In 1996, conservatives were told to abandon their hopes of having Pat Buchanan as the Republican nominee. They said that the party needed to latch onto the Republican Establishment candidate of the day, Bob Dole, if we had any hope of ejecting Bill Clinton from office. It’s time for them to listen to their own advice. This year, the party must rally around a conservative.
Before we discuss why this is the case this year, let’s look at history. 1996 was a devastating loss for the Republicans. Bill Clinton was liked, but his character had become an issue once again and his policies were not what many of his fans had anticipated. With Ross Perot still in the mix, it was imperative that the Republicans put up a candidate that inspired people. Buchanan was the right choice, but conservatives were made to believe that they needed to play ball and get on board with a moderate.
Fast forward to the George W. Bush era and we see that the Republican Establishment came out with the same ideas. This time, they didn’t try to convince people that they needed to support the moderate. They convinced many that Bush was a conservative. He was, in reality, a fiscally liberal Neocon which can be easily confused with a conservative during times of war. That’s why he won.
John McCain and Mitt Romney were repeats of Bob Dole. Again, there were conservatives who wanted stronger choices but we were told to play ball. The result has been the most damaging two terms of a President in American history.
Things are different in 2016. The “mainstream” candidates are nowhere to be found and two outsiders are leading the polls. Ted Cruz is clearly a conservative and Donald Trump is using conservative talking points to rally the people. It’s working. Going into the primaries, the Republican Establishment needs to understand that they’re not going to get their anointed one, whether it’s Marco Rubio or Chris Christie, into the nomination. They have two choice: play ball as they’ve always asked conservatives to do or destroy the party.
Unfortunately, it looks like they’re going for option B.
It’s our hope that they’re doing this temporarily, that they don’t want to drag this out so long the Democrats get their nominee campaigning in the general election months before the Republicans even pick a nominee. That would be bad, but it would be even worse if they decide they’re going to push the fight all the way to the convention which is seemingly more and more plausible.
Republicans need to understand a very unfortunate truth: the Republican Establishment would rather have a Democrat in office than a true conservative. This is hard for most to believe since Democrats never think like this and conservatives are normally reluctant supporters (but supporters nonetheless) of the moderate that the Republican Establishment selects. To them, they’d rather lose the election and maintain control of the party rather than risk a conservative winning the election and then moving control of the party further to the right.
They have asked conservatives for decades to abandon their candidates and support their moderates. This year, we’re asking the same thing. They can either play ball or they’ll burn the whole party down. It’s sad but they may prefer ruling over a destroyed party than serving under a thriving conservative version.