This rather benign definition, “people with shared concerns” conceals a darker side. It fails to tell us the secret within, “how a minority of a minority can subvert long-standing institutions suppressing the will of the majority.” Today’s Republican Party bears little resemblance to the party I joined fifty years ago. Certainly the Alt-Right movement must be the exact opposite; a parasitic caucus, it gains nourishment feeding off the guts of its unwitting host, the once proud Republican Party. To understand this vulnerability you have to look at its history. For most of the twentieth century the Republican Party has been comprised of a hodgepodge of divergent ideals few of which represented majority opinions on their own. Only through this confederation where we agree to support each other has the party been able to push its agendas forward. It’s been more culture-based than science-based and frankly quite “bossy”, telling us how we should live our lives has reached the point of annoyance. Now you’re probably wondering why I’m still a Republican or if in fact I am still a Republican. I guess you’ll have to read on.
A disruptive caucus is usually a small caucus within a caucus where a few members hold their votes for a ransom leaving the main caucus or party no choice but to give in to their demands. It turns out that such endearing names as “the gang of eight” may be more descriptive than intended. It’s not that hard to see the similarities between a Congressional caucus and a street gang on Chicago’s south side (sorry Chicago). “If you’re not in a gang you’re nobody” applies equally well to both. If you don’t join a gang you’re vulnerable. Street gangs are sometimes formed for noble causes like protecting the neighborhood, but end up doing drive-by shootings and selling drugs to school children, not unlike politicians threatening to throw millions off the health insurance rolls when their original goal was perhaps a worthy cause now long forgotten. What makes a caucus a gang is when they go beyond shared concerns and passions to fall in line behind the perceived will of the group. Usually orchestrated by a leader whose goal is to prop up his own authority, this process may take the gang in directions never imagined by any of its members. In short, “you must vote with the gang or simply be another nobody.”
While the Republican Party, is awash with self-described conservative caucuses, perhaps Steve Bannon and his “war” on establishment Republicans who won’t abandon McConnell best demonstrates how this “divide and conquer” strategy works; demand loyalty from your gang and undermine loyalty of opposing gangs. This fracturing of the Republican Party makes it vulnerable to further attacks from the inside, both good and bad. Attacks from the outside (Democrats or the press) seem to have little impact. Whether like me your goal is to fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party or you want to destroy it, we have the same dog in the fight, “restoring the cultural norms, traditions and morality that made this country great.” It’s not that there isn’t any more “fight in the dog”; we just need to unleash him.
The evidence is clear that the best way to do this is to form a disruptive caucus of our own. The “America First” movement has proved to be anything but for the Republican Party. Time after time our Republicans in Congress have put party over country. I think it appropriate to call a counter-offensive the “Party Second” movement because that’s truly the only way to put America first. The movement must be one that responds to any party who forgets the country comes first; at the moment it’s the GOP that needs our help.
Our obligation is to penetrate the primaries to assure the parties select candidates who honor these traditions. This may mean registering with a party that shares few of our views; it doesn’t mean you must vote for the candidate that party selects. It probably makes it more likely though. I know what you’re thinking, “This is an impossible task.” Before you jump to this conclusion let’s do the math.
First of all there are lots of moderate Republicans and even a few liberal ones. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but that’s because we don’t have a caucus so “we’re just a bunch of nobodies.” The fact that there are a lot of moderates is in fact a problem since there will be a lot of good potential candidates to split the moderate votes. This is not a common problem for the Alt-Right, after all how many Roy Moore’s can there be to choose from. The whole purpose of a caucus is to vote among yourselves on the best candidate and in exchange for the privilege you agree to vote with the caucus.
Registered Republicans make up less than 30% of all voters so if they do go to war they will be battling for a 15% plurality. Registered Independents as of last January make up 44% of registered voters. Polls show that more and more voters are becoming Independents because they can’t stomach either of the polar extremes, of course leaving the residuals even more extreme than before. And it is these extremes that set the table for the rest of us. If you’re an Independent and tired of the choice between raw liver and fried roaches, maybe it’s time to tell the cooks.
The fact that we’re not welcome to help set the table is exactly why we must. No party will refuse to register you as a member, tell you how you must vote or ask your motives but don’t be afraid to tell them you want to restore our cultural norms and long-standing traditions. That’s the best way to recruit moderates from the Republican Party. I would hope we can get 20% of Independents, 15% of Republicans and 10% of Democrats behind the “Party Second Caucus” by 2020 as I know there are many of us of all persuasions who want to restore both sanity and honored traditions to government.
I need your ideas on how we can organize this movement so I have set up a Facebook page to discuss this and to call out every politician who has put his “Party First” over Country. Search for “Party Second Caucus” on Facebook.