At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Exploring the Republican Paradox

The Republican conceives of his party as the party of conservatism, the Constitution, and “limited government.”  For this reason, he loathes the so-called “RINO” (Republican In Name Only), the faux conservative who comes like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  At the same time, however, on those all too rare occasions when a genuine conservative, Constitutionalist comes along, the “conservative” Republican refuses to support that for which he claimed to ardently wish.

There are two current, mutually reinforcing illustrations of this paradox.  The first is the response on the part of Republicans to Newt Gingrich’s latest remarks.  The second is the response of those same Republicans to Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy. We shall look at them in this order.


Last weekend, while on Meet the Press, Gingrich not only refused to endorse Paul Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare; he explicitly and unequivocally rejected it.  “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering,” the former Speaker of the House asserted. Whether “radical change” is imposed via “Obamacare” or courtesy of plans authored by a “conservative” like Ryan, Gingrich is equally opposed to both.  “I’m opposed to Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative proposing radical change.” 

As if this wasn’t enough to convince the GOP faithful that Gingrich is no conservative, he then turned around to advocate a “variation,” as he characterized it, of the controversial “individual mandate” that is among the most salient of the constitutionally dubious aspects of the much dreaded “Obamacare.” 


The swiftness with which legions of the Republican Party faithful have declared Gingrich a faux conservative is a puzzling phenomenon, for many of the same “conservative” voters who are now slamming Gingrich have supported and continue to support Republicans—whether George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, etc.—whose political differences with Gingrich are, for all practical purposes, negligible.  We have no reason for believing that a President Gingrich would govern any less—and any more—“conservatively” than a President Bush, President McCain, President Santorum, President Huckabee, President Romney, or President Palin. 

Each will be just as enthusiastic as all of the others to grow the military ever more for the sake of furthering the crusade to export “Democracy” to the Middle East and beyond. And when it comes to domestic policy, none will express any enthusiasm in the least over the prospect of truly weakening the federal government by eliminating the leviathan of entitlements and bureaucracies of which it consists.


There is another reason why the Republican voter’s demand for truly “conservative” candidates can’t but engage the intellectually curious.  This brings us to Ron Paul.          

Paul is the one presidential candidate in the current Republican field who most certainly does promise to govern more conservatively—and dramatically so—than all of the rest, for he is the only person resolved to honor the Constitution and its original design for America. That is, he is the only person with the determination to bring about the restoration of the old Constitutional Republic that “conservatives” claim they desire.

Moreover, Paul has been billed “the Godfather” of the very Tea Party movement with which the Republican Party has labored tirelessly to align itself ever since it first emerged but two years ago. 


While Paul may or may not be the sole or even primary progenitor of the Tea Party movement that some have depicted him as being, there are few who would be comfortable denying that he is indeed among the sources of inspiration from which it arose.  And there is no one who can credibly deny that the ideas for which Paul argued a few years ago and for which he was roundly ridiculed by his Republican colleagues are for the most part the ideas that define the Tea Party and the whole political climate today. 

Simply put, there is no one in the Republican primaries whose vision of the Constitution and the Republic whose terms it delineates approximates more closely than Paul’s that of the Founders.  

In spite of this, it is a virtual certainty that he will not receive the GOP’s nomination.


So, what accounts for this paradox that is all too seldom unpacked?

The truth is that the “conservative” Republican suffers an identity-crisis—and Paul, perhaps even involuntarily, draws his attention to it.

Effortlessly, Paul at once exposes two dirty little secrets about his fellow partisans.  The first is that they are virtually interchangeable with one another with respect to domestic and foreign policy issues.  The second is that they are virtually interchangeable with Democrats when it comes to these same issues.

In short, Paul puts the lie to the Republican fiction that the Republican Party is America’s “conservative” party.  

Someone like Paul makes many Republicans uncomfortable with themselves.  He beckons them to revisit their identity as “conservatives.”  But introspection is hard work and most people prefer to avoid it.  Thus, they would rather attack, ridicule, and otherwise marginalize those who challenge them.  Conversely, they would prefer to associate with those who reinforce the myths that they have come to accept about themselves.


This, I surmise, is why Republicans reject a political conservative or “constitutionalist” like Paul when they have the opportunity to endorse him.  It is this that accounts for why they fool themselves and one another into believing that there are gradations of “conservatism” among candidates who for all intents and purposes are indistinguishable from one another—and their Democratic rivals.    

Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.

originally published at The New American

  • Jack Kerwick

    Thank you for your support here. Indeed, today’s “conservatives” are a far cry from what they once were–and who they like to think they are.


  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    There’s a good deal of truth in this article.

    And let’s remember that Barry Goldwater, undoubtedly a real conservative (and for whom I voted) would, as his wife has affirmed, have a lot of contempt for the current Republican Party’s desire to rule so much of our lives.

  • Jack Kerwick

    Thanks so much Ray!

  • ray ban

    I truly wanted to jot down a small comment to be able to express gratitude to you for these great steps you are giving out on this site. My time consuming internet research has finally been recognized with really good strategies to exchange with my friends and family. I would claim that most of us visitors are very fortunate to exist in a very good website with many brilliant people with very beneficial tips. I feel somewhat grateful to have encountered the webpage and look forward to so many more amazing times reading here. Thanks once again for everything.

Previous Posts

The Christian Worldview of Rocky Balboa
On November 25, Creed, a spin-off of the Rocky franchise, will be hitting theaters. Rocky Balboa, “the Italian Stallion,” is an American icon. A down-on-his-luck nickel and dime club fighter and strong arm man for a local bookie, ...

posted 11:08:05am Nov. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Ronald Reagan: No Conservative
On October 21, Bill Bennett and Sean Hannity had a somewhat feisty exchange during a segment on the latter’s television show. Bennett made two remarks that are worth focusing upon. First, when asked whether he is “ok” with a Trump ...

posted 12:50:21pm Oct. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Mitt Romney, Faux Conservative Extraordinaire
Those of Donald Trump’s “conservative” critics who accuse him of promoting a faux conservatism would be well served to look in the mirror. In the GOP presidential primaries of 2012, many of the same commentators, like Charles ...

posted 9:42:36pm Oct. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Guest Blogger, Myron Pauli: "Political Orphans"
While both political parties pay homage to and occasionally quote Thomas Jefferson, the plain fact is that old TJ could never win the nomination of either party. Would the Democrats nominate a male white supremacist who owned slaves even to the ...

posted 8:07:12pm Oct. 13, 2015 | read full post »

"United in Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror:" A Review
When Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed that Islam and the American Constitution are incompatible, he immediately found himself buried by an avalanche of criticism. Neither the tone nor the substance of the lion’s share of ...

posted 9:40:13pm Oct. 06, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.