Conservatism used to mean something. Not too long ago it was a philosophy the Republican Party cherished, promoted and defended.
In the simplest of terms, conservatism used to represent the ideals and principles encouraging personal freedom and responsibility, Judeo-Christian morals, innovation and entrepreneurship, American sovereignty, defense of our nation and its citizens and democracy over totalitarianism.
Those values have been corrupted and abandoned in many instances, particularly by several of our elected leaders and those interviewing for those jobs. Many conservatives, myself included, are deeply concerned by this circumstance.
Today, anger about everything, immovable thinking and rationale, conspiratorial theories and extreme skepticism, hatred of the opposition and a lukewarm defense of democracy are considered by many Republicans to be conservative standards.
It possesses no vision, optimism or ideas. It offers nothing. Our Republic cannot exist under these emotions.
So, how did we get here? I believe the conservatism that once espoused personal responsibility, American sovereignty and defense of our nation and citizens was placed in jeopardy.
The last time the U.S. balanced its budget and reduced the budget deficit was under President Bill Clinton. Today, we borrow exorbitant amounts of money from China simply to operate the most basic functions of government. The amount we borrow isn’t even enough for Medicare and Social Security to remain solvent. We continue to spend what we don’t have. It can’t last.
Our southern border is so transparently unprotected that tens of thousands of illegal migrants attempt to cross every day, and more than 100,000 Americans die each year because of illicit drugs — fentanyl specifically — infiltrating our communities through Mexico by way of China. We can’t protect our sovereign borders. It is unsustainable.
The terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, changed America forever. Our vigilance and patriotism reached record heights. But our faith and trust in the war we waged would soon erode when we could not uncover weapons of mass destruction and the clandestine nature of the Patriot Act was realized. Our government institutions had lost our confidence.
The culmination: two presidential impeachments in four years, an attempt to overturn a presidential election, the resistance of the peaceful transfer of power, and an attack on our nation’s Capitol.
With the exception of the latter, these circumstances produced a conservative response. The tea party movement reminded us that government is not the solution. The Freedom Caucus championed not spending more money than we have. Drain the Swamp embraced not allowing special interests to stand in the way of fixing the challenges we face. And honestly questioning the intent and motives of our government institutions’ actions shed light on personal and political aims.
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Anger, immovable thinking, and extreme skepticism were all provoked. And in my opinion, it occurred so quickly that we were left with an unattended boiling pot of water. It simply overflowed.
I hesitate to reward the ego of Donald Trump. However, in 2015 Donald Trump pieced together the puzzle and shed light on the problems America and Americans face. But ultimately, he corrupted conservatism for his own benefit.
Republicans today are a party with no voice for change, no optimism, no vision and no solutions for our challenges. The conservatism I was introduced to only a generation ago always had answers and solutions. Not anymore.
If Republicans want to restore and reembrace real conservatism — optimism, vision, answers, and solutions — we can’t continue to follow Trump and his series of defeat, losses, conspiracies, and anger; we must abandon him.
2024 provides conservatives this opportunity, but it is essential we seize it before time runs out.
Alfredo Rodriguez III is the founder and president of Dyce Communications, a national strategic communications, public affairs, media and Republican political consulting firm based in Charlotte.