To Save the GOP: Vote for Democrats
Modern Republicans aren’t conservatives. They’re anti-liberals.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. — Ancient Sanskrit proverb.
In October of 2016, #NeverTrump conservatives were in disbelief. Their movement had collapsed after Donald Trump inexplicably became the Republican Party’s nominee for President. The new leader of the “conservative” movement was making the worst sort of news then, mired in sex abuse scandals and constantly upping his outlandish antics at every rally. His speeches lacked specifics, yet supporters insisted that he tells it like it is. He had taken to reading the lyrics of an Al Wilson song at various campaign stops by then, always under the auspices of criminal illegal aliens that he insisted were putting American communities in grave danger.
In retrospect, Trump’s reading of The Snake was less about immigrants, and more about himself and his infiltration of the GOP:
Republicans knew that Donald Trump was a snake — before they took him in.
Trumpism is not Conservatism.
What has become clear since Trump won the election is that Republicans have lost their way. Conservatism as it existed a mere decade ago is dead. What has replaced it is a toxic form of partisan populism that is almost completely bereft of political policy of any kind. It dismisses facts as fake news, and foments a deep skepticism of core institutions that have long been standards of American greatness. The goal of today’s right isn’t to condone free market ideologies or create conditions that allow capitalism to flourish. Those ideals of conservatism have no place in today’s GOP. The only tenet of the right at this point seems to be a vitriolic disdain for the left.
Modern Republicanism is a hollowed out shell of its former self. Their logic: If the left is uncomfortable, then the right must be winning.
Nothing embodies the decline of conservatism more than the policies and behaviors of Donald Trump, his administration, a Republican-controlled Congress that is increasingly subservient to his Presidency, and a cadre of right-wing pundits that makes excuses for the lot of them. They won elections on the promise to repeal Obamacare and create jobs. Instead, they have ushered in a litany of policies that are bad for the economy, bad for the environment, and overall bad for the American people. They have punished minorities, turned their backs on justice, and fomented bigotry. They have ignored Trump’s systemic march toward authoritarianism, along with his historic abuse of the office of the Presidency.
If this is what Republican governance looks like, why should average Americans ever vote for them again?
There is nothing conservative about today’s GOP, and that is a serious problem. Republican majorities are not forever. When they lose, they will only have themselves to blame. No political party can denigrate minorities, rip out social safety nets, or ignore American citizens in peril and expect to survive. Nor can they forsake fiscal and personal responsibility. Conservatism once had qualities that could garner wide appeal, but no longer. Republicans have chosen political antagonism and subservience to corruption over those seemingly extinct ideals. The outcome will be bad for America. Why? Because progressivism needs a conservative counter-balance so that it doesn’t run amok. To get it back, traditional conservatives will have to temporarily make friends of long-standing enemies.
A Hard Choice to Save Conservatism
There is only one way to ensure that Republicans return to the solid conservative ideals that have always been cornerstones of American greatness. It is an idea that seems counter to conservatism itself, but is absolutely required in order to fully repudiate the politics of antagonism that Trump’s GOP has so fully embraced over these past several months.
The only way to save conservatism, is to vote for Democrats.
If that sounds insane, it’s because it is. It’s insane that Republican leadership has so fully embraced such an unproductive and self-immolating version of themselves. Populism brought Trump to power (barely), but as a governing philosophy, it has failed spectacularly. Republicans need to lose if they’re ever going to distance themselves from the toxic wing of the party that is now controlling everything.
There is no other option. Creating a third party (or voting for one) won’t change minds in the GOP. Neither will staying home. Ours is a two-party system, meaning that the only number that matters after election day is the margin between Democratic votes and Republican votes. If genuine conservatives sided with Democrats in an effort to return the Republican Party to conservatism, that would have the necessary effect of driving the GOP toward the introspection it needs the most. They came close after the defeat of Romney. The 2012 Republican post-mortem was a treatise of good ideas that would have spared the GOP the embarrassment of Donald Trump. Unfortunately, its conclusions were completely ignored.
While it is arguably insane to ask conservatives to vote with Democrats, it isn’t beyond all reason. With few exceptions, Democratic policy is closer to traditional conservatism than Trumpism will ever be. Even the few outliers that prevent conservatives from voting with Democrats aren’t as egregious as they’re often made out to be. There is common ground to be had on the issues of abortion and gun control. The truth is, the range of partisanship in the United States has become so extreme that traditional conservatives can shift pretty far left, and still remain squarely on the right. On some issues, conservatives also have a better shot of shifting Democrats to the right from within.
It won’t be easy. Anyone admitting their vote for Democrats will be lambasted as traitors to their own party. Our conservative friends will need to find strength and guidance in their most sacred principles. They will need to sacrifice their votes through at least two cycles, helping Democrats to win in order to save the Republican Party from Trumpism. They’ll do it to put country over party, because America needs genuine conservatism.
The only way to save it is to make the enemy of our enemies our friends — for a time. On that score, Democrats loathe Trump at least as much as traditional conservatives do. Ultimately, we share the same goal: A Republican Party that works to ensure that the manifest fail that Donald Trump represents is never allowed to poison conservatism ever again. Voting for Democrats is the single best way to achieve that — for now. ■