All this posturing from Stewart boosters about how they are “owed” and demanding concessions from the victors in order to get them back into the fold?
Screw ’em. That’s right — screw ’em all.
In 2004, we sold our souls to these bastards in an effort to define the Republican Party in the post 9/11 era. In exchange, we sloughed off the old Reagan-era conservative + libertarian fusionism… all in an effort to win one stinkin’ election — and it was this mistake that haunts us today.
It backfired in 2006 as the Democrats knew their own and brought them back into the fold — populists who stemmed from a progressive tradition stretching back to the 1940s America First crowds huddled around Charles Lindbergh and Fr. Coughlin, and back further still to the 1920’s progressives dominating such organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and Planned Parenthood.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture from the floor of the 1924 Democratic Convention:
Don’t let that wad of moral self-righteousness get hold of you too quick, Virginia Republicans. After all, picture the 2009 Republican Convention with all those Gasden Flags waving about…
…and now picture a 2017 convention with Corey Stewart supporters waving around just as many Confederate flags (you’re welcome). That’s how close we came to a replay of 1924.
Before Jim Webb made his conversion to the Democratic Party, he was well known in separatist circles and frequently cited by websites such as Lew Rockwell (who if for nothing else curated the eclectic rather than subscribed to the views he excavated).
Even as late as 2017, Webb is lauded by alt-right websites such as Occidental Dissent, which doesn’t even bother hiding the football as to where their sympathies lie.
Fact of the matter is, these same populists voted for Barack Obama in 2008 before getting walloped with Obamacare. In 2010 they rebelled; in 2012 they struck out in an odd alliance with Ron Paul and found the libertarians allergic and even hostile to their brand of “libertarian populism” — and by late 2013 and early 2014?
The alt-right was born.
Some of us warned the Republican Party that the nativists needed to be rejected in toto. We were ignored, and the populists made gains — both in Virginia and elsewhere.
When the populists had finally supplanted the conservatives in 2016 with the rise of Donald Trump as the nominee, no one believed Trump could win… until of course, he did. Yet blinded by our own internal fisticuffs, most Republicans (even today) have no clue that the Democrats are fighting the very problem they themselves inflicted on the GOP — struggling against their own populist/progressive uprising from the far left.
This brings us to today. Ed Gillespie has recently “eked” out a win against Corey Stewart, a close call that will undoubtedly see some beefing up on the staff side in order to prevent a repeat of 2014’s near miss. The problem now, of course, is that Stewart supporters are going to demand their pound of flesh — a coalition that will see their movement enshrined in Virginia politics for the next eight years.
Gillespie would be wise to tell them to go straight to hell. Here’s why:
The very existence of the alt-right makes it nearly impossible for the Republican Party to embrace different cultures and ethnicities while extreme factions attempt to take over the party. That is not what Jack Kemp meant by “big tent” party. The former thinking is antithetical to the free exchange of ideas the Republican party should champion. Yet, we remain hopeful that the party can still embrace modernity while still being relevant and true to the principles that attracted us to the party in the first place such as inalienable rights, limited government, and fiscal responsibility to name a few. The idea is a “big tent” party is imperative for the party if it is to exist as a unified body into the next century.
Singleton and Driskell’s op-ed in The Hill shows the path forward. So long as conservatives are too lazy to fight for a renewal of conservative energy in a post-Trump Republican Party, and so long as we recline into the arms of those who do not share our values nor share our vision for a free America — we will lose, if for no other reason than we are telling thousands of minorities that the 150,000 populists are more important than the 8 million Virginians so hungry for leadership they were willing to let the likes of Perriello and Stewart vie for leadership.
Republicans don’t need the populists to win. We don’t need Jim Webb supporters to carry elections in Virginia — that ship sailed in 2006, and the sooner we realize this, the sooner we can move past the mewling and whining of “addition by subtraction” and get to a point where we can actually have some addition by addition for a change.
What we do need are the hundreds of thousands of liberty voters who used to be a part of the Tea Party to come back to the ranks. To tell the folks who hold liberty and constitution dear to their hearts that the Republican Party is open to them regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or background. That we don’t have to be globalists or nationalists, but patriots. Bring back the old fusionism Ronald Reagan turned into a warhorse for the conservative cause — guys like Jack Kemp and Rand Paul.
What we don’t need are the likes of Jim Webb and Corey Stewart. What we absolutely don’t need is to turn the alt-right in Virginia into an eight-year movement that has to be fought every two years.
The sad history of intolerance and oppression isn’t in the tradition of the Republican Party. The Republican Party that ended slavery, fought Jim Crow, fought segregation, passed the first civil rights act, fought the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, fought for welfare reform, fought for expanded opportunities and entrepreneurship in our inner cities, fought Democratic-led Massive Resistance and the KKK again in the 1960s, brought the Soviet Empire to its knees, and after winning the Cold War unleashed our free market in the single greatest lifting of humanity from poverty in the history of the known world.
Just like that, the fog clears — doesn’t it? Roughly 50% of Virginians didn’t vote in the primary, and most of those were Republican voters. Do we sell ourselves short for 150,000 Webb supporters? Or do we do something remarkable and renew the spirit of the Republican Party and chase those 500,000 liberty voters (Riggleman voters?) that have sat on their hands since 2012?
Populism has no home in the modern Republican Party. Leave them where they belong… at the 1924 Democratic National Convention.
If we want to free ourselves and return to our roots, then reaching out to the liberty movement (the actual movement, not the pretended leaders) is the best move on the chessboard.