Republican Revolution

Barb Wire

In lengthy discussions on a political website over the past few weeks on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of voting for “moderate” Republicans, I have been surprised to learn of the intensity of hostility that “moderate” Republicans feel for conservatives. They call conservatives “crazy loons,” “whack jobs,” “insane,” “fringe,” “hysterical,” and “homophobic hatemongers.” Yes, they sound remarkably like liberal Democrats.

The occasion of these discussions was the publication of an article in which I suggested that the time has come for conservatives to make their votes count by voting for liberal Democrat Pat Quinn in the Illinois gubernatorial race over the “moderate” Republican Bruce Rauner who has campaigned on his liberal social policies.

I’m proposing this strategy not because I support Quinn’s policies, but because the Republican Party is rapidly abandoning what are dismissively called the “social issues.”

“Moderate” Republicans have deceived gullible, compliant conservatives for years, urging them to call a “truce” (or more accurately, a surrender) on the social issues until our state and federal fiscal house is in order. What “moderate” Republicans didn’t tell their gullible, compliant water-carriers is that they have no intention of ending the truce, because in reality they hold in contempt conservative views on life, marriage, and religious liberty. What many “moderate” Republicans (henceforth referred to as “immoderates”) do care about are conservative votes and money.

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But they won’t care about those for long.

If conservatives don’t want immoderates elected, then they should better ensure they aren’t elected. They can accomplish this by voting for their opponents. Perhaps if the Republican Party sees that they can’t win elections with lousy immoderate candidates, they will find and fund candidates who support the entire Republican Party platform. And then they can harangue and hurl epithets at immoderate Republicans, commanding them to hold their noses and support conservatives who may not be their “perfect” candidates.

What is perhaps most troubling about the views of immoderates is their religious hostility. When conservative commenters dared to refer to God in their comments about the dismantling of marriage or the killing of preborn babies, immoderates would say, “Aha, finally the truth is out. Conservatives extremist fundies want to impose their religious beliefs on the entire country in violation of the separation of church and state.”

Word to immoderates: Conservative people of faith are as fully entitled to have their faith shape decisions regarding elections, laws, and policies as are those who attend liberal churches and synagogues and as those who hold atheistic worldviews. I think Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that lesson.

Again and again, immoderates accused conservatives of demanding only “pure” candidates, which is patent nonsense. This is just another way to ridicule conservatives who believe that issues related to life, marriage, and religious liberty are at least as important as the almighty fiscal issues that single-issue immoderates view as sacred.

Immoderates apparently haven’t noticed that they themselves are guilty of demanding “purity” in their candidates. Would immoderates vote for a candidate who vigorously promoted Republican positions on marriage, preborn life, religious liberty, immigration, gun control, education, healthcare, and national defense, but openly opposed Republican positions on government spending and debt, tax policy, and energy policy?

I would submit that what we’re facing now is a time unique in modern American history and one which demands radical, countercultural action. We’re facing the dismantling of marriage, which poses a real and imminent threat to religious liberty. We’re facing daily the purchasing of DNA by naturally sterile homosexual couples who see nothing wrong with robbing children of their right to be raised by both a mother and a father. And we’re seeing Republicans embrace such pernicious non-sense.

One writer claimed that “the stronger we are, the more Republicans (both conservative and moderates) we can elect throughout the State.” Well, I’ve heard that one before. And every year the Republican Party gets weaker and weaker on issues that are at least as fundamental to the future of Illinois and America as fiscal issues.

We must look beyond the next 4-8 years, and—as immoderates like to harangue conservatives—we must not be single-issue voters. Fiscal matters are not superordinate over tiny human lives, marriage, and religious liberty. Conservatives are foolish to elect men and women who believe the “social issues” take a back-seat to pension and tax reform. Truth be told, immoderates don’t think these issues warrant even a back-seat. Immoderates have shoved them out of the speeding car.

Conservatives should demand that Mark Kirk, Bruce Rauner, Susan Collins, Scott Brown and their fiscal sycophants answer this question: Do you think the Republican Party will become more or less conservative on issues related to life, marriage, and religious liberty if more men and women who share your views are serving in leadership roles within the Republican Party?

Tell us, “truce”-advocates, when does the truce on the “social” issues end and the Republican Party will once again take up the fight to protect human life, marriage, and religious liberty?

The time is diminishing during which conservatives will have any power left. There will come a day when the Republican Party won’t need conservative votes. The stunning fact that this year Republicans in Illinois saw fit to run campaign ads that tout their anti-life, anti-marriage bona fides should be the canary in the coal mine for conservatives.

