Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a lot of thinking about Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I’ve never been a big fan of the anti-Biblical and elitist teachings espoused in the book, but this election cycle has brought the need for a serious examination of where conservatives stand within the Republican Party. What the industrialists faced in Rand’s America is so similar to what conservatives face in today’s Republican Party that the comparison is violently relevant.
There will be no spoilers and if you haven’t read the book, there are much better expenditures of time. Don’t worry – one does not have to read it to understand what I’m about to say. Those who’ve read it will see parallels, not so much in the ideologies from the book that are often embraced by our Libertarian cousins but in the general similarities to the problems that confront conservatives right now.
To know the path that conservatives must travel, we must discern our place within American politics and the Republican Party. There are millions of conservatives who are in the GOP, but for the sake of distinction I will refer to us as conservatives. The Republican Establishment, whether within its leadership or in its enabling proletariat, will be referred to as the party itself.
“They” are Republicans. Conservatives in the GOP are still conservatives.
Republicans need and despise you
Like most conservatives, I’ve always felt the strong urge to pull the GOP to the right. If we simplify the choices made in politics and society down to a sliding linear scale of leftist liberalism and rightist conservatism, we will see that over the decades the Democrats have progressed further to the left while the Republicans have approached the center, even crossing to left-of-center on many issues. Being the more conservative of the two major parties, it has seemed logical for conservatives to work from within the GOP in a tug-of-war against the moderate Establishment that believes in the same big-spending, overreaching approach to American governance that we attach to the Democrats.
This battle has been waged within the GOP since the 1960s when fathers of the modern conservative movement felt initial shockwaves of a continental divide forming within the party. Unfortunately, what they saw as a possibility has become our reality; conservatives went from being the core of the party to the necessary evil given only lukewarm acceptance when it’s convenient. The GOP no longer sees conservatives as the moral heart of the party but rather as the impractical vestigial organ that does nothing but add necessary weight to the party during election seasons. They no longer view conservatism and the Constitution as the philosophical touchstones to keep the party pure but rather as centerpieces of their campaign slogans to be disregarded once they’re in office.
As a conservative, the Republican Party needs you to keep the Establishment’s grip on power. As a conservative, the Republican Party despises you because you hold their feet to the fire when they veer left. At least, that’s what you should be doing.
The biggest reason they despise you is that you’re a reminder of the vision that may have driven them into politics to begin with, a vision that has since been lost to corruption, cronyism, false pragmatism, and the comfort they feel when they bask in the Establishment sun.
They want your ideas to justify their own
Conservatism is a state of being. It’s the only political philosophy that diverges from being an ideology and finds its core within the people who live their lives without fear of contradiction. As such, it’s the only pure political perspective because only conservatives can reconcile their philosophy with every aspect of their lives, particularly when it comes to their religion. Liberal views cannot be reconciled with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or any other major religion because their ideology conflicts with the tenets that allegedly drive their existence. Even atheism runs squarely in opposition to liberalism because many of the values that liberals claim to uphold contradict the idea that we are accidental anomalies of order within an unsympathetic cosmos of disorder whose constructs of morality have no practical purpose beyond camouflaging our own self-interests.
Republicanism is even worse. The contradictions of liberalism are honestly acknowledged by liberals and easily dismissed by their maintenance of a platonic relationship between their ideology and their personal belief systems. The Republican Establishment tries to marry the two, but it’s a marriage of convenience. They look to conservatism to justify this marriage by bending to the will of the party. Then, they look to conservatives to figure out how to fix the problems that occur as a result.
The GOP majority in both chambers of Congress is the perfect example of how this marriage works. On one hand, they look to conservatism to promote the idea of smaller government, reduced spending, and moral truths on individual issues such as keeping Planned Parenthood funding out of Zika research funding. This is their justification to push their fights and score points within the party. In the end, it becomes clear that these fights were only for show. They expand the overreach of government, increase spending, and buckle on every individual issue. They want the public to remember that they fought to keep Planned Parenthood funding away from Zika funding. They then hope the public barely notices when they fund Planned Parenthood with the Zika funding bill.
At no point in recent years, whether with or without the majority, have they fought for conservatism. They have allowed conservatives to fight and have even cheered them on at first, but invariably they have caved to “pressures” from the left. It’s a sham. They were never actually fighting for conservative principles. They were using conservatism to act as their justification for achieving the goals they had in mind from the beginning. We can see this in clear display during those rare occurrences when conservatives actually win. For example, the Republican Establishment was all in favor of shutting down the government to fight Obamacare in 2013 until they realized that it could actually happen. They wanted Ted Cruz to help them justify their eventual acceptance of the budget by being the conservative protest. They didn’t want him to actually go through with it and condemned him when he made it happen. They painted him as the fool who had just blown their chances of ever winning the Senate. Of course, there were no apologies or acknowledgements when they actually won the Senate in the following election.
