OpinionConservatism deserves better

Illustration by Ren Rader If you watched last week’s Democratic presidential debate, you might think that the presidency is a highly sought after position. Which is true, in the case of Democrats, but far off the mark for Republicans. As of now, there are only four candidates for the Republican nomination, and none of the current president’s challengers stand a chance. The leading candidate is, of course, the president himself, who currently holds a net...
Ben FalconSeptember 18, 201931924 min
https://149362186.v2.pressablecdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/presidential-debate-1280x1280.png

Illustration by Ren Rader

If you watched last week’s Democratic presidential debate, you might think that the presidency is a highly sought after position. Which is true, in the case of Democrats, but far off the mark for Republicans. As of now, there are only four candidates for the Republican nomination, and none of the current president’s challengers stand a chance.

The leading candidate is, of course, the president himself, who currently holds a net disapproval rating with 54 percent of Americans believing he has done a poor job in his position. Republicans, however, have firmly coalesced behind him since the day he captured the nomination back in 2016. But in recent months, his support among them has waned.

Since taking office, the common speculation among political pundits and analysts has been that the president will face a Republican primary challenger in 2020 because of his status as one of the most unpopular presidents, his Russian associations and his support of unpopular policies. The question has never been whether he will be challenged, but rather how significant of a challenge will the president face from his own ranks.

Now that former South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford has entered into the field already occupied by former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, it seems clear that a serious challenger is unfortunately not likely to come forward this late in the race. The fact that conservatism has essentially been hijacked and corrupted by the alt-right in this country, and that no one within the Republican Party appears to be bothered by it is both upsetting and terrifying. I have long admired and respected the principles and values espoused by conservatives like John McCain and Mitt Romney, but today, the Republican Party appears more interested in sewing divisions and consorting with autocrats than balancing budgets and defending democracy.he fact that conservatism has essentially been hijacked and sold out by the alt-right in this country, and no one within the Republican Party appears to be bothered by it is both alarming and upsetting. I have long admired and respected the principles and values espoused by conservatives like John McCain and Mitt Romney, but today, the Republican Party appears more interested in sewing divisions and consorting with autocrats than balancing budgets and defending democracy.

Joe Walsh was a former supporter of the president who himself engaged in divisive and racist rhetoric when talking about president Obama and other opponents. In Sanford’s case, his unprofessional way of handling his extramarital affair and his disappearance make for more than an interesting Google, but genuinely tarnish his credibility to criticize the president’s moral leadership. The problem with the three Republicans running against the president is that none of them present real challenges, even without taking the incumbency factor of the current president into account. The current candidates are either too compromised by their past rhetoric morally to hold the higher ground in a race against the president, as is the case with Sanford and Walsh, or are simply out of touch with the issues important to the party’s base like with Weld.

As a Democrat, I naturally would like to see this president removed from office in the next election; furthermore, as a fiscal conservative, I would like to see the Republican party rise to the occasion and fend off the entry of the alt-right into the conservative movement with a a real challenger. I have witnessed my own party abandon the middle ground and lurch leftward, and as a result, I am left feeling as though there is no candidate or party in the race seeking to represent my values. It is time for a candidate to come forward within the Republican Party to boldly stand up for what is right and confront the tragedy that is this current presidency.

In all honesty, I am growing tired of politics in this new era under the current president. I simply want to see him out and for us all to return to a better kind of politics. The repugnant rhetoric and nonstop dysfunction coming from this president have become more than just exhausting, but literally deadly, as mass shootings and hate crimes continue to climb as he continues to defend neo-Nazis and embolden white supremacy in this country.

For Republicans to not consider the alt-right’s occupation of their own party to be enough for them to defend conservatism is mind-boggling. I believe the silence of true and sensible conservatives amidst the rancor of reactionaries is what created our situation. What happened to the small-government, tax-cutting and budget balancing conservatives of old I wonder? We cannot afford to continue waiting near the sword in the stone for a gallant new leader to appear; therefore, I encourage everyone reading this to get involved and vote. Today, all we have that’s left to stand up for true conservatism is Mark Sanford, Bill Weld and Joe Walsh. We can and must do better. Conservatism deserves better. We all deserve better.

