Republicans: The Virtue of Realism

 

As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

If the Republican Party were a monarchy, it could announce its intentions and its loyal subjects would fall in line and march as ordered. As king, the Republican Party could use its fiat power to declare that the things it claims to support and believe in — American exceptionalism, limited government, free markets, a strong military, and the Constitution — were sacrosanct; the Party’s subjects would dutifully vote for the Party and elect its candidates.

But that isn’t how political parties work. They may lead a little, but mostly they seek to attract voters who are generally sympathetic to the party’s positions. The party doesn’t tell the people what to want, but rather tries to convince the people that the party is the best vehicle through which the people can move their own agendas forward.

We have two viable political parties. One, the Republican Party, espouses those ideas mentioned above, of limited government and traditional order; the other has a far more expansive view of the role of government, and places little value on tradition. One, the Republican Party, is dominated by a large center-right contingent that is rarely sufficiently ideological to please its more right-leaning members; the other is increasingly dominated by a hard-left radical fringe that more and more alienates its larger center-left membership.

There is no practical alternative to one of those two parties, nor will one arise in the near future. It’s important that conservatives understand this: There is no path to a successful conservative alternative to the Republican Party that does not pass through huge and sustained Democrat victories at the national level.

This is true because we live in a strongly left-leaning media space, one that reaches most Americans on a daily basis through mainstream media and social networks almost all of which are relentlessly and increasingly dishonest and biased. Any attempt to create a conservative alternative to the Republican Party would be met with glee on the left, which would correctly recognize an opportunity to confuse, mislead, and divide the conservative electorate and prevent either conservative party from achieving a viable majority. This should be obvious to anyone who gives it even a moment’s thought.

The parties exist to get their candidates elected. They attempt to do this by attracting members and supporters who agree more with their positions than with the other party’s positions. Since most Americans are neither far-right nor far-left, each party has to try to appeal to a substantial portion of the electorate closer to the middle of the political bell curve. That means that neither party can be “purist,” in the sense of taking a strong ideological stand that is at odds with a large majority of the electorate.

Conservatives have an advantage at the moment in that the Democratic Party is increasingly being directed by hard-left extremists, and it has become difficult for even a complicit mainstream media to hide that. Now is a good time for the Republican Party to reach out to an electorate increasingly disenchanted by the left’s excesses. The greater the electoral advantage the Republican Party has, the more it can safely put forward candidates who represent the Party’s more conservative positions. We should be working to increase participation in the Republican Party by pointing out what the Party represents and how that contrasts with the progressive left’s agenda. This should be a moment to build up the Republican Party, not tear it down.

If the Republican Party has not been conservative enough for my tastes, I think that has more to do with the electorate than with the Party. The Party has to strike a balance between ideology and relevance: it has to get its candidates elected, and that means competing in the large center of America’s political space. Our goal should be to increase the Party’s electoral margins, so that it can put forth conservative candidates who can be confident of broad support, and so that we can afford to choose candidates a little further to the right without fear of losing critical moderate votes.

There is no ultimate victory here. The battle between conservatism and radicalism never ends. America will never be as conservative a nation as I want her to be. The Republican Party will never be as conservative as I am — not in my lifetime, anyway, not while remaining politically viable.

But the Republican Party is the only political platform that can successfully oppose the left. Criticize it sensibly. Encourage it to embrace the best of the Trump experience and to welcome those who saw in him something missing in American politics. Push the party to live up to its own stated vision. But don’t abandon it or run it into the ground. We are seeing right now what the alternative looks like.

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  1. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser
    @Buckpasser

    We will be in this vicious cycle always.  democrats move more and more left because they’re crazy and eventually go too far and are voted out.  Then republicans promise to do things or undo things and then don’t.  Then they get voted out again.  republicans don’t do anything because they are politicians.  Won’t happen, but we need to get back to “normal” people getting elected to office, do things, and then go back to their real jobs.  NO PENSIONS, no professional politicians.  Otherwise the cycle continues.

