Republicanism isn’t conservatism and hasn’t been for a long time

Republican Conservatives

What is conservatism? If you ask 10 self-proclaimed conservatives, you’ll get 10 definitions. Some of them will be similar. Most will be diverse from one another and that’s just at the surface. It gets worse once we start defining fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, or any of the other labels associated with groups of issues.

The way that the majority of Republican politicians contribute to conservatism through their actions should not be how we define the term. The GOP has co-opted the word during campaign speeches and in defense of some of their activities, but it’s been done in a way that moves the target. Unfortunately, most Republican voters can now be classified into one or more of four categories:

  1. Establishment Backers: These are the party faithful who move their perspectives to align with the GOP of the moment. They define the “conservatism du jour” based upon the needs to perpetuate and increase their power.
  2. The Misled: At some point, a good chunk of Republicans find themselves in this group for a time. We hear a politician who inspires us with visions of Reagan, Coolidge, and Lincoln. Then, we see them in action and they’re more like Boehner, Dole, and McConnell.
  3. The Misguided: To some extent, nearly all true conservative finds themselves in the realm of the misguided. For example, they know that we need to cut spending, but they’re willing to support or at least accept compromise to spend a little more this time so we can fight harder next time. Unfortunately, next time always seems to be the same.
  4. Populists: This is a broad category. It doesn’t just encompass what we’ve seen driving the Donald Trump candidacy. It’s hard to tell how long this category has been as powerful as it currently is since it’s one that can hide in the shadows of a party without being seen until the right candidate rears his or her ugly head. One thing is certain: it’s a result of the leftward lurch that the country has been experiencing since the 60s.

I’ve read many headlines saying something to the effect of “Trump is the symptom, not the disease.” Don’t Google them; all of the ones that I’ve read have been bogus liberal perspectives about how the Republican party has always been evil and racist and that Trump is only acting as a vehicle to let out the beast. The sentiment that Trump’s nomination is the result of an ongoing challenge facing the Republican party is correct, though not because Republicans are evil. The GOP has pushed our perspectives of what conservatism is. This is the disease. Many Americans have no idea what it means to be conservative anymore.

It isn’t just the liberals who are making this happen. Even “conservative” sites like Breitbart and Drudge have pushed the liberal concepts aligned with big government as ideas that the Republicans can support. They rail on the moderate Establishment types like Paul Ryan, but they also go after true conservatives in an effort to demonize them for the sake of their populist agenda. As was revealed on The Hill, Breitbart was active in derailing Ted Cruz’s truly conservative Presidential bid.

Bannon, who was hired this week as the new Chief Executive Officer for the Donald Trump campaign, allegedly urged his reporters to go after Cruz several times during the campaign.

At one moment leading up to the Iowa Caucuses, Bannon “was told that a radio advertisement would be landing in Iowa aimed at hurting Cruz with evangelical voters.”

“Bannon was excited by the story,” writes Jonathan Swan for The Hill. He believed it could “spell the end of Cruz’s candidacy. He told his reporters to chase the story hard, though their efforts turned up nothing new.”

This isn’t new, but it’s time to make it stop. To do this, we have to make three choices

To redefine the term or embrace a different one

Let’s start with the most difficult of the questions and work our way down. Since we embarked on the journey of building a new conservative party, several people have reached out to me and brought up the problem that we’re discussing here. Is “conservatism” really the right banner to fly at this point? Has the term been so abused and misused by the GOP that it can no longer be salvaged?

At this point, I’m not sure. I ask the readers to chime in. If we’re to use a different term to describe the values that we want to defend and the policies we want to promote, what term would that be? If we’re going to stick with conservatism, one thing must happen: we must decisively rip the term away from the Republican party through a full-blown campaign. That’s not to say that there are no Republican politicians who are conservatives, but there’s a reason that the Freedom Caucus is such a small block of the House. There’s a reason that there are only six Senators with a Liberty Score over 80% on Conservative Review. We would need to boldly and loudly highlight just how liberal the Republican Party has become. We must do so with limited compromise; no more excuses about how beneficial Big Sugar subsidies are or why it’s okay to approve outrageous budgets when we don’t have the money to spend.

Again, I’m not sure how to proceed on this one. It’s not something that should be decided by any one person. If you believe we need to retake conservatism, please explain why in the comment section below. If you believe that we need to embrace a new term to help define us, then please comment with ideas of what would replace the word “conservatism.”

To rebuild the GOP or start anew

This choice is a little easier to make. The Tea Party was able to make some great gains within the GOP, but many of those gains are being erased right before our eyes. A combination of Establishment power-retention and Trump’s populist surge has changed the momentum. Conservatives are losing primaries from top to bottom.

An argument can be made that we can double down on our efforts this time around and affect real change, but we’ve heard that one already. How did Albert Einstein define insanity?

Another argument can be made that there are already third parties available that espouse the proper conservative perspectives. In the modern digital age, it will be easier to reach a tipping point through a new party than by trying to revive the efforts of other parties that haven’t been successful for decades. We’re already seeing a groundswell of online support and it’s getting more impressive by the hour.

It’s time to have a party that can actually win and that stays true to the Constitution tenets and American values that made this country exceptional. It’s time for a new party. If you haven’t joined the movement, do so now by filling out the form below.

