The number of self-described conservatives is large, right? Many surveys have come out indicating that this is so. So why is the Republican Party now currently stuck with Cheeto Jesus as the nominee right now? Why are conservatives defeated in election after election? Why are liberal politicians elected to office time and again?
These were the questions I pondered as news broke that Tim Huelskamp had been defeated a couple of weeks ago. I listen to podcasts of conservative thinkers and talkers and I search for information from conservative websites. Everywhere I look the news is grim, but there is generally some undertone of positive news.
Still I find myself baffled by the outcomes of conservatives being defeated on a regular basis in elections, policies, and culture. What was to blame for our lack of success? Do we lack vigor or determination to win? No, because the champions of conservatism continue to fight.
Why do Conservatives fail to win elections? Two possibilities exist:
- Conservatives fail on ideas and policy. The idea that our policies or ideas are weak would seem to be wrong because in primaries all the Republican candidates make conservative sounds. During the general election even Democrats put forward conservative sounds. That would mean that conservative policies resonate with people and are not failures.
- Our candidates are failures. Despite having some great candidates, most of them wind up not winning either at the nomination or the general election. Yet, all the candidates cannot have the same failing of being incredibly unelectable. The conservatives found their home in the Republican Party after all.
So what is the problem that holds back conservatism? If it is not our candidates and not our policies, what is it then?
Office holders who campaign on conservative talking points and fail to live up to their promises hold some answers: Once elected, officials begin to distance themselves from their campaign. Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare. What could be more conservative than to roll back government intrusion? What happened though? Obamacare remains the law of the land. Those Representatives who promised repeal remain there as well.
Incumbents are difficult to remove from office, though not impossible. Conservatives compromise enough of the Republican base to get rid of these politicians. So why are they still around? When primaries happen where are the vast majorities of conservatives we hear about? If the conservatives are the ones who show up during the primaries why do they not vote for those who are more conservative? The answer I’m afraid lies in us as conservatives.
Conservatives have no excuse for not knowing if a candidate is indeed a conservative, there are plenty of places to get ratings. Some identifying as conservatives are only wolves in sheep’s clothing. All the “conservatives” supporting the current nominee of the Republican Party come to mind.
Another problem that confronts us is that there are many who that fail to understand why conservative positions on issues are taken. We should be able to understand why conservatives oppose abortion, gay marriage, and women in combat. Conservatives should also be able to clearly argue the reasoning behind these arguments. If we cannot argue why conservatives take these positions then we will never have our resurgence.
Everyone will not agree on all the issues, but we should all know why the conservatives take such positions. I know that the education system does not teach logic and clear argumentation anymore, but that is no longer an excuse for conservatives.
Conservatives have a great number of places to get articles on current events and news stories. The conservative take on daily events is easily available; what is lacking is a failure to understand a deeper question behind these positions. I think that we should look to the great writers and thinkers for a deeper understanding and foundation for these beliefs.
When we become able to argue that the founding documents were more than just words on paper – but great ideas which were brilliant – or why only a moral society is capable of enduring, then we will truly be in the majority.