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Monday, August 29, 2005

Is It Time for Conservatives to Dump the GOP?

Technical difficulties prevented posting of my weekly Townhall.com column that normally appears on Saturday until early this morning. As of noon today, though, I have received an avalanche of emails in response, with all but a handful agreeing and many suggesting the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party as an alternative.

Would it be easier to organize an effective third party in the age of the Blogosphere?

Here's the column text:

"Thanks to the incredible expansion of federal entitlements, regulations and pork spending sanctioned by the GOP leadership in Congress since 2001, there is virtually no chance that Big Government is going to be shrunk even a little any time soon.
"And since there is no sign the folks running Congress are willing to change course, why shouldn't conservatives dump the GOP?
"Now, all you party loyalists who started gasping while reading that last sentence can take a deep breath. I'm not saying we should just up and bolt right now. What I am saying is this: The rebirth of limited government will remain a conservative pipedream as long as the people in charge of the GOP refuse to sober up.
"Put another way, it's time for an intervention. That's when the family and closest friends and professional associates of an addict confront the abuser with an ultimatum: get sober and get help now or else.
"The presence of the spouse with suitcases packed and the boss with pink slip in-hand helps the abuser realize the consequences of not getting help will be immediate and unpleasant. More than a few lives and careers have been saved over the years by such interventions.
"But sometimes interventions work and sometimes they don't. There is no guarantee that the GOP leaders will get the message, either. Quite frankly, I am not optimistic because I've seen the Stan Evans Law in operation for too long. Evans is the retired conservative activist/journalist who years ago said: 'When one of our people gets elected, sooner or later he [or she] stops being one of our people.'
"Being elected to Congress or appointed to a high position in the Executive Branch to serve in a presidential administration can be a heady experience. Especially for Members of Congress, the perks of office can be overwhelmingly beguiling, so after a term or two the first and last thoughts of too many of our representatives begin to be focused on getting re-elected. Playing along with the powers-that-be in D.C. is often seen as the easiest path to re-election.
"How beguiled have too many of 'our people' become? Think back to January 1995 when the Republicans assumed control of the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. 'First the Berlin Wall, now Congress,' we shouted in unbelieving glee.
"There seemed nothing to stop the conservative agenda of cutting taxes, reducing spending, eliminating wasteful bureaucracy and pointless red tape, limiting the power of incumbency, making Congress more accountable and breaking up the Iron Triangles of special interests, bureaucrats and entrenched Democrats on Capitol Hill.
"Yet here we are a decade later and what do we have to show for it? Taxes have been cut, welfare was reformed, a limited missile defense was approved and ... and ... and. Let's face it, friends, it's a short list. Sure, there have been legislative victories but little of enduring substance from our domestic agenda has been enacted.
"Among other things that have been enacted instead is Medicare 'reform,' the biggest expansion of the Welfare State since LBJ declared war on poverty. The sacred right of free speech is now subject to the whims of Congress through campaign finance 'reform.'
"Federal control of education has never been greater, thanks to a No Child Left Behind 'reform' that was mostly written by Teddy Kennedy. Pork barrel spending is at an all-time high. And as the government grows and the politicians crow, the entitlements crisis approaches ever closer, guaranteed to cause economic, political and social upheaval that will make the Great Depression look like a cakewalk.
"Incredibly, after a decade of GOP control, the federal government is bigger, more powerful, costs more and is less accountable than it was when the Democrats were thrown out by voters in 1994 after four decades of mostly uncontested rule.
"How would an intervention work on the political scene? I don't have that answer. Some people suggest withholding campaign contributions. Others predict conservatives will stay at home in droves in the 2006 elections, possibly handing the Democrats a bunch of new seats in Congress and revived hopes of taking back the White House in 2008.
"Perhaps such a turn of events would be the needed jolt, but it seems just as likely, given recent history, that only the names and party affiliations of those doing damage in Congress would change.
"Got any suggestions?"