As early as mid summer, I promised myself not to get worked up about the current state of politics. One candidate seemed frightful, and the other dreadfully dull. Neither vice presidential candidate did much for me, either, though a lot of friends were rather excited about the one from Wisconsin. I like Wisconsin. Quite a bit. Whenever I even get near to the border, I drive over to supply myself with cheese curds and beer.
But, this guy seemed pretty weak to me. He had some good thoughts, but they seemed rather timid.
Going into the election, I was pretty convinced that the choice was between Tweedleevil and Tweedledumb.
Still, it would be nearly impossible for me not to have voted. So, I watched and muttered and watched some more and muttered some more, exploded once or twice online, and then went back to watching and muttering. Then, I showed up first in line for my ward, talked with a really interesting farmer for ten minutes, signed the requisite forms, and voted.
I feel much better now, though I’m far from happy with the results of the election. Frankly, though, I’m sure I’d be that much happier had Tweedledumb won. And, I’m fairly certain it would not have been good for liberty, dignity, or anything else that really matters.
Most happily, Ted Cruz will soon be seated in the Senate, and Justin Amash will be returning to the House. These two will lend their immense talents to Rand Paul. For these three, I am thankful. I will pray for them and support them in every way possible, for I believe them not only the three finest individuals in national politics, but I fervently hope they are a foreshadowing of the future. From everything I’ve seen and read, these three speak their minds, and they do so from a standpoint of honest conviction.
A few days ago, I had the good fortune to speak at a local Republican women luncheon. Not surprisingly, I had a wonderful time. In preparation for my talk, I pulled out three things as reminders of better days and better leaders: an “Ike” lapel pin, a Goldwater elephant pin, and the ticket stub from Ronald Reagan’s May 17, 1981, speech at the University of Notre Dame.
As I prepared for this talk, I decided to speak about things that matter–that is, things that matter yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In other words, I tried to convince my audience (and myself) that we decide on a Tuesday will probably not change the world on a Wednesday.
Instead, it struck me forcefully again (as it has many times in my life) that many of the things of this world are rather fleeting.
While I’m certainly not willing to give up the things of this world to the enemies of all that is humane and good, I’m also in a mood to recognize that we might very well have the opportunity to begin rebuilding the Republican party in the way Goldwater did in the early 1960s, preparing the way for Reagan in the 1980s.
Everything good takes time.
The Republican party since 1989 has proven itself little more than a “me too-ism” party. Every one, left and right, wants the charisma of Reagan, but no one really understands him or why he succeeded.
He succeeded because his ideas and convictions matched his charisma, making him even more attractive.
After years of Republican me too-ism, we finally have three men in the Republican party willing to stand as men, willing to oppose what’s wrong in the world, and willing to do so from the standpoint of conviction and honesty.
I must also admit, I find the notion of supporting a third party somewhat appealing. But, as I think every one is willing to agree, the two major parties have a lock on the American political structure. For those of us who read and love Winston Elliott’s TIC, we will find our only hope of any political success in the Republican party.
The Democrats are now fully the party of war, surveillance, and conformism. With only a few exceptions, the Republicans are just as bad.
In the late 1950s, a movement originating at the University of Notre Dame began to draft Barry Goldwater as a presidential candidate. That movement–a movement of a number of academics willing to lend their talents to Goldwater–ultimately led to the Arizonan’s victory in the 1964 Republican primaries. He called them constantly and relied upon them for a clarification of ideas as well as speeches.
In his many letters to Russell Kirk, the politician reminded the younger man again and again not to attack Democrats merely, but to support the conservatives. That is, Goldwater believed the conservatives could win only if they presented their ideas in an appealing manner, a manner that spoke of truth rather than opportunism. No victory could ever be expected by merely reacting to the opposition.
The actual election results of that November were a disaster for any American supporting individual liberties, but a small republic of letters had already formed, a movement had taken shape, and those same lovers of Goldwater saw in Reagan, as early as the mid 1960s, a proper successor to the conservative movement.
Over the entire history of the party, the Republicans have far more to be proud of than do the Democrats. From their beginnings, the Democrats have been the party of imperialism, racism, and abuse of the presidency. After all, this is the party that resegregated the military, deprived loyal Japanese-American citizens of their property and rights, and nuked two civilian cities in the second world war.
The Republicans began as a party desiring the prevention of slavery in the territories, and they have more consistently uphold civil liberties and the rights of the innocent than have the Democrats. The Republicans also helped end the Cold War.
The party desperately, though, needs to find its voice again, and that voice should not be found in the supporters of big military expansion, the national security state, massive corporations, or Washington think tanks.
The real voices of the will come from Texas, Kentucky, and western Michigan. If we aid them, they will bellow.
Books mentioned in this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.