Happy Valentine’s Day politicos. Love and heartache is in the air.
You may not know this, but twenty-two years ago, I entered a relationship with the GOP, forsaking all others. Maybe you know her. She gets around if you have money. And if you have a land-line, she is a bit of a stalker during GOTV season, calling most nights right in the middle of dinner.
Despite these foibles, what drew me to the GOP, initially, was her platform. What she stood for. On paper, she wore the perfume of adherence to the Constitution. She dressed modestly in the principles of limited government. It was almost too much.
(Disclaimer: I recognize in these politically correct times, that personalizing the GOP as a female may offend readers. Please feel free to do as Bruce Jenner does, and imagine/identify the GOP as whatever gender you wish, for purposes of enjoying this article.)
The GOP came from a good family. Her great-great-grandfather was Abraham Lincoln. Father figures Calvin Coolidge, Robert Taft, Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan would always come around at the right time, to remind her not to stray too far from her pro-liberty origins. And more recently, crazy uncle Ron Paul, would bring out the best in her, and cast a vision of beauty that re-inspired real conservative devotion from folks that grew tired of her wandering eyes.
But those GOP eyes did wander. As long as I’ve known her, she’s been downright unfaithful on a host of issues. Let’s take a romantic drive down memory lane on the party that refers to itself as fiscally and socially conservative.
The Big One – Our National Debt
My old sweetheart would routinely berate President Obama over the size of the national debt. I cheered her on with love goggles. Yet, this past January every Republican senator except Rand Paul voted on a concurrent budget resolution that authorized $10 trillion dollars in new debt.
This isn’t a new thing either. President George W. Bush added the second‑greatest amount to the debt, at $5.849 trillion during his two terms in office.
And I thought our platform clearly states: “that government, at every level, has grown too large….”
Education – The Future of Our Children
Who can be too upset about the national debt when my lady love clearly endorses state and local control of education per the Constitution; she embraces school choice.
From 2002 to 2006 — the period when the Republican Party had control of both the White House and Congress, and abolishing the Department of Education was possible, the GOP increased Department of Education’s spending by 130 percent.
That’s right. During the Bush years, federal—and not state control—was advocated though the “No Child Left Behind” program. The Department received its largest budget ever under GOP leadership, totaling 111 billion dollars in 2006.
Not to worry. That’s just two… really… important… things. And as Pat Benatar said, “Love is a Battlefield.” So, let’s regroup and focus on all the things that unite us. Like Obamacare!
Didn’t a conservative Supreme Court Justice named John Roberts, appointed by Bush and approved by the Senate, cast the deciding vote on the Obamacare disaster?
What about efforts to repeal? It’s tied to that of a budget resolution mentioned above adding 10 trillion dollars to the national debt.
Ok. Deep breath. I am starting to lose my composure and credibility. What now? When in doubt, let’s focus on the family. We’re pro-life! Surely my old flame has a legislative history fighting for the unborn to be proud of…. right? Right?
Life and Family Issues
The Sanctity of Life Act was introduced by Ron Paul in 2006 (again, from 2002 to 2006 — the GOP had control of both the White House and Congress), which if passed, would have defined human life and legal personhood as beginning at conception, effectively overturning Roe v. Wade overnight. The bill would have only required a simple majority vote. The Act would have further amended the federal judicial code to remove Supreme Court and district court jurisdiction over the matter. Boom. Well done GOP! What a sophisticated solution in a battle pro-lifers have been losing for decades.
Er, wait a second —the Republican controlled Congress and Republican elected President let the bill expire in subcommittee—never voting on the matter.
You have got to be freaking kidding me.
I can’t go on. I could address other blatant examples of hypocrisy concerning the object of my affection and the actions of our elected leadership over the years, but I think you get the point.
II. The Other Girl — AKA “The Democratic Party”
Now, I know what many of you are thinking. “David, you have no self-respect for letting the GOP cheat on you for this long.” I know. That’s why I’m writing this. But in my defense, I was about to break up with the GOP in 2006, but she gave me this sincere line about being really concerned about the national debt, and I gave her another 200 chances.
Or, perhaps, you aren’t shocked at all, and you are saying to yourself, “Dave, that’s nothing! I dated a girl named ‘the democratic party,’ and she is way worse. She’s super bloated with a gaseous amount of government programs, and her eye twitches nervously if you mention things like ‘the left stopped caring about war when Obama was elected.’”
I countered: “She can’t be all that bad, I mean….”
My imaginary friend cut me off mid-sentence. “Dude, her inability to understand baseline budgeting, or that I, the taxpayer, can’t afford to buy her a bunch of [insert curse word] without refinancing the house is tiresome. Going steady with the democratic party, post John F. Kennedy, is like meeting a midget during a blind date in Juarez. The company is both entertaining and at the same time scary. While it may be tolerable after a few shots of Tequila, ultimately it gets awkward, really fast and you may not make it home alive.”
To my imaginary friend, I said, “That bad, huh?” Thanks for the words of wisdom. But here’s the thing. The democratic party—has not in my lifetime—ever promised to be a beacon of liberty. Call me sappy, but that’s what I’m attracted to. And besides, I already knew I could not bring a drunk Juarez midget home to my mother. Hence, my love problems with the GOP, and the writing of this tome.
Now that we’ve addressed the other girl, let’s move on.
III. The Break-Up
Those first 10 years of our relationship, the GOP blamed me for our problems and argued I wasn’t doing enough. So I tried to spice things up and reignite the flame so to speak by volunteering, walking for candidates, and donating money I didn’t have.
