Conservatives Wearing the Name Republican vs Republicans Wearing the Name Conservative

As I was browsing the net the other night, I came across an article entitled “Mississippi Republican Party’s Law Firm Comes to the Rescue of LIBERAL DEMOCRAT!” (http://mississippiconservativedaily.com/2015/11/09/mississippi-republican-partys-law-firm-comes-to-the-rescue-of-liberal-democrat/).  I am definitely not endorsing or opposing the content of the article or the blog where it appeared, which I know little about.  However, I did think it was spot on in the way it contrasts “establishment” forces within the Republican Party with truly “conservative” elements (for the purposes of the article it is speaking more of economic conservatives).  I certainly do think it is worth a read.  The article offers a preview of what our state politics in the near future may resemble as Republicans have now become the dominant party in Mississippi state level government.

I consider myself a “social conservative,” which I contend most Mississippians are naturally inclined to be.  Second to that, I do lean conservative economically.  Yet, I have discussed in detail how the issues that concern me about the future of our nation are not financial ones as much as moral/social ones.  In regards to my personal economic conservative leanings, they are far more concerned with our national debt and operating within our means than anything else.  My political concern is whether money is being spent wisely and whether our government is going further into debt.  Simply slashing taxes right and left while digging a deeper debt hole is, I believe, absolutely the worst economic policy our government can pursue.  However, whether or not one agrees or disagrees with me about any point of my political beliefs, I still respect thinking, principled, individuals who are guided by their beliefs and act accordingly for the best interest of our country and state.  This is in contrast to those who blindly follow a political “group” or party line without really considering what the issues actually are.  It also is in contrast to those who wear the name of Republican which they try to pass of a synonym for “conservative” while having no real conservative principles (either economic or social).  These pretend “conservatives” are Republicans simply to have power for their own interests.  They are political animals without true principles other than expanding the power and financial interests of themselves and their allies.  For the blind followers and the “false conservatives” in government only for their self interests, I have no respect.

Thus, we find ourselves in 2015 Mississippi where the state Republican Party has successfully secured a supermajority in the House, a supermajority in the Senate, a Republican Lt. Governor, and a Republican Governor.  With these supermajorities and a hold on the executive branch, the Mississippi Republican Party can pass ANYTHING they want.  If you are conservative (either economically, socially, or a combination of both), just imagine whatever changes you have only dreamed of for Mississippi and would most like to see passed in our state.  Well, those conservative dreams can be a reality now.  All that has to happen is for the Republicans in charge to introduce them, push them, and have the Republicans in the legislature vote together to pass them.  There is no so-called Mississippi “liberal Democrat” wing to point at as blocking any such legislation.  The Mississippi Republican Party holds all the cards and can play the hand as they see fit.

However, what I think this change in our state government is very likely to expose and what I believe the article mentioned above demonstrates is that many in the state are Republicans, but the number of “conservatives” is far less.  Much like those who suddenly materialize with caps, shirts, and tags for whatever sports team is currently dominating, many of these politicians are Republicans simply because Republicans have been winning.  These “bandwagon Republicans” simply see it as beneficial for themselves at present to wear the “Republican” name.  For many of these “bandwagon Republicans” their self-interests and the interests of their supporters are the only principle which guides them into the Republican Party.  This type of political self-interested motivation is what had these politicians wearing the Democrat name in years past and beliefs, ideology, or principles are the absolute last thing the bandwagon jumpers ever think about before making a political move.

Besides the “bandwagon Republicans,” you also have the “establishment Republicans” who I define as Republicans who are simply out to benefit specific business or industry interests.  The “establishment Republican” has been able for several years to convince people they are some form of “conservative,” although they are not.  They have no real social conservative convictions and economically they favor a larger spending role for government to favor their supporters.  By putting on an economic or social conservative mask, these establishment Republican politicians have been able for several years to direct principled economic or social conservative voters into supporting their candidates and voting their way by painting every vote as a conservative stance (which happens to be whatever candidate or bill they support) vs a liberal stance (which happens to be whatever candidate or bill they oppose).  However, if you could see into their mind, they are actually just painting “conservative” on anything which benefits them or those with contribution money who have given to their campaigns.  The “establishment Republicans” appear conservative by advocating tax cuts or wanting to cut spending on government programs which benefit individuals.  However, the tax cuts they push are mainly geared toward corporations, and the government benefits they cut from individuals are simply replaced with new spending programs offering government financial benefits to businesses.  The establishment Republican is against “welfare” only when individual people are the recipients, but it is a different matter entirely when corporations (their donors) are the recipients of “corporate welfare” financial payouts.  An odd benefit to these Republican supermajorities in both Mississippi legislative houses is that many of these “establishment Republicans” may now have a hard time keeping their “real faces” completely obscured behind their masks.

