If Voting Republican Is the Answer, Why Has It Never Worked Before?

A recent article of mine elicited some amusing responses.

That Trump has been inexhaustibly—indeed, obsessively—maligned by dishonest, opportunistic, and mentally unstable partisan hacks is a brute fact that I have spared few occasions to address. For all of his flaws, he is still considered in the abstract infinitely preferable to his successor, and a cut above his most relentless critics.

This, however, is not a high bar to surmount. Joe Biden, both personally and as occupant of the White House, is demonstrably rotten. The same can be said for most of those who made Trump-bashing the mission of their lives from virtually the time he launched his campaign to the present moment.

Still, just because Trump made enemies of demented ideologues doesn’t mean that he isn’t deserving of honest and sober criticism himself. Too few Republican, “Ultra-MAGA” voters are willing to consider his unrealized potential, and unforced errors. Mesmerized by the Trump mystique, millions have permitted themselves to be hypnotized into thinking that all that went wrong on Trump’s watch is no fault of his own, and that if not for the plethora of forces that were aligned against him, he would’ve been able to truly make America great again.

MAGA voters have allowed themselves to be conditioned to vote for an America First agenda while simultaneously accepting that it cannot be brought to fruition given the bottomless depths of “the Swamp.” These traditional GOP voters have been living with this kind of contradiction for as long as they’ve been voting for the Republican Party.

Is the Left Better Off Now Than It Was?

Long before Trump, Republican politicians and their apologists in the establishment conservative media labored indefatigably to convince their constituents that, come what may, the GOP would “save the country” from the ravages of the excessive Left. The “Reagan Revolution,” the “Contract with America,” the “Moral Majority,” “Compassionate Conservatism,” the “Tea Party,” and, now, MAGA—these are the media concoctions, the theatrical props, the bright and shiny things that traditional Republican voters have been manipulated into believing for decades. It’s ultimately the same concept repackaged for a new generation under a different label. 

The idea that there is a rock-ribbed, true-blue conservative or patriotic contingent, separate from and opposed to “the establishment,” promising to pull America back from the precipice of destruction on which she stands has been the GOP’s bread and butter for decades. Every election is “the most important election of our lifetime.” 

Republican voters should pause and ask themselves a question that never seem to get thoroughly explored: To paraphrase Reagan’s query from 1980:

Is the Left more or less powerful in 2022 than they’ve been in the past?

The answer is a foregone conclusion.

Shockingly, Historically Unprecedented Advances To the Left

The Left-Right paradigm within which American politics plays out is itself a function of the collective delusion from which Republican and Democratic voters alike suffer. Still, for present purposes, we’ll speak the conventional language and say that it’s difficult to conceive of a single front on which “the Left” hasn’t made considerable advances.

In some cases, particularly over the last couple of years, during the COVID era, the Left made shockingly, historically unprecedented advances.

So, why exactly is it that those who have always voted Republican should continue doing so?

How, exactly, does voting Republican amount to “fighting the Left?”

The contradiction at the heart of MAGA points to a more fundamental contradiction in the so-called conservative movement: supporting candidates, and a party that not only fails to deliver, but can’t deliver.

Trump tried his best, but had too many powerful forces with which to contend and that ultimately thwarted his plans.

Republicans gain the House, but then tell their supporters that they can’t do the things that they say they were going to do because they don’t have the Senate and the presidency. They gain the Senate, but then tell their supporters that they can’t do what they promised, because they don’t yet have the presidency. They gain the presidency, but then tell their supporters that they can’t really do what they promised because of the recalcitrance of traitorous Republicans, the cynicism and opportunism of Democrats, the partisanship of the media, and/or the subversionary machinations of a massive bureaucracy (the “deep state”).

On and On the Excuse Making Goes

Traditional GOP, conservative, MAGA voters are in a matrix designed by the GOP/Big Conservative media axis. For as understandably difficult as it is for voters to realize this, once they zoom out and assume a meta perspective on the political situation, the truth becomes obvious.

Republicans—whether Trump or anyone else—will never, can never, “defeat the Left” and “save the country” as they promise. And all GOP politicians must, at some level, know this. At the very least, they must know that they can never affect the kinds of substantive, enduring changes that voters expect from them as long as all of the obstacles to which they invariably appeal in accounting for their failures persist!

In other words, if “RINOs,” Democrats, a hostile media, and deep state apparatchiks have always prevented Republicans in the past from enacting the platform and the agenda on which they campaign, why should voters expect that Republicans will be able to surmount those obstacles now?!

What do Republicans, elected today, plan on doing to ensure that all of the hostile forces that have undermined them since forever will finally be neutralized?

Moreover, how will Republicans elected today guarantee that this happens, guarantee that their perpetual losing streak, at long last, comes to an end?

If voters would see through the theater and actually listen to GOP politicians, they would discover that even now, a time during which the Democrats, and their titular head, Biden, seem hell-bent on making life as hard as possible for American citizens, both incumbent Republicans as well as those who aspire to assume office in the future . . . complain. They neither do anything nor outline for us what they will do  differently than what they have done in the past, if they become the dominant party once more.

Such is the ubiquity of the matrix that it is apparently lost on all of the players in “the conservative movement” that the incessant whining on the part of GOP politicians and the scribblers and talking heads in the conservative media only reinforces just how weak and ineffectual the “conservative” or MAGA movement really is. The overwhelmingly negative reports of leftist outrages, of Democratic victories, to which Republican voters are routinely subjected by conservative media outlets that they visit only serve to remind voters that the GOP is a losing proposition.

If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, then voting Republican is insane.

Well, it’s insane if you expect the results that Republicans promise.

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About Jack Kerwick

Jack Kerwick earned his doctorate degree in philosophy from Temple University. His areas of specialization are ethics and political philosophy, with a particular interest in classical conservatism. His work has appeared in both scholarly journals and popular publications, and he recently authored, The American Offensive: Dispatches from the Front. Kerwick has been teaching philosophy for nearly 17 years at a variety of institutions, from Baylor to Temple, Penn State University, the College of New Jersey and elsewhere. His next book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism is pending publication. He is currently an instructor of philosophy at Rowan College at Burlington County.

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