake the presidency in 2016.

     The problem is that in order to achieve these goals, the Republican party must successfully navigate a route between the Scylla of Karl Rove on the one hand and the Charybdis of the Tea party on the other.

     Karl Rove and the Tea Party present two radically different possible models for the future GOP, and both are flawed.

     In one corner stands Turd Blossom, Karl Rove, prime mover of the Super PAC American Crossroads, who is aligned with both the Republican establishment in Washington, DC and the Chamber of Commerce.

     In the other corner stands the populist Tea party, whose members are the heir of Ronald Reagan. The Tea Party of couse, favors the sort of belt-tightening measures popular at the proverbial American dinner table such as smaller government and lowering the national debt, but that’s putting it mildly.

     Karl Rove’s vision of the GOP has been on display before. As much as we would prefer to forget them, George W. Bush’s two terms were largely representative of Karl Rove’s philosophy of “compassionate conservatism,” which may have more in common with the political philosophy of the Obama administration than we conservatives would like to admit. Consider this, dear friends – under Rove’s compassionately conservative watch the Bush administration:

  • passed the No Child Left Behind Act, which expanded the role of the federal government in public education and handed taxpayers the bill.
  • expanded the federal entitlement program known as Medicare by augmenting it with prescription drugs.
  • pursued large-scale nation building in Iraq.
  • shredded the Bill of Rights by passing the Patriot Act and laying the foundation for the modern surveillance state.
  • attempted to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
  • tried to nominate a supremely unqualified and ideologically suspect candidate, Harriet Miers, to the Supreme Court for reasons of personal favoritism.
  • passed the TARP act, which bailed out America’s financial institutions at the expense of the taxpayer.

     Other examples are legion. I’m sure that Newsslinger readers could come up with hundreds of others to add to my list. In fact, I encourage you to do so and then review our criticisms in toto. It is likely that we observe here a pattern of advocacy for larger government, greater spending, interference with market forces, flouting of Constitutional law, and plainly liberal approaches to problem solving.

     Does any of this sound particularly conservative to you? Does any of this sound especially different from what the Obama administration is doing?

     So to unequivocally side with Karl Rove’s liberal wing of the GOP is to ignore this history of abuse of the electorate. Conservative voters are not likely to rally behind a candidate handpicked by Karl Rove. As our illustrious non-conservative greater leader once said, “Fool me once…” Or something like that.

     The Tea Party, however, has significant baggage of its own when it comes to the electorate. At its core the Tea Party is fundamentally more ideologically sound than the Rovians. Tea Party candidates tend to espouse traditional conservative values such as smaller government, fiscal responsibility,  and greater privacy.

     This is all well and good. However, the Tea Party also has a national reputation that is only partly undeserved, which is that it is comprised of racists, misogynists, and homophobes who are so zealous in their defense of fiscal frugality that they are willing to destroy both the domestic and global economies for its sake: consider the shutdown of 2013.

     The Tea Party is not helped by someone like Rick Santorum, whose primary campaign revealed an approach to women’s health legislation that is less conservative than positively medieval. Nor is it helped by people like Sarah Palin, who, as evidenced by the recent “Duck Dynasty” hullabaloo, is always ready to leap to the defense of bigots and homophobes for the sake of her brand. Nor is it helped by the hysterics of an individual such as Ted Cruz, who became the poster boy for impotent Congressional idiocy during his so-called “filibuster.”

     Is this the best we can do?

     The true American conservative – someone who favors personal responsibility, smaller government, the protection of Constitutional liberties, and the right of all Americans to pursue happiness (e.g., wealth) regardless of their race, color, gender or sexual preference – is not represented by either of these wings of the modern Republican party. Would you prefer a liberal version of the GOP or a more conservative version sullied by its association with petty small-mindedness and the absence of any possible compromise with political enemies even at the price of total disaster? If you’re like me, you want neither.

     In future commentaries for Newsslinger we will explore what an acceptable modern version of the GOP might look like to someone like me. If this proves to be only so much fantasizing, so be it. The alternative is to stupidly continue with the present course.

     One other thing to consider is this: although many conservatives would probably stay home if another big-government candidate like McCain were to be a presidential nominee in 2016, how many undecided voters would sit home or vote Democrat if the GOP succeeded in nominating someone like Ted Cruz? My feeling is that the former scenario might yield an electoral disaster, but the latter scenario definitely would. Also, another four or eight years of compassionate conservatism would be a Pyrrhic victory at best.

     What are your thoughts, dear readers, about this?

Thomas Davis – NEWSslinger Contributor