Are Conservatives the Black Voters of the Republican Party?
[by Mac Johnson] 10/12/05
Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers -- ironically made
to avoid a confirmation battle -- has touched off a battle
the White House seems not
to have seriously considered: a battle with the most reliable part of his own
base, political conservatives.
of the conservative rebellion against Miers is truly shocking.
Within hours of her announcement the shots began from diverse
redoubts. William Kristol, Rush Limbaugh, David Frum, Ann Coulter,
George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Pat Buchanan, and a legion
of bloggers, commentators, organizers and grassroots leaders
openly questioned or opposed the nomination as a mistake --
and a slap in the face to conservatives’ hard work on
behalf of the Republican Party.
are stepping back to see how this internal conflict plays out
and The White House is in deep damage control. It will be tempting
for the Bush administration to believe that, if it can solve
the problem it created with Harriet Miers, it will have solved
the problem with its Conservative base. But like most of the
fights that occur years into an established relationship, this
fight is about much more than just what it seems to be about
today. There is a history here.
Johnson is a freelance writer and biologist in Cambridge,
Mass. Mr. Johnson holds a Doctorate in Molecular and
Cellular Biology from Baylor College of Medicine. He
is a frequent opinion contributor to Human
Events Online. His website can be found at macjohnson.com [go
to Johnson index]
by this latest let-down, many Conservatives seem to be saying:
after decades of debate, much volunteer work, gargantuan organizing
efforts, and give-til-it-hurts fundraising, we have slowly
built a Republican majority in a nation that was once overwhelmingly
Democrat. Congress has gone from two-thirds Democrat to a slim,
but stable Republican majority. Under conservative banners,
the Republican Party has gone from a refuge for wealthy political
hobbyists to the powerful ruling party it is today, and this
-- this -- is the thanks we get?
many insults and injuries have been building-up within the
Conservative movement to create the great pressure everyone
saw released when Bush picked an unknown, unproven crony to
fill one of the two most important appointments of his entire
career as a politician.
feel that they are taken for granted by the Republican Party
and are the first group to be slighted when compromises have
to be made. They are the fundraising base, the volunteer base
and the turnout base, but they have been forced to swallow
an unfathomably large expansion of Medicare so that Bush can
be said to have “done something” about the fact
that prescription drugs aren’t magically free.
had to watch in horror as Bush stumbled arm-in-arm with Teddy
Kennedy to expand the Department of Education into a more powerful
centralized bureaucracy than any Democrat ever dreamed of making
had to stomach a shameful increase in discretionary spending
and outright pork, and they have been left to watch in horror
the joke of no border enforcement in the midst of war.
And if Bush
gets his way, they will soon be forced to swallow yet another
risky “stealth” nominee to the Supreme Court, and
then a stealth amnesty for the 10-20 million illegal aliens
that have smuggled themselves into the Country in the last
have been inflicted not in spite of the fact that conservatives
are the most reliable part of the base -- but because of this.
strategists, chasing after voters outside the faithful base,
look at Conservatives and whisper “Where are they going
to go if we slight them?” Essentially, strategists believe
that they can stiff conservatives repeatedly, then throw them
a few bones on Right to Life or Gay Marriage, and in the end
they are still going to turn out and vote against John Kerry
or Al Gore or whatever imbecile the Democrats next settle upon.
In many ways,
Conservatives fill the same role for the Republicans as Blacks
fill in the Democrat party. They are loved as a great resource
at election time. But in between elections, blacks are all
but ignored, as the Democrats struggle to woo fickle swing
voters with moderate-sounding mumbo jumbo.
the most loyal of the Democrat constituencies, and so they
do not earn much at all from the Democrats, who occasionally
throw them a few rhetorical bones and promptly abandon them
to chase after the more competed-for swing vote.
the solution to such neglect is easy: they need to start voting
for select Republican candidates now and then. I say this answer
is “easy,” because blacks have actually done quite
well under Republican administrations, since economic growth
is the best anti-poverty program yet devised. Leaving the Democratic
Party thus solves both the problem of being taken for granted
as Democrat voters (by both parties, and both thus ignore them)
and it solves the problems of real life needs.
the situation is somewhat worse because --being an ideological
faction-- they cannot find a real home in the Democrat party
of Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, or John Kerry. They are taken
for granted by Republicans and yet have no place else to go,
So what are
Conservatives to do?
with, not compromising on Miers could be a great fight for
us. In an election, Conservatives abstaining or voting against
the undesired Republican could result in a much, much worse
candidate winning the contest. But the vote on a court appointee
is simply up or down. Defeating Miers -- if she does not show
some staunch principle in the confirmation hearing -- will
simply result in the President's having to name a second candidate.
I believe, what we want, isn’t it?
this next nominee, the President can choose to again fight
both the Democrats and his base, or he can choose to fight
just the Democrats and have Conservatives on his side again.
(And if he were to choose a second unacceptable nominee, he
could only watch as his Presidency entirely crashed and burned.)
a Miers defeat would make future Republican office-holders
much more wary of stiffing Conservatives and thinking that
no harm can come of it.
argument made against Conservatives' scuttling the Miers nomination
is that such a defeat could hamstring Bush for the remainder
of his term, preventing him from enacting any further great
initiatives. Good. With the exception of his responses to the
September 11th massacre and the tax cuts, his great initiatives
have made most Conservatives feel quite ill.
Bush before the upcoming debate over amnesty for illegal aliens
is not a price to paid, it’s a prize to be won.
might be done to Bush, but what about the Conservative movement?
Unlikely. In fact, the confirmation of Miers is much more likely
to harm the movement than the opposite being true. This is
a fight that energizes the base. Capitulation and acceptance
energizes no one.
conservatives should consider (at least temporarily) halting
donations to the Republican Party and donate instead only to
political advocacy groups that specifically support their beliefs
on taxation, economics, small government, illegal immigration,
education and other issues. These organizations can then pick
and choose who among the Republicans deserves Conservative
for the politically obsessed, you can pick like-minded individual
candidates yourself and donate directly to them. Donating to
the Republican Party means your money could go to Tom Tancredo
or Lincoln Chafee, John McCain or Susan Collins. Money without strings attached carries no influence within the Party.)
Conservatives should dedicate themselves to becoming even more
involved in the primaries, where true Conservative candidates
are sometimes to be found. Like it or not, our next candidate
for President is very likely going to be picked more than a
year before the 2008 election, and that candidate will be chosen
from among those who gain supporters and resources in the next
few months. Let’s make sure our next nominee is as fond
of Conservative principles as he is of Conservative support.
takes its core constituents for granted -- unless these constituents,
just occasionally, play hard to get, or better yet, play hardball.
has already begun. tOR
2005 Mac Johnson