The GOP – Who Owes Who?
The presidential election is a mess. Often, the election rhetoric is full of charges of false conservatism and allegations that non-Trump supporters are Hillary supporters. At times, it must rely on fatally flawed logic. Trump’s supporters, lacking substantive (and consistent) merits to praise, must rely on assumption, distraction, and name-calling. Alternating between anger, fear, and a complete lack of self-preservation, the GOP has backed Trump.
Somewhere, there may be a political ledger with the balances of each camp, I think a more intriguing investigation is who owes who support, or their votes. The want of loyalty by Trump supporters for their man grows tedious – but why should that be? They would claim conservatives owe our votes to the Republican candidate. Critical thought and principles, need not attach to the equation.
What has happened to the simple action of heading to the ballot box, and pulling the lever for the Republican? When did this cease to be a viable reaction for voters? Was Trump in the wrong place at the wrong time? Was there actually a tipping point – a spot where voters dug their heels in, and said, “No – you move”?
We should reflect over the past ten years to gain perspective leading up to this moment. We could go further back, and use Bob Dole’s candidacy as a starting point, but I’ll start with John Boehner. Boehner, seeing his support erode in the House, sought to punish detractors. He removed “non-loyal” conservatives from House Committees where they could force fiscal responsibility. Representatives Tim Huelskamp, Justin Amash, and David Schweikert lost their committee positions. Conservatives raged, and said the GOP would pay.
GOP stalwarts like John McCain and Mitch McConnell often fought with conservatives. McCain called Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, “Wacko birds”. Mitch McConnell ran against a Tea Party candidate, and Trump donated to McConnell. And again, conservatives railed, and said the GOP would pay.
Donald Trump used friends in media, like the National Enquirer, to smear primary opponents. Unfounded rumors, ties to assassination, and marital infidelities were all used to tarnish opponents’ reputations. Those actions, echoed by his supporters, will only hinder promising candidates in future elections. Given an opportunity to walk back those claims, Trump refused, and said the Enquirer, “does have credibility“. And conservatives, knowing what kind of effect this would have in the future with those candidates targeted, knew an apology was due.
The GOP’s past actions, along with their steadfast support of Trump, has irritated conservatives. The final straw was Trump’s claim that, he doesn’t need conservative votes. And it was then, the conservatives finally realized they had a belief in common with Trump. And they had something that they would grant him.
Now, there is a history of the GOP taking conservatives for granted, and the GOP has spent as much political capital as they dare. Spending most, if not all of it, on big government types and otherwise non viable candidates. This election was finally where conservatives said, “No more”. Having spent, borrowed, begged, and promised – the GOP finds its base turning them away.
The idiom goes, “It’s easy to find a stick to beat a dog”, and the GOP and their recent leftward wandering candidates have no problem with sticks. But, they neglected to notice that the dog they beat isn’t chained – and it can simply walk away. And conservatives have.
An exodus from the GOP has boosted libertarian numbers, as conservatives now find more common ground with them. The conservatives perhaps see an ability to work together and build something with libertarians, where the GOP only needs their conservatives every four years. This leper-treatment by the GOP has no blame to lie at any place other than at their own feet.
For its taking, and never giving, its continual leftward march, and for its rejection of principles and critical thought. It is becoming clear that the GOP does not think it needs its conservatives, and having waged war against them, they may find it exceedingly hard to recover them. The GOP owes much to its conservatives -but to now demand their votes while Donald Trump as the titular head of the party? It is a loan too far. And conservatives should consider the debts already owed to them as unrecoverable.