Many conservatives rightly fear modern liberal ideology, with its tendencies toward suppression of speech, disdain of religious liberty, dismissal of the transcendent, and self-righteous disregard of many traditional beliefs and practices. As a result, many anti-Trump conservatives still believe that Republicans are the lesser evil in countering the Democratic leviathan. This is an understandable view, but unfortunately, it is not an adequate response to the challenge facing conservative principles.
Just as Republicans have been moving resolutely toward the fringe on the right, so Democrats have been marching further and further to the left. But while Democratic leaders argue about who is more progressive, extreme liberal positions are less popular among average Americans. For example, most Americans are turned off by the excesses of political correctness, regardless of the practice of liberal elites.
Such extremes clearly produced a backlash in the short-term (evident by Donald Trump’s election), but in the long-term, the culture is in fact heading towards the liberal vision of society. Millennials and younger generations are increasingly liberal, especially on issues primarily related to religious beliefs, because liberal assumptions have deeply permeated Western culture (e.g., subjective morality, the mainstreaming of the sexual revolution, the physical sciences as the ultimate guide to truth, the assumption of economic prosperity as the basis of fulfillment (also happily imbibed by the Right), etc.). When the Baby Boomers are no longer with us, liberalism will reign supreme in America.
…unless an opposition worldview emerges that can challenge the liberal vision to maintain some sort of equilibrium. American institutions are strong, and so there is hope yet for the resurgence of counterbalancing forces, but as I have already discussed, the Republican Party has sacrificed its integrity and is no longer capable of being that needed counterbalance. In fact, not only has the GOP demolished its moral foundations, but it too is embracing many of the problematic assumptions of liberalism under Trump (subjective morality being the most important).
I say all of this because I agree with many Republicans that the liberal vision of America is perilous, and I do not want it to dominate our nation in the long-term. But I still think nothing would be more salutary for our political climate than if Democrats win big next week and in the 2020 presidential election.
The way Democrats win matters
In order for a renewed conservative party to rise from the ashes of the Republican Party, the existing Republican approach must be shown to be not just immoral, but also ineffective. If Democrats win next week, but not convincingly, the Republican base will likely maintain belief in Trumpian politics and continue to use it, possibly even re-electing Trump in two years. Eventually this will lead to the first scenario I described previously, where the worst habits of the Republicans are entrenched, and the moral contradictions of the party will rule out any lasting change on moral issues such as abortion.
If Democrats win big, however, especially in the next Presidential election, then perhaps there is hope. In such a case, the pragmatic imperative to win would again assert itself within the Republican Party. Trump’s approach will be shown to have failed to maintain long-term advantage, and the Republicans will have to reconsider what really matters.
Or more likely, Republicans will continue to resist the needed change, but upstart groups will begin to challenge the Republicans for the mantle of a more principled conservatism. Most such groups will fail, but maybe, just maybe, one of them will not. It will probably take years, but if a truly conservative party were to challenge and upend the Republican Party, then there might be a chance in the long-run to effect meaningful change on conservative moral causes, including abortion.
In other words, the Republican Party must not just suffer a minor setback; it must be completely repudiated. I do not say this lightly. As a conservative, I am very hesitant to advocate for the destruction of anything that has come down to us with such a lengthy and admirable pedigree. But the current Republican Party departs entirely from the conservative examples laid out by Edmund Burke, John Adams, and other giants. Nothing is more unjust and deserving of destruction than a worldview claiming righteousness while actually leading to ruin.
The winds of liberalism are blowing stronger every day, and the existing Republican house will not be able to bear the force. We must build a new structure with foundations strong enough to stand in the midst of a storm. The only way to do that is to offer a compelling vision for the future, founded on inherited wisdom from our forebears, but recognizing that it is both foolish and immoral to try to return to the past, ignoring the needs of the present and the future.