Your ideas are not their ideas. Your ideas are the feint, the glancing blow against liberalism that props up the facade that they fight for the people when in reality they are fighting for their own ideas. You justify the acceptance of their ideas by being their lukewarm futile attempt to do the right thing. They’ll always try a little conservatism as long as it never manifests in their reality.
Even if you save them they’ll abandon you
The perpetuation of power within the Establishment supersedes loyalty, logic, the will of the people, or the betterment of America. We’ve seen this clearly demonstrated in the past week as calls to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen were negotiated away by the GOP for one reason and one reason only: it’s an election year. They punted on the imperative need to determine how deep his involvement has been with the IRS scandals, allowing him more time to solidify his philosophies within the agency while creating greater distance between him and the conspiracies that must be investigated.
The Freedom Caucus did everything they could to get something out of it. They negotiated for hearings which is more than the Establishment wanted to give them, but it still leaves them with no tangible avenue to act until next year. Moreover, any backlash that comes from the hearings will be blamed on them while any credit for going after Koskinen will be claimed by the Establishment.
This is how it works in the Republican Party today. Just as Cruz helped to save the party in the Senate and the Freedom Caucus helped to save the party in the House, so too will you be called upon to save the party in the future. Like Cruz and the Freedom Caucus, you will be blamed for failures and forgotten when progress is made. As conservatives, you are forced to accept abandonment regardless of how many times you save them.
Ronald Reagan is the epitome of this trend. The Republican Establishment fought with every ounce of their being in 1976 and 1980 to prevent Reagan from being the GOP nominee. He represented a brand of modern conservatism that they simply couldn’t stomach because it ran contrary to the big-government mentality that was taking hold in the party. Even through two years of his first term, they fought his actions and tried to impede his success.
When it became clear that he was not only going to be a successful President but one who could cross party lines to solidify conservatism as the pathway to American exceptionalism, they switched gears. They embraced him as their champion even if he didn’t share their ideas. In essence, the co-opted him. They continue to do it today. Meanwhile, they’ve abandoned his principles and skewed the party’s history so that their candidates can invoke Reagan without actually adopting any of his philosophies.
Reagan saved the Republican Party and the country. In return, the Republican Party abandoned his ideas while branding themselves as his heirs.
What they did to Reagan is a microcosm of what they’re doing to you. As conservatives, your principles have within them the core of an ideal America, but for that idealism to become a reality, the Establishment must step aside or fall. They will not let that happen without a conservative revolution similar to what Reagan did. Unfortunately, he didn’t go far enough because he still believed that the party could be fixed from within. He was wrong and his legacy has been systematically altered to match what the Republican Party wants us to see today.
It’s time to take your conservatism where it can be used
In Atlas Shrugged, the industrialists and scientists took their minds away from the nation. We don’t have that luxury nor would we be so idealistic that we would let America crumble without a fight. However, we do have the ability to continue the fight and build our strength to combat the plague of liberalism that is sweeping across the nation.
We can do it. We must do it. It has to be done under a new umbrella. Until we are strong enough to take over the Republican Party, we must consolidate our efforts behind a new party that act as the default champion for conservatism. Right now, the GOP is the default for conservatism. We’re allowing them to tarnish our philosophy by attaching it to the faux-conservatism of that they embody. This, more than any other reason, is why liberalism is spreading. The image of conservatism is seen by so many, particularly young voters, as the people and ideologies that the GOP embraces.
In essence, young voters never knew Reagan and older voters are being fed an improper representation of Reagan’s initial vision.
At the beginning of this article, I made the premature assumption that conservatives would associate themselves with conservatism and differentiate themselves from Republicans even if you’re registered for the GOP. If over the course of reading this article you’ve come to the same conclusion, I encourage you to sign up for new conservative party updates below. We will not do anything that hurts America or the conservative movement. At this point, we will only make a few voting recommendations on key elections where conservatives have a chance of winning. After the election, we will officially form a new party.
Regardless of who wins in November, conservatives will need a new home. Both parties are shifting their actions and policies to the left. Someone needs to be there to represent the true right. Will you be one who stands athwart history yelling, “stop!” If so, we should be your new political home.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The New Americana on September 18, 2016, and was transferred here for relevance.