    • #31
  2. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):
    The second option would be for a self-funding candidate like Michael Bloomberg to run, just as Ross Perot did in 1992 and 1996.  

    Heh. Thanks for reminding me of that train-wreck. Spent an estimated $500 million and won . . . American Samoa.

     

    • #32
  3. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I think that this was an excellent post.

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, Gary, as far as I’m concerned you have subtracted yourself from the conversation. By actually supporting the Democratic candidate — the reprehensible President* Brandon — you exhibited the worst of the kind of abandon-the-party behavior I’m criticizing here. I feel about the strident anti-Trumpers about what I feel about the strident anti-Republican folk: you are unwittingly working against the cause of conservatism.

    • #33
  4. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: We should be working to increase participation in the Republican Party by pointing out what the Party represents and how that contrasts with the progressive left’s agenda. This should be a moment to build up the Republican Party, not tear it down.

    I agree with this, but the people the Republicans will be able to attract are going to be moderates (at the very best), not conservatives.

    How do you know? Reagan Democrats were a genuine force. Those same people could support a conservative again.

    Sure. But Reagan was sui generis. The Democrat voters the Republicans would try to attract are Democrats for a reason. Unless the Democrats get really crazy, it’s not likely they’ll support a Ron DeSantis.

    Trump is also sui generis.  

    • #34
  5. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    • #35
  6. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Ekosj (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: We should be working to increase participation in the Republican Party by pointing out what the Party represents and how that contrasts with the progressive left’s agenda. This should be a moment to build up the Republican Party, not tear it down.

    I agree with this, but the people the Republicans will be able to attract are going to be moderates (at the very best), not conservatives.

    How do you know? Reagan Democrats were a genuine force. Those same people could support a conservative again.

    Sure. But Reagan was sui generis. The Democrat voters the Republicans would try to attract are Democrats for a reason. Unless the Democrats get really crazy, it’s not likely they’ll support a Ron DeSantis.

    I don’t think we should make a great effort to attract Democrats. We should focus on appealing to Republicans and independents who don’t like the direction in which our nation is heading. There are more self-identified independents than there are either Republicans or Democrats.

    • #36
  7. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I think that this was an excellent post.

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, Gary, as far as I’m concerned you have subtracted yourself from the conversation. By actually supporting the Democratic candidate — the reprehensible President* Brandon — you exhibited the worst of the kind of abandon-the-party behavior I’m criticizing here. I feel about the strident anti-Trumpers about what I feel about the strident anti-Republican folk: you are unwittingly working against the cause of conservatism.

    I appreciate that.  I think that all of us must consider the consequences of our actions.  https://ricochet.com/1038929/apologies-owed-by-a-biden-and-b-trump-voters/

    • #37
  8. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Henry Racette: If the Republican Party has not been conservative enough for my tastes, I think that has more to do with the electorate than with the Party. The Party has to strike a balance between ideology and relevance: it has to get its candidates elected, and that means competing in the large center of America’s political space. Our goal should be to increase the Party’s electoral margins, so that it can put forth conservative candidates who can be confident of broad support, and so that we can afford to choose candidates a little further to the right without fear of losing critical moderate votes.

    Great points. I have my own disagreements with the party but I am in agreement with much of what you wrote. I think there would be a case for abandoning the party if they governed say… Ricochet, but you have to get people elected in various capacities across a very diverse country. 

    • #38
  9. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I think that this was an excellent post.

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, Gary, as far as I’m concerned you have subtracted yourself from the conversation. By actually supporting the Democratic candidate — the reprehensible President* Brandon — you exhibited the worst of the kind of abandon-the-party behavior I’m criticizing here. I feel about the strident anti-Trumpers about what I feel about the strident anti-Republican folk: you are unwittingly working against the cause of conservatism.

    I appreciate that. I think that all of us must consider the consequences of our actions. https://ricochet.com/1038929/apologies-owed-by-a-biden-and-b-trump-voters/

    I really don’t want to engage you on this, Gary. I thought your post was a foolish continuation of months of bad political judgment, and that you should stop digging.

    • #39
  10. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    We tend to do better at the local and state level than we do at the national level.

