A Republican revolution in Kentucky
From 2000 to 2008, I was politically homeless. As a conservative I would’ve liked to have been a part of the Republican Party, but there was simply no conservatism in the GOP at the time. It was the Republican Party of Bush, Cheney, war, torture and executive orders, and it was anti-Constitution and anti-civil liberties. Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were nowhere to be found. No Child Left Behind and Medicare Plan D were front and center. The traditional conservatism of the Founding Fathers, Robert Taft and Russell Kirk didn’t exist beyond my bookshelf. The world-police and nation-building policies of Woodrow Wilson and the New Deal socialism of Franklin Roosevelt had become “conservative.” For constitutionalists and limited-government advocates, it sucked. Bad.
The presidency of big-government Barack Obama, who now leads the party of war, torture and executive orders, and has even upped the ante on Bush with his anti-Constitution and anti-civil liberties policies, has been a time of reflection for conservatives. It has also been a time of rejection — of what they deemed “conservative” just a few short years ago.
Tuesday, Thomas Massie won the Republican nomination in Kentucky’s Fourth Congressional District. He won by a huge 16-point margin. For most of the right-wing media this wasn’t a huge deal. It was simply another Republican winning: Democrats are bad and Republicans are good, therefore this win must be good. Partisanship intact. Move along. Did you know Obama wants gays to get married? And he ate dog!
But for those who care about what the Republican Party actually stands for, this was a revolutionary victory. Massie is a fiscal hawk who wants to balance the budget now, not decades from now. He wants to audit and potentially abolish the Federal Reserve. He wants to get rid of the Department of Education and other federal departments. A strict constitutionalist, Massie supports not only the Second and Tenth Amendments, but the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, hence his opposition to the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act’s indefinite detainment provisions. Massie believes in a strong national defense — which means using our military only for America’s actual defense and only when absolutely necessary, no policing the world or nation-building. Massie was the tea party’s candidate and the establishment’s headache. He was endorsed by Congressman Ron Paul and is considered a protégé of Senator Rand Paul.
And to Kentucky voters Tuesday, he was deemed not only the best candidate, but the most conservative Republican. This is amazing. From 2000 to 2008, Massie wouldn’t even have been considered a Republican, much less a conservative one. In fact, he wouldn’t even have been considered at all — much less win the GOP nomination.
Massie stands against everything that was considered “conservative” when Bush’s GOP defined that term — in both domestic and foreign policy — and yet today Massie is considered a conservative tea party “extremist” by liberals and Republican hacks alike. Massie’s primary opponent, establishment choice Alecia Webb-Edgington, tried to attack Massie on precisely these grounds, stressing that she was in no way a “libertarian” like Massie, but a real “Republican.” She was right. Unlike Massie, Webb-Edgington would’ve likely spent as much money as Bush, ripped the Constitution to shreds and abused the members of our military by sending them across the globe for no discernible reason. Watching her stump speech, I thought it was 2005 and she was a female Lindsey Graham. In the end, her “Republican” party was rejected in a landslide.
The heavily Republican tilt of Massie’s district bodes well for him in the general election, but he isn’t the only successful constitutional conservative running for office. In addition to the Pauls’ influence, there is rising political star Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate Kurt Bills of Minnesota and a slew of similar liberty-minded candidates running for local, state and national offices this year and beyond.
All conservatives want to change the policies that are harming America. But actually achieving this will require changing the Republican Party. This is what makes a Republican like Massie so exemplary. Sure, lots of Republicans say they want to cut spending and return to the Constitution. Some of them are serious about it. But until such Republicans directly address the contradiction of having one foot stuck in Bush’s GOP while simultaneously trying to be limited-government tea partiers, their politics will never match their rhetoric. You can’t be a “constitutionalist” and not support the Fourth Amendment. This is not logical. You can’t claim you want to balance the budget by eliminating our $1 trillion deficit but still want to spend $1.2 trillion annually overseas. This is not mathematical. You can’t be for “limited government” and yet for limitless government power to enforce things you happen to like. This is not conservative.
To the degree that the Republican Party remains that of Bush (see John McCain and Mitt Romney), it will remain nothing more than the GOP version of the Democratic Party it pretends to abhor. But to the degree that Republicans reject their big-government recent past, as Kentucky voters did this week, there will finally be an opposition party. There will finally be a conservative party. And taking America back begins with Republicans taking a hard look at what they should be.
Jack Hunter (also known by his radio moniker the “Southern Avenger”) is a frequent guest on Fox Business, Michael Savage’s nationally syndicated radio program “The Savage Nation” and a frequent guest host on The Mike Church Show on Sirius XM. Hunter is the co-author of “The Tea Party Goes to Washington” by Sen. Rand Paul, assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his book “Now or Never: How to Save America from Economic Collapse” and writes the Paulitical Ticker blog for the Ron Paul 2012 Campaign.