True conservatives are deeply disappointed by the results of this year’s presidential election. Not only because a Republican lost to a Democrat, but because there weren’t any conservatives in the running. In fact, there hasn’t been much evidence of conservative practice in the highest office in the land for 20 years.
Does this mean that conservativism is dead? That people no longer hold to ideals of limited government, individual liberty and responsibility, and patriotic attachment to distinctive American first principles, and disengagement from unnecessary international entanglements?
Hardly. There is a vast pool of frustrated idealism in the American republic, as was seen in the early candidacy of Ron Paul, and in the passionate involvement of religious and other conservatives for decades. The problem is that this is a movement without a party. The Republican party, which theoretically stands on many planks of conservatism, in practice is adrift from those principles.
Now I’d like to propose that we do something about it. We who do not identify ourselves with one party, but instead who are Patriotic Independent Conservatives (PICs), have the tools to crowd-organize and support only those candidates who are real conservatives.
I live in NJ, where genuine conservatives are despised and bypassed by the state Republican party, and where Republicans of almost any stripe are routinely defeated (in state or national races) by liberal Democrats. But what if a great candidate – maybe a strongly conservative Republican, or even an Independent, had another source of support beside a compromising Republican party?
Barack Obama has demonstrated, in a very practical way, how technology and individual initiative can be harnessed to create massive and effective support. Why cannot PICs do the same – instead of waiting for the Republican party to do the right thing, why not self-organize into a massive, independent organization that will pool funds and efforts to support other PICs (or at least strong conservatives) who are up for office?
If local, state, or national Republican party groups want to put up moderates or liberals, they forfeit the support of the PIC constituency. And perhaps even invite an Independent candidacy to oppose them along with whatever Democrat is in the mix. But if truly conservative Republicans are running for office, PICs will bring major-league financial and logistical support to bear.
How could this be organized? I’m an idea guy, not an operations person, so the organizational and legal structure is not something I could pursue. However, if a small brain trust of proven conservative political and legal figures would serve as the directors of such an organization (folks like Newt Gingrich, Michael Farris, and other of similar caliber), those of us who are looking for a real voice in the process would feel comfortable investing time and treasure into building an operation that would reflect our values. Not a new political party – a focused and target support organization that gets behind the most conservative candidates.
I could see such an organization getting behind a small handful of principled, conservative candidates, seeding state and national bodies with leaders who believe that the Constitution is not made of malleable plastic. PICs could have both positive and negative leverage over Republican party groups – support a good candidate and we pitch in our support; put forth a milquetoaster and we stay home or even run against you.
I could even see two groups of PICs developing – one for libertarian conservatives, and one for (for lack of a better term) religious conservatives, who tend to put a heavy emphasis on social and religious issues in the public sphere. Both groups, however, share a limited government/individual liberty perspective, and would find common ground on a high percentage of potential candidates.
Perhaps the organization devotes, say, 25% of its budget to defeat the most liberal candidates, even if the opponent is not a true PIC. All part of long-term strategy of trimming back as much extremism as possible.
There is a tremendous well of energy and pent-up passion to have real conservatives back in the public realm. It’s time to take advantage of all the tools in our hands, and grab the microphone (and bank account) and make sure our voice is heard without waiting for a “party” to return to its roots.
What do you think? Is this dream viable? Who wants to take the lead?