Is there anybody out there who still remembers the Republic primary? You know, that was the part of the political process where we were told early in the game that long-time political moderate Mitt Romney was the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party (apparently because he'd run in the previous election cycle and lost to John McCain, which now made it his turn). Since there was already an established primary process that taxpayers pay for, and in spite of the forgone conclusion of his nomination that the media promised us, someone in the Republican party apparently felt that they should at least go ahead hold these primaries. With due diligence therefore, conservative candidates who at that time thought that Republicans were their party, lined up to take on this presumptive heir to the throne.
From Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, to Ron Paul and Rick Perry of Texas; conservative politicians threw down their gauntlets to compete in oratorical this jousting tourney. Though often wildly greeted by the crowds, these conservatives were often met with skepticism and scorn by a media that challenged their credentials as conservatives, continued assaults on their qualifications to compete in so august a contest against the presumptive heir by their Party, and a fair amount of fear from the powers behind the throne throughout for the conservative ideas they represented. In fact it seemed that these conservatives were apparently being asked to do little more than sacrifice themselves on a state-by-state altar of moderates.
In spite of the sacrificial nature of these conservative campaigns however, the heir apparent was forced to assume a more conservative air in order to compete with party conservatives who were polar opposites to the candidate from Democrats that Republicans wanted to plan their strategies around. With the primaries over however, we watched as this presumptive heir gradually abandoned the move to the right he made as the general election began. He quickly re-established his position back in the center; 'evolving' beyond, if not completely deserting the temporary lean to the right required of the primary season. This reversal became so evident that the heir himself, during the three debates held, many times admitted that he and his far left opponent's views were similar on given subjects. Having failed to distinguish himself from his opponent and likewise failed to energize his party's conservative base, to the utter surprise of his party's faithful and many party pundits ... He lost.
Now that the election is over, the race to the right that other Republicans also made just over year ago has likewise ended. Republican Party leadership, not having achieved the White House or the majority in the Senate that they wanted with the assistance of conservatives (one in which they'd often abandoned conservative principles in part to earn), have seemingly abandoned conservatives altogether. In perhaps some form of vengeance on the conservative voices that they paid lip service to, or in some twisted hope of appeasement to a even more twisted mainstream media, plum committee appointments going into the next session of the House have been purged of incumbent conservative House members. Like the spouse whose looks or money has begun to fail, conservatives are apparently no longer appealing. Perhaps afraid of what they friends will say about who they're hanging around with and realizing that they have some tough battles ahead of them with the fiscal cliff, entitlement reform, and the budget ceiling; Republicans seem more than willing to once again sacrifice their conservative base as a first step of capitulation to their political opponents. With barely the first shot fired and perhaps are uncomfortable with the looks the receive from their erstwhile allies, perhaps they're feeling guilty over seeming ready to concede ground faster than the French in every war they've fought since Napoleon.
What fascinates me in all of this however as a Libertarian living through this process is the mixture of coercion and scorn in which those of a like mind have been handed. We have been all but scolded during the last couple of election cycles that our votes would be wasted if used them for a true Libertarian candidate. We were told that we were wasting our votes if we didn't come back inside the tent and vote for a mainstream Republican candidate that had a chance to win; and would be abandoning the nation to candidates without conservative values. When I look at what seems to constitute a conservative Republican these days and at the recent treatment of real conservatives by the Republican party however; I cannot help but wonder in what way supporting these more moderate candidates (candidates who ultimately lose) is doing for the conservative cause. If the current House purge of conservative committee members is now to be the measure of how conservative beliefs will be treated by Republican leadership, one might even conclude that the 'loyalty' expected of them is doomed to be a loveless one and entirely one-sided.
As a socially moderate, fiscally conservative Libertarian therefore, I'm not sure that I shouldn't begin to treat this party the same way it's currently treating me and my fellow conservatives ..... as an occasional convenience. Quite frankly I can't help but feel like the abused spouse in an old country song. I can hear Marty Robbins singing the chorus from "Love Me Or Leave Me Alone" right now:
If you love me come and stay