Kathy Gyngell and Laura Perrins asked me to write this weekly column for the US election cycle because, as befitting The Conservative Woman mission statement of providing principled conservative commentary outside the political or media elite, they could see that the British media mostly regurgitated US media narratives about the election. They wanted to know what a principled conservative saw.
Today, I see devastation.
Senator Ted Cruz’s shock exit from the race on Tuesday marked the end of the Republican Party as a conservative home. We are free agents now.
Rumour has it that some credible threats convinced Cruz to drop out, but more likely he saw that neither the self-interested GOP players nor the gullible Trump supporters could be swayed. They cling together in the carcass that is the GOP now. They might have even made a Trump/Kasich deal on that.
We were witnesses to a rare event in US history, the death of a US political party. The Grand Old Party’s final breath was commemorated in modern fashion, burning registration card snaps tweeted to Reince Priebus, head of the GOP, pop culture memes, and one heck of a search spike for Gary Johnson and the Libertarian Party.
Our founders were clever men. They provided people of principle many options for peacefully resisting tyranny, whether it comes by king or by mob. Soon, I will explain about Article V conventions. We’ve never called one, but as the federal government is likely to be headed by a criminal or a charlatan, it is imperative that we restore the limits on federal power, so a convention of states has leapt closer to possible.
The state and federal structure provided by our republican Constitution also means that we have varieties of conservatives.
Overgeneralising as I must for an 800-word limit, we have social conservatives—pro-life, pro-organic marriage, etc. When the media talk of conservatives, they usually mean social conservatives, which most people hear because outside the US that’s what conservatives are. We also have limited government, or Constitutional conservatives, such as Ted Cruz.
Usually, social and Constitutional conservatism go together, but there are social conservatives who are not Constitutional conservatives. Washington DC is full of these. They are much like Tories — government intervention is necessary and wonderful as long as it advances social conservatism.
We also have limited government conservatives who are socially liberal. These, broadly classifying, are the Libertarians.
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, has run as a Libertarian for a few cycles when he left the Republican party due to getting ousted from debates by the party powers. The primary calendar and rules that favour the early frontrunner and helped Trump secure this nomination? They were designed to fend off challenges from credible libertarian Republicans, who wouldn’t so much devolve power as dissolve it. The GOP elite liked that no more than Tories would.
The Libertarian party convention is at the end of this month. The Republican card burners are looking for an option, and this is the first to present. There is also a possibility of an independent run.
Yes, the foregoing assumes Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States. There is no escaping that now, and not because of the GOP card burners. Too many people think Trump is worse than Clinton. I, and many other GOP leavers—if we may borrow a UK conservative term—think otherwise, but we cannot staunch the bleed.
The deluge of opposition research about to be unloaded on Trump will be much worse than anything we’ve seen yet. (Yes, really.) His path to 270, the winning number of Electoral College votes, will require him to move left and betray his primary voters. That will not go over well.
Between Trump’s negatives, Clinton’s negatives, and both of their character assassination campaign styles, this will be the most negative US presidential campaign—perhaps ever.
Now, principled conservatives must protect state and local conservatives, and that little “R” next to their names just became the modern scarlet letter. With Trump’s nomination, the rest of the US electorate now has their evidence that the Republicans are the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigots that they thought Republicans were.
We cannot form a conservative coalition under the Republican brand. We have to leave.
I cannot offer any comfort for our allies, either. Trump is unpredictable and his economic policy would wreck markets. One of the reasons Libertarians aren’t more popular is because they are usually some flavour of isolationist. And Clinton, the likely victor, may have experience in foreign policy, but compare the state of world before and after her tenure as Secretary of State.
Today, we see devastation.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)