To work from the top down or the bottom up

This is the easiest of the three choices to make. We cannot go to politicians and ask them to lead this movement. We need to build this from the bottom up through the grassroots and by empowering party members with real skin in the game. That’s not to say we won’t support current politicians. We simply need to build strength at the foundation. Then, we can select current politicians or promote new ones who will be able to bring our values to the halls of government on our behalf.

Now is a time of choosing. For too long we have sat angrily, but passively, as the Democrats and Republicans push their agendas further and further to the left. We’re at the boiling point. It’s time to make it a tipping point that will translate into true action.

If you want to receive updates about the new conservative party of if you have questions, email me – – or fill out the form below.

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The two-party system has handicapped this nation. Other third parties have failed to break through the barriers. Our aggressive strategy for growth combined with adherence to Constitutional principles will allow us to achieve the velocity necessary to break the system. Will you help us bring America back from the edge of the precipice?
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JD Rucker

JD Rucker is Editor of this site as well as Soshable, a Federalist Christian Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and co-founder of the Federalist Party. Find him on Twitter or Facebook.

  1. JD… in answer to some of your questions.

    1) I think we need to stick with conservatism, true conservatism, as defined by Russel Kirk (, and apply those principles to our political philosophy. We also need to express our constitutional conservatism as the republican view of the constitution. (see Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People by Randy E. Barnett). We need to have a message that it isnt about power for us conservatives, but for the good of the country that we are engaging on this journey. We need to show how those conservative principles are the best path for all.
    2) I think we need to start anew. The GOP is far to tainted to recover. They have been spineless for the most part and, with the exception of a few, have steadily moved to the left through willful action or blatant inaction. If we do it right, conservatives from other parties, including the Democrats, GOP, will come to us rather than the other way around. They need to understand and articulate what conservatism is. We need to set the proper tone and format for discussing various points of view. And finally, we need to get away from party loyalty and focus on loyalty to principles.
    3) We need to start from the bottom. Starting from the bottom is a less insurmountable task and the results can be seen at the grass roots quicker. In addition, it is from the bottom that we can better call for an Article V convention of states if that is the party’s desire. (something I would encourage)

  2. We have to get over the assumption that the only way to change things is through elections.
    While it’s true that a great principled leader would definitely move us in the right direction a lot sooner, we need to start playing the long term game. Lord knows that long term vision by progressives has turned this country from free individuals into dependency tribes.

    Individual introspection is needed along with a healthy dose of personal responsibility. Strong families and seeking answers through prayer rather than some sugar daddy in DC.

    As far as coming up with a proper name for a movement or party, the term Conservative has been so bastardized by the spin misters that it can no longer can be used to describe those of us that still put the country ahead of power.

    Somehow the word “Constitution” has to be in our daily lexicon and then a detailed explanation of what it means. Sadly, our educational institutions have been taken over by Progressive/Marxist, but if we participate more in our children’s education, we can make a difference.

    Finally, we need to get more involved in our local government as well educate ourselves on our American history prior to 1860. By doing this, we will have a good foundation on what being an American means and our responsibilities as Americans.

  3. One might consider the need for a consistent application of whatever term is used. There is nothing wrong with “conservative” but too often it is confused between what I would call constitutional conservatives and religious conservatives. The inconsistency arrives with the religious application to some of the social issues. While I personally find the gay agenda disgusting and abhorrent, I don’t know where to find the constitutional basis for some of the positions held by the religious right with reference to that agenda. To clarify, a Conservative party will need to uphold adhererence to the constitution as a core principle, even when the result is dismaying to some of those who would also apply core values from a “higher authority”. There will be times when those two authorities will be in conflict, and a true Conservative party will need to be consistent in resolving that conflict. Will this be a constitution driven party or a religion driven party?

  4. I loved how Mark Levin said the other night that we believe in “Americanism” not populism. Maybe we could be the American party.

  5. The new term should be “constitutionalism” and the new party should be named The Liberty Party. Don’t worry about the “religious conservatives”….. the Lord will take care of us. Just sayin’.

  6. The term conservative has been too misused. On July 4th I reread our Declaration of Independence. I realized in their enumeration of grievances, we have many very similar grievances today. Perhaps we should begin with a declaration similar and enumerate the grievances using the Declaration as our guide and template. Borrowing from the name of the Sons of Liberty as Marc above said isn’t a bad idea. I would caution against what Phil above implies on the “higher authority” matter. Whether he likes it or not our foundation is Judeo-Christian and our Constitution is meant for a moral society. (I’m not implying people who don’t attend church can’t be moral) Redefining marriage from the historic perspective is merely leftist manipulation. Even a state like California has a chance since the majority there clearly did not want gay marriage. Weren’t we older folks taught the family is the basic unit everything else in a sound society is built on? That unit was always understood to be a genital correct man, woman and children.

    We’re gonna need great Constitutional lawyers. I would also market it to young people as anti-establishment since that is what it is and that seems to appeal to the young mind. Being against your professor who is establishment and stifles your freedom of speech could be appealing. We need to turn the tide against those old hippies who never grew up. We also need to educate Catholic and Protestant communities in what true charity is. It is not giving everything away for free to anyone and everyone who comes along and merely asks for it.

  7. What do you think about “classical liberal” as a descriptor for the movement you are describing? The term “liberal” has gone through enough iterations that it make now be possible to reclaim the word’s actual meaning. Also, wouldn’t it be funny to think how many low information Democrats might accidentally vote for a “classical liberal” party?

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