Despite what one immoderate commenter argued, I and other conservatives who are voting for Quinn are not “poisoning the well.” The well has been poisoned by the poisonous, treasonous beliefs and actions of Mark Kirk, Bruce Rauner, Tom “Double” Cross, and former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party Pat Brady.

Rather, we’re trying to get the anti-dote into the well before the party has ingested too much poison to survive or be worthy of survival.

Conservatives need to inure themselves to the epithet hurled by immoderates that they, conservatives, are part of the “ultra-right.” This is yet another pejorative intended to ridicule those who rightly believe that protecting human life, protecting the rights of children to be raised by a mother and father, protecting marriage, and protecting religious liberty are critical issues.

Moreover, “ultra-right” is a relative term. Not too many years ago, the values and beliefs of what immoderates and their ideological allies, “progressives,” condescendingly refer to as “ultra-right” would have been utterly mainstream. Such a condescending epithet exposes how relativistic the Republican Party is becoming. Richard Weaver has some important things to say about this kind of relativism in his important book Ideas Have Consequences:

Whoever argues for a restoration of values is sooner or later met with the objection that one cannot return, or as the phrase is likely to be, “you can’t turn the clock back.” By thus assuming that we are prisoners of the moment, the objection well reveals the philosophic position of modernism. The believer in truth, on the other hand, is bound to maintain that the things of highest value are not affected by time; otherwise the very concept of truth becomes impossible. In declaring that we wish to recover lost ideals and values, we are looking toward an ontological realm that is timeless.

The contemporary claim that opposition to abortion, support for true marriage, and opposition to the normalization of homosexuality are fringe positions reflects the moral relativism against which Weaver warns. Conservative views are only extreme to a society that has rejected the idea of objective, transcendent moral truth. Remember, less than fifty years ago, support for abortion and affirmation of volitional homosexual acts would have been viewed as radical, far-left, extreme, fringe positions, and a “truce” on the promotion of these views by politicians would have been unthinkable.

Here is my “nutty” argument in a nutshell:

  • I believe that policies on fiscal issues are less important than policies on human life, children’s rights, marriage, and religious liberty.
  • I believe that fiscal policy can be characterized as foolish or wise, but terms like good and evil are far more appropriate when applied to those issues commonly called the “social” issues. A case can be made that huge debt is harmful, but it’s not a moral evil in the same sense and to the same degree as the destruction of human lives or the destruction of marriage or the destruction of religious liberty.
  • I believe that conservatives have to enlarge their vision beyond the next 4, 6, or 8 years. They need to think imaginatively and strategically about the dangerous direction in which the Republican Party is moving—and moving relatively quickly. I think conservatives need to anticipate what the party platform will look like in just a couple of election cycles if we continue to hold our noses and carry rancid water for men and women like Mark Kirk, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Carl DeMaio and Bruce Rauner.
  • We need to think about the ideological effect these men and women have when they’re in power. It’s not just the policies they pursue or ignore. And it’s not just the backroom deals they make. It’s also the conversations they have with other influential Republicans.
  • We need to bear in mind that these men and women are not neutral on issues critical to the future of America. They are antagonistic to efforts to protect preborn lives, to protect marriage, and to protect religious liberty. Most of these men and women are proud of their anti-life, anti-marriage positions. If they are so lacking in wisdom that they don’t recognize how critical marriage is to any society, and if they’re so lacking in wisdom that they don’t recognize that same-sex “marriage” formally endorses the idea that either mothers or fathers are expendable, and if they don’t recognize that religious liberties are daily being attacked, they will never stand up boldly against efforts to deracinate the “social” issues from the Republican Party platform.

One commenter ordered conservatives to “go start your own party.” Until relatively recently, the Republican Party was the party for conservatives. We didn’t change. The party changed. And now those who changed it want us out. After they abandon essential planks of the Republican platform that they don’t like, and after they call conservatives crazy whack jobs, and after they tell conservatives to get out of the party, they have the temerity to say that conservatives are “eating their own” and forming “a circular firing squad.”


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

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins has worked as the Cultural Analyst for the Illinois Family Institute ( since the fall of 2008. Prior to that, she worked full-time in the writing center of a suburban Chicago high school, where all four of her children attended. She is currently working on bulking up her stick arms by dead-lifting her five grandchildren--one at a time, of course.

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