Finally, as a show of my undying love, I went all in and served as a county chairman to grow the party. I think I did that because I hadn’t reached my yearly quota for being truly miserable. But it was all for naught. I was still losing her, so in one last desperate attempt, I tried to make her love me by running as candidate that stuck exclusively to her platform.
The GOP grew tired of my amusing antics. She told me the platform was just a ploy to dupe, quote-unquote, “virtuous” types. That the name of the game is power, and only those that wield it are important. The rest of what happened is well documented.
Though I knew our relationship was already dead—the GOP left me.
IV. What About A Whirlwind Romance With ‘The Donald?’
No thanks. He is a really funny guy, but I prefer the genuine limited government types. Before I agitate any of Trump’s supporters reading this, know that my best friend voted for Trump. And he is one of the most well-reasoned, and kind-hearted persons I have ever met. I respect the reasons why he cast his vote for Trump. Moreover, I have never been a throw-the-baby out-with-the-bath-water-type-of-Republican. I promise you I will be the first person to defend Trump when he is right on a particular issue. For instance, I commend his nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and his appointments of Andrew Puzder, Tom Price, and Scott Pruitt to lead the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and EPA respectively. Those were brilliant pro-free market choices.
I won’t make excuses, however, for Trump’s continued ignorance of separation of powers, the economic stupidity of imposing tariffs, conducting immigration raids in a Hispanic majority state, or his fruitless talk of building a wall by a bankrupt and rioting country on the US-Mexico border. Both congressman Steve Pearce and Governor Martinez have expressed the clear weaknesses of Trump’s immigration solutions.
Finally, I want a President who leads with a reverence for his office, and not an unapologetic “pussy grabber.” I know, high standards, right?
V. Can’t You Just Stay Together For The Kids?
Believe me. I’ve tried. But part of being effective in growing the liberty movement is knowing your battlefield. The immediate battlefield in New Mexico is for the hearts and minds of the millennial voting bloc. You also must have a willing partner to raise the kids right. For the purposes of my next illustration, we’ll call that much-needed partner, “Mother.”
You ask: “Can’t mother and I make this work?” I respond, “Well son, mother embodies a GOP state leadership that is downright hostile to the liberty loving ideology held by almost all younger voters. The importance of issues like internet privacy, illegal surveillance programs, and drug decriminalization are lost on your mother. She is great at command and control grassroots. But spontaneous liberty? She’s seeing a doctor about that.”
My point? With just 31 percent of the registered vote being Republican, there is no pathway to victory in New Mexico with millennials. Add in the Trump phenomena, and you are toast. While Trump is wildly popular among older non-Hispanics, he is anathema to young Hispanic voters.
And I’m supposed to work with your mother to rally millennial voters around Trump for the next 4 to 8 years?
Uh, waiter… check please?
VI. I think I’m Ready to Date Someone New
This Valentine’s Day, how will you rekindle your romance with the cause of liberty?
Perhaps some of you feel the same the way I have and done something unusual like change your voter registration to decline to state. Maybe you researched the Constitution or Libertarian Parties? Some of you may have stopped going to GOP meetings and instead visited a Tea Party function while mulling over your options.
Me? In September of 2016, I painfully separated from my GOP paramour of false conservatism. And not because I have changed. I mean truly, it’s not me. It’s you.
I threw my support behind former Governor Gary Johnson as President over the likes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Now, I know Gary Johnson may not be as flashy as the GOP. He had hard time getting on the debate stage. He’s the awkward girl at the social, with Carlton Banks dance moves. We don’t agree on some important issues. But he loves liberty, has a got a heart of gold, and more significantly, he has never lied to me.
My separation ultimately ended in divorce, and I have resolved to advance the cause of constitutional conservatism through the Libertarian Party (“LP”) rather than the GOP. Because after what you just read, why the hell not?
My decision was not easy. Being a former GOP county chairman and candidate, I received texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls from several persons I hold dear; cautioning me from making the switch. I’m sure by the same token, many establishment types wished me good riddance, or feel relieved I won’t be running in a primary against them. While I have had my share of struggles with state leadership, by and large, my experience with everyday Republicans was very positive. I also found most were as jaded as I was, but they do not believe there is a viable third party alternative.
Ultimately, my friends could not persuade me. And not because they did not have valid points. But, it was self-evident that many of those who did not want me to leave the GOP simply had fears that they could not do what I was doing. That their political lives would be counted as wasted if they jumped ship now even though they would readily admit to having little success in marshaling the GOP towards its limited government roots.
Some good friends of mine have labored upwards of forty to fifty years within the party.
My divorce with the GOP had to happen. I’ve had a vision of one day waking up, taking the place of my forbearers, and pleading with the next generation by saying: “don’t leave! We’re almost there… if we can just control the [insert branch of government] we can turn this around. No you say? Well, if we don’t win, it’s your fault! Now get off my lawn hippy! Wait. Before you leave, have you seen my Metamucil and crossword puzzle anywhere?”
Some of you may be nodding in agreement by now. But it begs the question, how does that make the case for joining the Libertarian Party? It doesn’t. I’m a pro-life Christian who won’t budge on the issue of abortion. Even worse, I’m a Presbyterian, meaning I have no natural rhythm and fear singing hymns publicly.
But I’m willing to go on a date with the LP and see if there can be a future.
To keep the discussion going, the New Mexico Politico will check the Liberty mailbag this week, where I will attempt to answer, ponder, or potentially struggle with our reader’s biggest objections to libertarianism, or its application in politics. You got tough questions? Let’s hear them by sending them to email@example.com.