Yesterday, I spent a considerable portion of my "free time" doing what every good college student should do -- procrastinating on important homework by debating viable presidential candidates for 2016.
...I know - nerd, right?
Regardless, the idea that kept returning to haunt me is the fact that the GOP has no real foundation anymore - republicans don't know what they stand for. The establishment, for example, wants to win elections, and thus will run moderate RINO's in order to draw the centrist vote. Not a terrible idea, from a pragmatic perspective. On the flip side, however, the hyper-conservative side of the spectrum is radically opposed to any moderate candidate for fear of "watering down" the republican message and misrepresenting the party. That makes sense, too. And this is the conundrum facing the GOP today.
Now, I already spent some time breaking down what I feel is the best course of action for Republicans moving toward 2016 and beyond -returning to the party platform, offering clear alternatives the democratic candidates, explaining why we believe what we believe... it's not a terribly difficult task to accomplish, if the party could actually take the time to look for real-world solutions. The difficulty is that right now - they don't. Plain and simple. The Republican Party is being pulled apart between anarchistic-libertarians and liberal RINO's, and neither side has any intention of seeking a parlay.
Given this understanding of politics in America, what real options do Republicans have left?
I'll list three possible futures I see for the party - they may be pretty predictable to some of you, but my hope is that this might be a wake-up call to the rest of us on how we are handling our conservative party.
1. Temporary Collapse of Two-Party System
Way to start out cheerful, right? In all seriousness, however, I don't see this as a terribly extreme option. If we republicans continue on the same path, this is a viable option. Particularly now that democrats are pushing "civil rights" issues and hospitality to illegal immigrants. Eventually the centrists will abandon the republicans for being "traditionalist" and "out of touch" with the 21st Century. The Republican party will no longer be able to maintain itself. Libertarians will attract economic conservatives away from the main base, remaining "relevant" for their more liberal social views, while social conservatives will be marginalized at best. This could lead to either a multi-party system, or it could lead to one-party (democratic) rule for years to come.
Now, before you take me as a "radical left-winger" for what I just said, let me explain - I am a social & economic conservative - I think it is possible to believe in limited government, while preserving the American identity and moral basis for law. In fact, I think this union is vital to the sustainability of free government. What I am pointing out are plausible outcomes if Republicans fail to recognize our own inability to communicate the "Why?" behind our opposition to liberal policies. "Because gays are immoral" is not a valid policy reason for supporting traditional marriage - there are valid reasons, but that is not one that will be accepted by the centrist vote.
2. Re-arrangement of RNC platform
This would essentially be what the Left is urging the Republican Party to do - realign on more liberal values in order to remain a relevant alternative to far-left policies. I think this is possible, but perhaps not as likely as the first option. For one, regardless of how pragmatic the establishment of the party is, the main base of the party (evangelicals, neo-cons, fiscal-cons) will never approve - they will fight this every step of the way. So, should this become implemented, the odds are that a large base of the party will walk away to third-parties, and we'll see one-party rule for several years.
3. Improved Communication
This is my preferred future - but I think it is possible only if the establishment is rooted out or highly pressured by constituents. This option would be a return to the RNC platform and an emphasis on educating people on the rationale for our beliefs. If this were to be embraced, it might mean democratic-rule for 4-6 years, but it would allow for a better established conservative party in the long run.
As I already said before, though, this is not a likely option unless the GOP genuinely recognizes that it has lost credibility in public policy and takes actual steps toward addressing the issue.
Bonus option! Economic and Societal Apocalypse
This is a nod to some of my libertarian and realist friends who feel that, regardless of what the RNC does, the nation is heading toward economic collapse, rupturing of the moral fabric of the nation, and diminished status in international affairs. Any last-minute maneuvering is merely political posturing that will have no real affect on the fate of the nation. Is this possible? - Most definitely. Is it Probable? That's a discussion for another time :)
So these are a few of the options I see for the GOP in the coming months, years, and decades. You might have different options, or even different possible outcomes from the above options - hey, it's the future - nothing is concrete. Please, feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
In the end, what I believe most certainly is - there are difficult times ahead for conservatives. But hard times can be a blessing as much as a curse - maybe some trials will actually help bring the nation around to a more receptive attitude toward conservative values. Anything is possible. Regardless, I can say with sincerity and conviction, despite the uncertainty of the future - America is still the greatest nation on God's earth, and I pray that God would continue to bless the United States of America.