Take the situation in the article, the author is attempting to create a narrative that describes this “establishment Republican” branch which he is casting as “false conservatives” taking the side of a “liberal Democrat.” The author presents the motivation of these “establishment Republicans” being the quid pro quo of the Democratic candidate swapping parties after the election win that their lawyers will help to secure.  Also, by supporting the Democrat candidate, the “establishment Republicans” and their lawyers get the added benefit of keeping a more ideologically principled Republican out of office.  You see the establishment has power and wants more power for its own benefit.  Should a Democrat (even a so-called “liberal Democrat”) agree to swap parties and presumably then vote with the party establishment to repay the favor, the outcome would be much more desirable than even gaining a lifelong Republican candidate whose principles might cause him to go his own way, rather than following the herd as directed by the party establishment.  Yes, in the post-2015 Mississippi political world, we are sure to see such odd occurrences as principled conservative candidates are seen as enemies of the “establishment” who only wants people who will vote with, listen to, and follow the party establishment’s marching orders.  Less desirable to this establishment is anyone with true conservative beliefs and the willingness to follow those beliefs even if they are in conflict with the establishment.  “Establishment Republicans” are Republicans first and conservatives a (perhaps very distant) second.  “Principled Republicans” are conservatives first (either economic, social, or a combination) and Republicans second.

For example, the “establishment Republican” leadership might decide they want a bill pushed through to help a major business donor by giving a tax break to their particular industry or giving some form of direct subsidy (corporate welfare) which the company would qualify to get.  In supporting such a bill, the “establishment” wing is very much going against “economic conservative” principles of limited government involvement in the economy, tight government spending, and preserving an equal playing field for all businesses to compete in the free market without favoritism from the state.  This type of situation is where the conservative “mask comes off” of the establishment exposing them as simply another political faction seeking to grant special benefits to its particular constituency.  The principled conservative (economic or social) is here a huge liability to the establishment as they look to their principles to decide how to vote instead of just to the establishment leadership’s direction.  As stated before, while Democrats were still a force to be reckoned with in the legislature, the establishment Republicans could use them to rally all troops to support any particular bill by pointing to the fact that Democrats=liberals are against this bill and Republicans=conservatives are supporting it, so the bill itself must be conservative and there was no need to scrutinize it too closely.  Thus, Democrats served as the boogey man in these cases to unify all Republicans behind particular actions, bills, or causes by giving the impression the cause itself was conservative, even if it was not.  In the present political climate, lacking this Democratic boogey man, the Republican establishment had much rather have an ex-Democrat who owes the establishment his political life and is willing to vote with the establishment on most anything rather than the principled conservative Republicans who are not nearly as dependable for such unquestioned support and voting.

As bad as such a situation might seem, I actually look forward to this type of fracturing.  I see it as some good which might come out of this election with its monolithic Republican hold upon state government.  You see I favor debate of the issues and on the surface a total Republican monopoly on state power would seem to stifle such debate as Republicans act in lock-step on every political action and vote which arises.  Yet by achieving such total dominance, I believe it is inevitable that such debate may become more prominent within the Republican Party itself.  As a person who supports ideas and individuals over simply following a party line, this would be the best possible situation.  I could care less whether Democrats hold 100% of the elected positions in the state.  I could also care less if Republicans hold 100% of those elected positions.  As long as there is freedom of thought and debate of ideas, I could care little about which party is in power.  In my opinion, competition and the free market are necessary to weed out the bad ideas and hopefully bolster the better ones.  I am optimistic that by gaining this blanket absolute political dominance in the state, the Republican Party itself will now be forced to allow such debate and competition within its own ranks and the false conservative establishment will be forced to reveal its true nature.

-Clint Stroupe

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