On Staying Loyal To a Political Party (Which Way Forward for Conservatives?)

Barb Wire

There are some people who are diehard political party loyalists. They will stay with their party to the death, even if it goes off the rails. I am not thrilled with such folks. Parties can and do change, and sometimes the best thing we can do is reconsider our support for a party if it betrays its core principles and values.

And as a Christian I believe our only ultimate and absolute loyalty should go to Jesus Christ anyway. No man, no party, and no human ideology should take our supreme loyalty and commitment. Sure, as they more or less align themselves with God and his values, we can more or less align ourselves with them.

But no political party can command an undeviating and unquestioning loyalty. With that in mind, let me offer a few thoughts on how conservatives might proceed in light of the recent Liberal Party coup. And I make no claims to being a great political strategist, or expert on all things political – especially regarding Australian politics.

Let me begin by noting that most Western nations tend to have various versions of a two-party system, with a main leftist party and a main conservative party. Sometimes there can be various main parties, and/or various coalition arrangements as well.

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Here I want to look primarily at the two-party system as found in Australia and America. The events of the past week in Canberra have of course once again raised some issues here big time. We had one of the more conservative Liberal/National Coalition Prime Ministers stabbed in the back by 54 of his own.

But even worse yet, he was replaced not by another conservative (which would be most fitting for a conservative party I would have thought), but by one of the most leftist, Labor-like, pro-homosexuality, pro-carbon tax, pro-Islam guys around! That is the really shocking thing.

A majority of these guys actually decided that dumping a genuine conservative and replacing him with a genuine lefty (who would fit far better in the Labor Party) was the sensible direction to proceed in! My mind is still reeling at this. This really seems to be the end of the Liberal Party, unless some drastic changes are made, and soon.

Part of the problem is that so much of politics in the West is shifting leftwards. First of all, the leftist parties are going even further left. Witness what Labour in the UK just did by making Jeremy Corbyn its new leader. Shocking! And the US Democrats have people like Hillary Clinton, and nutter socialists like Bernie Sanders (who actually praises Corbyn), seeking to become President.

But it is not just the lefties heading further left. Into the vacuum the conservative parties are moving further left as well. Instead of staying where they belong, they too slide leftwards, seeking to fill the ‘middle, moderate ground’. But all they are doing is abandoning their conservatism and becoming more like what the left parties once were.

Many of the traitors here in Australia would have had that as their goal: get rid of the religious conservative Abbott and run with a secular lefty to be more ‘acceptable’ and more likely to win an election. Yeah right. We don’t need two Labor parties thanks. One is more than enough.

But many are still defending the Libs, insisting that Labor is worse, and we must stay with the Libs no matter what. Now at times I have argued the same thing. For example, concerning the two main parties in the US, I have said this is not about two identical parties, but about rather differing parties – or at best, about choosing the lesser of two evils.

I still argue that while the Dems are real bad news, there is a bit of hope yet with the Republicans. While the former has abortion on demand and all things homosexual as part of their party platform, the Republicans do not. That is a very real and significant difference indeed.

And if a genuine conservative such as Cruz or Jindal can win the nomination, and take on the RINOs and the Republican establishment, then perhaps the GOP will actually even get better – i.e., more consistently conservative and true to its roots.

But with Turnbull and his band of treacherous men in charge of the Libs here, I cannot say this as I once would have. Yes Labor has a lot of bad official policies and platforms which the Libs may not have, but for how long will that be the case under someone like Turnbull?

Remember, the majority of these guys ditched Abbott and actually sided with leftist Turnbull. How many of them can be counted on for anything worthwhile in the days ahead? That is a fair question. Yes, there are 44 others who stood bravely for Abbott.

But even some of them are now considering jumping ship, such as conservative heavyweight Cory Bernardi from South Australia. He and others may be right to do so. Indeed, some are even talking about taking these 44 and forming a new, genuine conservative party, perhaps with Tony at the helm.