    I suppose it depends on the locality. My state may be purple, but my city is blue. And getting bluer.

    That’s true everywhere. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville are blue. Everywhere else is red (Chattanooga is purple).

    I don’t know a lot about TN– isn’t Knox County’s mayor a libertarian Republican (Kane from WWF I believe) wouldn’t Knoxvillle area be a bit purple? That was my understanding.

    • #40
  11. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    We tend to do better at the local and state level than we do at the national level.

    I suppose it depends on the locality. My state may be purple, but my city is blue. And getting bluer.

    That’s true everywhere. Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville are blue. Everywhere else is red (Chattanooga is purple).

    I don’t know a lot about TN– isn’t Knox County’s mayor a libertarian Republican (Kane from WWF I believe) wouldn’t Knoxvillle area be a bit purple? That was my understanding.

    Knoxville’s blue.  Knox county’s red.  I don’t know much about Kane, but he seems to be doing a pretty good job.

    • #41
  12. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Buckpasser (View Comment):
    democrats move more and more left because they’re crazy and eventually go too far and are voted out.  Then republicans promise to do things or undo things and then don’t.

    True. On every issue that matters, Republicans are not so much an alternative to the Democrats as a speed bump.

    It’s not by accident that nothing ng Democrats pass is ever repealed. It’s not by accident that borders are wide open, Obamacare is still in effect, Black Rock is vacuuming up houses,  and Federal spending never goes down. If Republicans really wanted to change any of that, they could. Their behavior under Trump shows they really don’t.

    • #42
  13. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I think that this was an excellent post.

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, Gary, as far as I’m concerned you have subtracted yourself from the conversation. By actually supporting the Democratic candidate — the reprehensible President* Brandon — you exhibited the worst of the kind of abandon-the-party behavior I’m criticizing here. I feel about the strident anti-Trumpers about what I feel about the strident anti-Republican folk: you are unwittingly working against the cause of conservatism.

    I appreciate that. I think that all of us must consider the consequences of our actions. https://ricochet.com/1038929/apologies-owed-by-a-biden-and-b-trump-voters/

    Gotta give you some props for the blatant self-promotion. I’m too humble for that sort of thing.

    • #43
  14. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    LOL. It turns out the “principled, country over party, conservatives” at the NAMB-Lincoln Project were behind the tiki torch campaign stunt this morning.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davidmackau/status/1454195114256093191

    Doesn’t quite jive with the McAuliffe campaign staffers identified in the photos who subsequently locked or deleted their social media accounts.

    • #44
  15. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    LOL. It turns out the “principled, country over party, conservatives” at the NAMB-Lincoln Project were behind the tiki torch campaign stunt this morning.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davidmackau/status/1454195114256093191

    Did twitter already deep-six it?  I get a “page doesn’t exist” message when I click on the link.

    • #45
  16. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Henry Racette: As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

    A strawman is a weak opening, Henry.

    • #46
  17. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

     

    Did twitter already deep-six it? I get a “page doesn’t exist” message when I click on the link.

    It works for me. Here’s the statement.

    • #47
  18. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

    A strawman is a weak opening, Henry.

    I assume by that that you believe what I described is inaccurate. You’re mistaken. I have had precisely those arguments thrown at me in the last few days.

    • #48
  19. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

    A strawman is a weak opening, Henry.

    I assume by that that you believe what I described is inaccurate. You’re mistaken. I have had precisely those arguments thrown at me in the last few days.

    I’ll vouch for it not being quite a straw man, since I would agree the Republican Party is from the perspective of advancing policies I favor proven useless, has accomplished nothing (and I would argue has helped the Democrats advance progressivism). I would not tell others to abandon the party, although I honestly feel the party has abandoned me. And if the party at least fought for some of the policies I support I could be lured back. 

    • #49
  20. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Here’s the statement.

    Oh my lord. I’m almost impressed by the trolling here. The only problem is that it’s too obvious. You can tell these words were assembled without the use of any conscious principles as a stabilizing mortar.

