In a recent post the PoliticalPaleHorse brings up some of the interesting dynamics of the Republican and Conservative coalition.
PPH cites George Will’s latest column on the Presidential contenders and their various departures from conservative orthodoxy. While I believe that the be-speckled and bow-tied Will is one of the finest center-right columnists in the country, he misses the systemic problem with the Republican coalition. Will believes that to remain in power, that Republicans, and in his mind by extension Conservatives, must accept a “flawed” candidate.
My response is simple, what good is the power and prestige of the White House if the man (or woman) in it doesn’t share the same principles as the men and women who elected him to that office?
The Republican Party lost in the last election because since 1994 national and state Republicans have presented little more than the “Lite” version of Democrat policies.
Of late, the Republican message as been simple, and sickening:
We’ll build government, but not as much as them.
We’ll fund your entitlement, but not as much as them.
Trust us, we wont take as many of your guns, as much of your money or restrict your freedom quite as much as the Democrats.
This same Democrat-Lite dementia took hold of Colorado Republicans long ago. The 2004 election showed the Colorado Republicans slipping back into the sea with the losses of the State House, State Senate and the U.S. Senate seat.
At issue is the makeup of the Conservative coalition and the degree that Republicans have – or haven’t - respected this coalition.
The original conservative coalition of the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s was the joining of two separate groups, the traditionalists and the libertarians. [It should be noted that these labels are used within the confines of mainstream political thought, and don’t refer to the literal Libertarians] The traditionalists found voice in thinkers like Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr., while the libertarian elements of the coalitions fell under that banner of Friedrich Hayeck and Whittaker Chambers. All of these great minds wrote for Buckley’s National Review at one time or another.
These two separate ideals were brought together under Hayeck’s fusionism. Essentially, fusionism is the use of libertarian means to reach traditional goals. This understanding of fusionism was birthed during the Goldwater years and brought to maturity under Reagan. I submit to you that true conservatism is this fusion of libertarian and traditional philosophies. The great California State Senator Bill Richardson, founder of Gun Owners of America, once said, “we’re all traditionalists.”
The problem with Colorado’s Republican coalition, is that it has been controlled by moderate-to-liberal Rockefeller style Republicans who have abandoned both the traditionalists and the libertarians.
The Main Stream Media’s favorite catch word is that the far-right is only focused on God, Guns, Taxes and Gays and the fiscal-conservatives are the true moderates. This argument is flawed because the true divide lies between the fusionists – the libertarians and the traditionalists united – and the liberal, populist, "Democrat-Lite" elements of the Party. Make no mistake about it, when the MSM mentions “fiscal-conservative” they’re not refereeing to small-government, free market principles, they’re referring to liberal Republicans.
The question, ultimately, comes down to this: are you a Republican or a Democrat-Lite?
A healthy debate between elements of the fusionist movement will only continue to strengthen the conservative movement.
The few Republican electoral victories of the 2006 election came to those candidates and causes that exemplify true conservatism; Representatives like Marilyn Musgrave and Doug Lamborn, or State Senators like
What Will misses, and PPH recognizes is simple. Electoral victories for Republicans will come from a full return to the fusion of traditional and libertarian elements of the Conservative Coalition.
The McCains, the Romney’s, the Guliani’s of the world can squabble over control of what is left of the Republican Party. Until true conservative leadership returns to both the national and state level Republican parties, electoral victories for Republicans will be few and far between.
(If Josh Lyman were conservative… considers himself to be one of the true-believers in the fusionist philosophy – a real traditionalist with strong libertarian tendencies. When not battling with liberal Republicans, he enjoys drinking scotch and reading National Review's The Corner.)