And if the various smaller Christian and pro-family parties joined in to some degree, that could make for a viable option. That is not something I am here necessarily calling for, but simply raising as a moot point. But the simple truth is, with a new leader who would fit in nicely with Labor leading the conservatives, things are looking very grim indeed.

As to most Liberals, I could say I would far prefer them than a Bill Shorten or some other Labor leader. But to be honest, with Turnbull I am having a hard time indeed bringing myself to say that. Not only is he a Labor lookalike when it comes to so many moral and social issues, but in some ways he could be worse.

We expect leftist leaders to do lousy leftist things. But when so-called conservative leaders do lousy leftist things, that is really bad news indeed. So while there are many conservatives who I hear saying we must not abandon the Libs, because Labor is far worse, I am not so sure anymore.

Do not get me wrong; I do not like Labor and I do not want them to get back in. But it seems we can say that the Libs have already been abandoned – by Turnbull and his band of merry betrayers. While not too long ago I would also have claimed that we must not make a moral equivalence between the Liberals and Labor, now I cannot so easily do so.

Thus I will not blame folks if they finally leave the Coalition and join the smaller conservative parties. I don’t blame them at all, and I hope these parties do well and get more folks elected into parliament. I certainly can understand why they may have had enough of the Libs.

I realise that when conservatives depart from the main conservative party in a primarily two-party system, the main leftist party is much more likely to win. When a conservative independent runs (as for example Ross Perot did in 1992 in America), it tends to split the conservative vote and allows the other side to win.

I am well aware of the dangers of this. But let’s be honest and realistic here: if the Libs end up simply being a pale imitation of Labor, then what is the point of staying on at all costs? If getting another Liberal government in at the next election simply means having most of the same wretched policies and agenda items as Labor has, then why should I want to see them get re-elected?

Sure, many Libs would say now is not the time to leave. Instead, they will argue, we need even more conservative supporters in the Party, and we need to once again take control. That may be an option indeed, and it may work. Hopefully. But I can fully understand the many Liberal voters I heard from this week who said they have had a gutful, and are pulling out.

I am a Christian and a conservative. I want genuine conservative parties to get in. If the Libs have decided that they no longer want to be conservative, then I have to think seriously about where else I might go, and who else I might cast my vote for.

At the end of the day my ultimate allegiance and loyalty is to Jesus Christ and his values. While no politician or political party will fully match or reflect such values, there will be some who are closer than others. They will tend to get my vote.

And of course with Australia’s preferencing system, there are always more than one option here. If say, a Bernardi defected and either ran as an independent, or started another party, and if I lived in SA I would almost certainly vote for him, and if others could be preferenced, then I would consider who would next get my vote.

So I certainly understand those conservative Coalition supporters who are urging us all to remain on board, and not allow Labor to get in by abandoning ship. Up until recently I basically felt the same way. But the horrible events of this week, and the treasonous behaviour of so many Libs now has me doing a bit of a rethinking here.

No I do not want Labor in again. But if the Libs insist on mirroring most of what Labor is on about, then to be honest I don’t really want them back in either. That is not ideal I know, but in a fallen world there are no purely ideal options. We make do with what we have.

And that may mean putting principle ahead of a political party. It may mean voting for someone or some party that may not win, but nonetheless are the right ones to vote for. These are just my two cent’s worth on this. Some will hate me for saying it. Some not.

But in the current political climate, I think it is incumbent upon all Christians – especially conservative Christians – to at least reassess, rethink, and pray even further about the way forward.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Bill Muehlenberg
Bill Muehlenberg, who was born in America, lives in Melbourne, Australia. He runs a web-based ministry of pro-faith, pro-family activism called CultureWatch: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com. Bill is widely sought out by the media for comments on social issues, faith issues, and family issues, and has appeared on all the major television and radio news shows, current affairs shows, and debate programs. He is the author of In Defence of the Family; Strained Relations: The Challenge of Homosexuality, and several other books.

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