While culture is more important than politics, and the next conservatism must include a new movement to restore our traditional culture, politics remains important, too. The political question is, what vehicle should the next conservatism choose in politics? Even a powerful new culturally conservative movement will need a relationship with a political party.
Some conservatives will argue that we should create a new political party. I understand that sentiment. In many ways, the Republican Party has been a disappointment.
But the fact remains that our whole political system is tilted powerfully against third parties. Third parties can and do play useful roles, especially in raising issues the two main parties would rather avoid (like immigration and the damage done by free trade). But in the end, it is virtually certain that national elections will be won by either the Republican or Democratic Party.
In my opinion, as someone who has spent most of his life in politics, that means the next conservatism must attempt to re-take the Republican Party. We have to do again what we did starting in the 1960s and ending in the nomination of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Of course, many Republicans will tell us, “You don’t need to re-take the Republican Party for conservatism. It is conservative now.” Well, that isn’t exactly accurate. On some issues it is true. The Bush administration has nominated good judges, and most Republicans in the Senate have tried to get them confirmed. We have cut taxes again. There are other examples of real conservatism in today’s Republican Party.
But there are too many issues where the Republican Party, openly or covertly, has sold us out. Its policy of promoting democracy around the world through wars is Wilsonianism, which is the opposite of conservatism. On immigration and trade issues, it could hardly be worse. On the culture, it tells cultural conservatives it agrees with us, but what it actually does behind closed doors is often another story. Frankly, many Washington Republicans look on our beliefs on issues like feminism and “gay rights” with secrete derision. They tell us what we want to hear to our faces, but they don’t believe it. They have accepted the rules laid down by Political Correctness, at least to the point where they aren’t willing to break them.
So, again, in my view, unless we are prepared to be used and then disregarded by Republicans over and over, we need to re-take the Republican Party. How?