“Why would anyone vote Republican?”
It’s a question many on the right have asked for a long time. Especially since the Republican Party’s nomination of John McCain in 2008, many of the more ideological (that is, principled) members of the right have questioned whether the GOP is truly the bastion of right-wing ideals it professes to be.
Save for the unceasing attempts by the House to repeal Obamacare, the Republican Party’s track record under President Obama has more often than not confirmed the opposite, and Matt Drudge has taken notice.
No one could reasonably accuse Drudge, the founder and editor of the Drudge Report, of being anything but a conservative par excellence. Nevertheless, he took to Twitter on Tuesday to verbally lambast the Republican Party over its ideological identity crisis in the twenty-first century:
Why would anyone vote Republican? Please give reason. Raised taxes; marching us off to war again; approved more NSA snooping. WHO ARE THEY?!
– Matt Drudge (@DRUDGE)
Drudge certainly is not the first to express his dismay with the GOP, though his criticism is perhaps one of the most expansive. Jonah Goldberg of National Review criticized Republicans, and Mitt Romney in particular, for retreating to “an ideological and even intellectual crouch” in the 2012 Republican National Convention. Following the election, Goldberg again blasted chief Romney strategist Stu Stevens for a “contempt of ideas – never mind conservative ideas.” Democratic strategist Pat Caddell took the stage in CPAC to blister the Romney campaign, the RNC, Karl Rove’s Super PAC and “racketeering” GOP consultants who have led their party to consecutive presidential defeats. I count myself among those critics, having repeatedly criticized the GOP for its barefaced lack of principles.
In this sense, Drudge merely condensed all existing criticisms into 140 characters or less. The Republican Party has ceased to be the party of Reagan (the ideal, if not the actual) where the maxim “government is the problem” reigned supreme. Instead, it has morphed into a poor facsimile of the Democratic Party, never disagreeing on principle, but merely lumbering one or two steps behind the Democrats in a march towards increased government to the detriment of the ideals at the core of our nation, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence and in this publication’s inaugural article.
In a tweet preceding the one above, Drudge noted these unfortunate similarities between the two parties:
It’s now Authoritarian vs. Libertarian. Since Democrats vs. Republicans has been obliterated, no real difference between parties…
– Matt Drudge (@DRUDGE)
I would not go so far as to say that the fundamental battle in our country today is between authoritarianism and libertarianism, but Drudge is certainly on the right track. The battle for the future of this nation is not – nor has it ever been – a principally partisan or political battle. It is, more fundamentally, a battle of principles, of ideas, of ideology, of culture.
And for the past hundred years or so, it is the left that has set the tenor of our culture. It is the left that has determined our nation’s moral, and thus political, ideals. It is the left who has set the political course of our nation. The Republican Party has merely been along for the ride, at best serving as dead weight to slow the Democrats down.
Perhaps that is the only honest answer to Drudge’s query, “Why would anyone vote Republican?” It is not for who they are, but for who they are not – that being the Democratic Party.
But as the last two presidential elections have demonstrated, the Democrats cannot be beaten by “not-Democrats.” The left cannot be defeated by “not-left.” There has to be a real, meaningful alternative that – contrary to the conventional wisdom of the GOP consulting class – takes a convicted stand for principle, not for the moderation or compromise of it.
As Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute noted in Atlanta this summer, “Ideas shape history. History is about ideas.” There cannot be a right-wing renaissance politically without a preceding ideological renaissance to direct it, and the Republican Party needs directing.
THE EDITORS: Milquetoast (adj.)- Timid, meek. (Negative: Soggy, like, well — say it out loud.)
It is currently in limbo between the milquetoast pantomimes of the left like John McCain and Mitt Romney and the self-appointed crusaders of Christendom like Rick Santorum and Todd Akin.
Before the Republican Party (let alone the nation) can be saved from the decades of defeat that the consistent adaptation of either side will bring them, it is up to the right-wing intellectual class to show them the way. It is up to us as right-wing intellectuals (especially as young right-wing intellectuals) to make the case for right-wing ideals, in addition to defining precisely what those ideals are. In changing the nature of the debate, we change its outcome – in offering legitimate challenges to the direction of our nation (and not just to the speed at which we are heading in that direction), we seize the helm and make this ship of state our own. The political course of our nation can be changed, but only if we change it by changing the ideas driving it.
The political battles of 2014 and 2016 will come in due time, but first, let the war for the culture of our nation and our campus commence.
—Brian Underwood is a senior studying history.