Conservative social media is a very depressing place these days. It’s not just all the people on the same side hurling hate at each other. It’s the fragmenting of a once united movement into candidate partisan groups that circulate talking points and fight culture wars against ‘outsiders’.
This isn’t the Tea Party. It’s little cults of personality around candidates. It’s cultural groups forming around people, signaling insiders and outsiders, the righteous and the infidels.
This isn’t about Trump. It’s about all the candidates who have attracted passionate followings. Conservative social media these days often consists of these partisans having it out.
I don’t know who the winner of all this is, but it isn’t going to be the things we believe in.
What was great about the Tea Party was that it was skeptical about politicians. It said, support the policies we care about or we’ll kick you out. Now it’s support a candidate and excuse their policies.
This isn’t about who we should support. It’s about what we should support.
Every Republican presidential candidate has serious flaws on the major issues. Yes, every single one of them.
And that’s normal. It’s the way politics works. It’s the way politicians work. (Running for political office means you’re a politician, even if you haven’t held political office before.) It’s the way people work.
There are no perfect candidates. It’s why the job of people like us is to hold politicians accountable instead of being their shills. That doesn’t mean not voting. It doesn’t mean not supporting a candidate.
It means supporting candidates realistically by putting ideas first and politicians second.
It means acknowledging that your favorite candidate has flaw X and pushing him to do better. It means supporting him or her because of their policies, not because he or she seems like the ‘one’.
Passion is fine in romance, it’s bad in politics. Politicians, unlike husbands and wives, always cheat. They’re surrounded by advisers who have a lot more influence on them than you do. They have donors and companies and agendas orbiting around them. Their life is different than your life.
And if they win, their life will be so radically different than yours that they just won’t understand.
We’re not going to have a conservative revolution by electing the perfect candidate. Three elections full of disappointments should have shown that already. If we’re going to have one of those, it will be because we have a movement of ideas that can’t be hijacked by anyone with an angle.
I’m not asking you not to support candidate X. I loathe the idea of seeing Jeb Bush up on the podium with Hillary Clinton more than eating used rubber tires. But you might just want to consider the possibility that Jeb Bush’s path to the nomination might be through your favorite candidate and that yelling all day at other conservatives does nothing except open a path for him to get there.
Romney won because there was no consensus conservative opposition candidate. It wasn’t for lack of different potential candidates and their supporters yelling at each other and smearing each other. None of that yelling did anything except clear a path for Romney to the nomination. And then conservatives could self-righteously stay home while Obama grinned at another victory.
We don’t need another replay of 2012.
If we put politicians first. We lose. If we put ideas first, then win or lose, we build a movement.
When we put ideas first, politicians compete to adopt them. That’s what happened with opposition to ObamaCare. It’s what happened with immigration.
Putting ideas first puts us in charge. Putting politicians first puts us right back where we started.
There’s a big difference between supporting a politician and believing in a politician. Belief should be saved for ideas, not for people running for office. When you believe in a politician, you lose sight of the ideas we are fighting for. You stop asking questions and stop holding them accountable.
And then you get Hoped and Changed on.
No politician can save us. No politician will save us. Fighting for the right ideas just might.
It’s fine to look back on a Ronald Reagan with rose colored glasses. Movements need ideal models and the best ones are out of office. It’s dangerous to do that with people who are actually in power because it blinds us to their weaknesses and mistakes. It weakens our fight for what’s right.
None of the candidates in this race is absolutely the 100 percent right one. Some of them may be close enough for government work. And your view and the view of the guy next to you may vary. The right way to tell is by looking at their track records and what they actually support in the cold light of day.
If we don’t do that, if we make excuses for them, then they may get somewhere, but we never will.
If we want to change America, we have to change politicians instead of letting them change us. If we’re not skeptical of the politicians we support, we will keep on being fooled, waking up to wonder why we were fooled and then going through the same cycle as many times as it takes.