Conservatives seemingly no longer have a political party that they can call home. In the days running up to and after this year’s election, those who consider themselves to be conservative are not unlike young people in the foster care system. Having lost their family, they are matched into what will hopefully be a good environment. Sometimes the outcome is good, and other times the system fails. For conservatives at the end of 2016, the system has failed.
For nearly 60 years, conservatives and people of faith have been visibly engaged in our nation’s political process. The ascendance of Ronald Reagan to the presidency gave modern conservatism a face. Built on the foundation of a strong belief in individual liberty, property rights, free markets, low taxes and minimal government intervention, conservatism at its core sees the unlimited potential of individuals. In addition, a strong national defense, reverence for the sanctity of life and reverence for the U.S. Constitution shore up the foundation of conservative ideology.
Lee Edwards of the Heritage Foundation wrote on September 2015 at the Daily Signal that “free will and moral authority come from God; political and economic liberty are essential for the preservation of free peoples and free institutions; government must be strictly and constitutionally limited; the market economy is the system most compatible with freedom; and Communism, terrorism or any other major external threat must be defeated, not simply contained.”
Elected officials have perfected the practice of engaging conservatives with the promise that they stand with them in their beliefs. In many cases, however, once in office, standing becomes more like a wobble. Time and again, political expediency has undermined commitment to conservative values, in Washington and across state legislatures.
The most recent example of this betrayal of conservative principles was in the handling of the recent budget continuing resolution. While holding a majority in both houses of Congress, the Republicans voted to pass the resolution, funding everything that the Democrats wanted. Included in the $1.1 trillion package was funding for President Obama’s transgender directive, his DACA program and Planned Parenthood. The GOP majority looked at conservatives and gave them a sharp stick in the eye, rather than standing principle.
In a recent appearance on the “What Matters in North Carolina” podcast, Daniel Horowitz, senior editor at conservativereview.com said, “Something has gone awry and it’s greater, broader, larger than just one election cycle. Conservatives do not have a home, period. And social-conservatives really don’t have a political party. That has become abundantly clear. The left is now winning 60-year culture battles without firing a shot.”
Horowitz added, “When you allow the other side to implement their transgender agenda left and right, when you allow individuals of faith to be thrown in jail for being Christians with their own private property, for not serving something that’s against their conscience – conscience is the most sacred of property rights, what our country’s been founded on – there’s something wrong.” Horowitz also said that there is no national political vehicle for conservatives to do anything about these assaults on liberty, and asked, “What are we going to do after we’ve been lacking a party for over a decade that will even speak to these issues?”
The points Horowitz raises are valid, especially when combined with the real-life disappointment that elected officials who have repeatedly been supported by conservatives fail to stand for conservative principles they espoused on the campaign trail.
Horowitz said that the Planned Parenthood fight was a glaring example that the Republican Party is broken and will never be the vehicle conservatives need. Even after they were shown talking about harvesting baby organs, the Republicans refused to stop giving them taxpayer support. Horowitz said, “They’re not there to fight, they’re there to get elected.”
After the dust settles from the election, conservatives will need to do some serious soul-searching. Will we continue to support candidates who pander to our principles to get elected, yet make a mockery of them when in office? With battles on multiple fronts such as refugees, Planned Parenthood funding with tax dollars, religious liberty and transgender edicts that invalidate states’ legislation, where will conservatives turn?