Ahoy-hoy, Midwestern Ladies and Gents! After a long break from blogging, I’m back with an existential quandary that’s been haunting my thoughts for the past few days — if I were to run for office someday, could I even consider running as a Republican?
My visceral reaction is “Oh, hell no!” The GOP as it stands today is everything I dislike about politics (and further, the darker parts of humanity in general) — intellectually dishonest, hypocritical, myopic, superficially religious, and disdainful of law and civil liberties. Their program is, as far as I can tell, driven almost exclusively by the desire to hold and wield power for its own sake.
But part of me knows that there are some ideas I subscribe to that would conventionally be considered “conservative” — limited government, balanced budgets, market-based economic policies, freer trade. My “conservative” ideas play out in very “progressive” ways, however, meaning I would not fit well with today’s GOP. For example, I believe limited government requires that government not intrude into whom Americans choose to love and marry, or attempt to legislate morality. My market-based economic ideas arise from the conviction that market-based solutions, on the whole, result in better outcomes for everyone, including the poor.
Knowing that the national Republican Party is not amenable to the progressive slant of my conservative ideas, I nevertheless wonder if there would not be value in running as a Republican to, pardon the hyperbole, “save” the country from a far-right party spinning out of control. By injecting a more moderate view of conservatism (a la presidential candidate Ron Paul) into the party, or at least public discussions of the party, could a “progressive conservative” movement eventually bring the GOP back from the brink? Probably wishful thinking on my part, but an interesting thought experiment.