Consider past elections for the GOP. Consider the entire electoral history of the Republican Party. Ask yourself when the Republican Party actually advanced a limited-government, free-market, and yes, conservative agenda. Then ask yourself when the average GOP voter paid attention to the failure to advance principles, and actually held their elected officials accountable for this failure.
There are a few examples of this happening. The Tea Party for one. The election of Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Mike Lee, as well as a few others, was a bright spot in the otherwise dismal record of actual conservative types who share our agenda being elected to Congress. But the swamp has continued to win everywhere else, because it always wins. Those who hold the levers of power via their own purse strings control the GOP leadership, and those guys don’t care about your silly principles.
The Republican Party was, and still is, massively dysfunctional. But the fear of the Democrats by the average GOP voter is a powerful force that drives GOP victories. This was critical to the election of President Trump. It certainly didn’t hurt that over the course of decades, voters were told how evil and corrupt and absolutely unacceptable Hillary was, and that she would be the worst thing ever to happen to the country if elected.
What many of us finally accepted is that tribalism, party idolatry, and settling for “better than the Democrats” got the GOP right where it is now. The rebellion that led to Trump started way before he showed up, but he was the spark that started the fire. He should get credit for this.
Trump should get credit for the sudden discovery of the importance of principles.
Trump should get credit for a significant number of defections from the GOP tribe, when many of us were willing to see the scam for what it was and pronounce consequences for the actions of a few in “leadership”.
Trump should get credit for exposing the frauds for what they are, and for laying bare the existing flaws in the GOP.
Trump should get credit for the renewed interest in the rule of law, in the Constitution, and things of long-forgotten value to this Republic.
But none of this increased wokeness means a lick unless the average voter believes that changing their vote means changing the outcome of an election to get a better result in the future. This is where our focus needs to be to start the process of radical change. That’s right – it starts by helping those voters break out of the binary choice box. I’ll leave it to the experts to figure out how this could work, but it’s an essential step forward.
We need to consider the big picture. We need to recognize that an end to the GOP doesn’t mean the end of the world. We need to start planning for the future and embrace freedom. Freedom from tribalism. Freedom from party idolatry. Freedom from mindless defense of the indefensible. But this is something we must commit to doing together. The only way to get better leaders is to hold the ones we have accountable, even if that means one party loses some elections. The long-term benefit will outweigh the short-term risk. Let’s get this process started.