    • #50
  21. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Jim Chase (View Comment):
    Love him or hate him, the last Republican figure who had any success with that was Newt and his “Contract with America” in the mid-’90s.

    Yep. Which is why I always supported him in his various attempts at the GOP nomination.

    • #51
  22. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Which is worse here? Defending the Republican Party or defending National Review?

    I think the latter is easier, which is why I do it.

    My ESP tells me that I should say it’s not the same thing.

    • #52
  23. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    I never trust the Republicans to do what’s right.

    I always trust the Democrats to do what’s wrong.

    Vote twice in every election year: once in the primary to clean up the Republicans, and once in the general to stop the Democrats.

    • #53
  24. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    I never trust the Republicans to do what’s right.

    I always trust the Democrats to do what’s wrong.

    Vote twice in every election year: once in the primary to clean up the Republicans, and once in the general to stop the Democrats.

    I do that.  It hasn’t worked lately.

    • #54
  25. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    I never trust the Republicans to do what’s right.

    I always trust the Democrats to do what’s wrong.

    Vote twice in every election year: once in the primary to clean up the Republicans, and once in the general to stop the Democrats.

    I do that. It hasn’t worked lately.

    Sometimes, neither does eating more fiber. Still best to try when we need it.

    • #55
  26. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

    47th time’s a charm!

    Yes, I don’t expect this one to go over very well. It’s easier to throw bombs than to invest time and energy in constructive efforts. I think we saw that writ large throughout 2020, as our cities burned.

    Well that violates the CoC in assuming bad faith. But you are a Contributor so that is ok.

    • #56
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    I think that this was an excellent post.

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, Gary, as far as I’m concerned you have subtracted yourself from the conversation. By actually supporting the Democratic candidate — the reprehensible President* Brandon — you exhibited the worst of the kind of abandon-the-party behavior I’m criticizing here. I feel about the strident anti-Trumpers about what I feel about the strident anti-Republican folk: you are unwittingly working against the cause of conservatism.

    That I can agree with.

     

    • #57
  28. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: As I sat down to type my nth comment defending the Republican Party against claims that it is useless, has accomplished nothing, and needs to be abandoned, I decided to write a post about it instead.

    A strawman is a weak opening, Henry.

    I assume by that that you believe what I described is inaccurate. You’re mistaken. I have had precisely those arguments thrown at me in the last few days.

    LOL

    They are useless. You could come up with not one victory in 20 years.

    Republicans are losers. You have failed in Pollyanna post after post to prove anything different.  

     

    • #58
  29. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    HR: Yes, I don’t expect this one to go over very well. It’s easier to throw bombs than to invest time and energy in constructive efforts. I think we saw that writ large throughout 2020, as our cities burned.

    Well that violates the CoC in assuming bad faith. But you are a Contributor so that is ok.

    I think this is the first time I’ve been accused of having Contributor privilege.

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    You have failed in Pollyanna post after post to prove anything different.  

    I’m trying to persuade, Bryan. I don’t think either of us knows whether I’ve been successful and, if so, how successful. But I’m going to continue trying.

    And I’m going to exploit every ounce of my mighty Contributor privilege in the process.

    • #59
  30. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    HR: Yes, I don’t expect this one to go over very well. It’s easier to throw bombs than to invest time and energy in constructive efforts. I think we saw that writ large throughout 2020, as our cities burned.

    Well that violates the CoC in assuming bad faith. But you are a Contributor so that is ok.

    I think this is the first time I’ve been accused of having Contributor privilege.

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    You have failed in Pollyanna post after post to prove anything different.

    I’m trying to persuade, Bryan. I don’t think either of us knows whether I’ve been successful and, if so, how successful. But I’m going to continue trying.

    And I’m going to exploit every ounce of my mighty Contributor privilege in the process.

    Power is power.  We have long seen the CoC does not apply the same. See Mona.

    You have proved nothing. Your attempt at persuading has always been to tell me to shut up, now hasn’t it? You don’t want me to be negative and have clearly told me to stuff it.

    I have never told you to shut up.

    • #60
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