Ben Falcon

3 comments

  • JB

    September 20, 2019 at 11:50 am

    I agree with you fundamentally that President Trump is a poor representative for conservatism. That’s why I supported Ted Cruz in the 2016 primaries and wrote-in Evan McMullin on election day. I wish there were a conservative alternative, or at least a center-left candidate in the gaggle of Democratic presidential hopefuls. I’m not optimistic of that happening if current trends continue. To me, it looks like both Democrat and Republican parties are adopting European trends with one side favoring a massive expansion on social welfare spending versus a big-government nationalist populism.

    I don’t think that the “small government, tax cutting, and budget balancing conservatives of old” have disappeared. Republicans passed tax reform a couple years ago (and I started taking home an extra $70 per month from my Trinity paycheck), they tried to get rid of Obamacare, and Paul Ryan waxed poetic for years about how he wanted entitlement reform. Despite his rhetoric, Trump has governed relatively conservatively. This will be why I (most likely) vote for him in 2020.

    There are MANY reasons posited as to “how” we got Trump. I don’t want to litigate those. However, I do agree on the whole that Trump is a reaction from the right for being called racists, sexists, white supremacists, homophobes, etc for…well, as long as I can remember. I was in college during the 2008 election. Democrats speak well of John McCain now, but back then he was a racist monster who was going to die of old age and leave a Disney Princess in the oval office. Mitt Romney was a classist stooge who hated women and homosexuals (gay marriage was a big issue in 2012 politics). Even before that, W. Bush was a dunce, Chimp-like warmonger lining the pockets of Halliburton.

    The proliferation of online news and social media has only amplified the pre-existing media echo chambers that cast moral judgments on conservatives for disagreeing with Democrats on most major issues. Anti abortion? You hate women (specifically poor black women). Welfare reform? You hate poor black people. Border security? You hate brown people. Against gay marriage? You’re a bigot. On and on it goes. When everything becomes morally problematic then “morally problematic” then nothing is morally problematic. These labels cease to mean anything beyond a constant drum-beat of insufferable self-righteousness.

    I experienced immense catharsis on election night when I witnessed a stunned silence while walking past the election party run by Trinity’s two left wing organizations in the CSI atrium. You could hear a pin drop. Finally, someone gave them all the middle finger and they have to stand there and take it! The schadenfreude was unfortunately dulled by the realization that this man is now president. It was a bizarre cognitive dissonance. I wrote a long Facebook post the next day about how I voted and what observed from those around me. One of the first responses was a gay friend trying to shame me for voting Trump (he quickly deleted the comment when another pointed out that I had not voted for him).

    There is certainly a place in the Republican party for a conservative, but that would require other Republican voters to put aside years of animus against the vocal minority of overly-judgmental Democrats. That’s a tall order. I suspect it will take 8-16 years of consecutive Democratic presidents before that’s possible.

    Reply

    • Monique

      October 11, 2019 at 9:45 pm

      So basically you had a problem with people pointing out genuine issues they had with your candidates and the positions they had y’all didn’t really rally against at the time and that you now claim you always had a problem with (except the log cabin republicans when they weren’t complete sycophants). Then to retaliate you voted for a guy who was pretty obviously a vodka to your previous Moscow mules of racism, homophobia, chicken hawking, and “all hail the rich with tax cuts”. Yeah, excuse me for not being sorry y’all did this to yourselves because y’all got laughed at for supporting some pretty odd people over the years from men who think women can swallow cameras to see their unborn baby (which mean someone is a serious cannibal) and people who’s best response to global warming is “look at this snowball” and people who seem to think that abstinence only education is somehow going to reduce the teen pregnancy rate and prevent STD transmission.

      Reply

  • Cathy Smith

    November 28, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    With the 2020 election right around the corner our nation is divided over feelings. we should focus more on economics for our future. economicoverfeelings

    Reply

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