Conservative vs Republican
Conservative Unity Against Establishment Meddling in North Idaho
by Dean Cannon
Communication is not a conservative strong point, but effective messaging is crucial to winning elections. How do we conservatives overcome our own tendencies to split votes while win people over with our principled stances?
Conservatives are values voters. At election time, we vote our values while Democrats vote to win. These are two very different strategies and explain why Democrats dominate in politics. Idaho conservatives wouldn’t dream of infiltrating the Idaho Democrat Party but, to Democrats this comes as natural as day follows night. Though there may be little difference between two conservative candidates as values voters we’ll stop playing if we don’t get our way. Democrats, meanwhile, fall in line behind whomever their party tells them to. To us, this is sheepish behavior. To Democrats this is how they win. Yes, Democrats will cheat but, not every Republican loss is due to cheating— certainly not in areas where conservatives have a majority. Unless conservatives unite and adapt, there is only one outcome these different approaches to elections will have.
In the Idaho GOP there are two kinds of Republicans; the Establishment Republican (aka RINO) and Conservative Republican. Thanks to a mobilized grassroots and brave leaders like Dorothy Moon the difference is easier to spot. Establishment Republicans speak in platitudes about being “lifelong Idahoans”, “a nation of laws”, the fight for Ukraine or other gems which matter to their donors. Conservative candidates talk about things which matter to you: surviving Bidenomics, repairing or abolishing institutions which are no longer fit for purpose. In North Idaho we have the numbers to send conservative Republicans into all offices but too often we either fail to show up or split our vote. If we are not careful Bonner County has one or two election cycles before it, and possibly Idaho itself, is effectively flipped blue despite a majority conservative population.
Election losses always create lots of hand wringing. When we refuse to learn the lessons of defeat, seeds of disunity are sewn. A sullen silence is also no substitute for tactful discretion. The circular firing squad is the devil’s workshop of conservative politics. Politics is a bloodsport. It is where good men and fragile egos go to die. Most of our disagreements in conservative circles are personality based. When we do not keep these conflicts in-house they spill out into the public. This acrimony lends credence to Establishment narratives which appeal to the conflict averse middle voter. Unity among true conservatives is our best hope in defeating these narratives as the only people who can defeat the right in North Idaho are the right.
Labels aren’t our values
Some conservatives say we shouldn’t use labels like RINO or woke. ‘That’s what the other side does‘, these values voters say, ‘those aren’t our values‘. They claim labels are not effective even as they struggle to defend themselves against the ridiculous labels being applied to them; ‘extremist’, ‘white supremacist’, ‘far right’ which most definitely have an effect. Sixty percent of Idahoans are now considered extremists by a Boise Establishment who fear them. Conservatives dismiss the extremist label as silly because our positions are so reasonable: border security, election integrity, pro-life, low taxes, small government, support for the nuclear family, etc. These are not extreme positions, but they are extreme threats to those who’ve become fattened by our top-down system. As conservatives are not known for fighting back politically, they use these labels freely. We cower to them at our peril. Progressives think little boys can be little girls. The average person knows the people saying this are crazy. Keep saying so. Repetition is the most powerful form of persuasion.
Establishment Republicans have long since given up fighting for conservative principles. Lifetime politicians, despite being paid a true pittance in Idaho, have access to power, influence and privilege unimaginable to the average person. They won’t risk losing any of that fighting for people they never respected in the first place: us. We should be grateful, they implore, such competent people run The System. We should bow our heads and get on delivering their packages, paying their taxes and vote for them at election time. How do we break this cycle?
George Orwell once said his gift of observation lay only in his “knack for accepting unpleasant facts”. How do conservative Republicans project the willingness to fight while showing competence? One answer is unity. The bargain with the voter is that they must also show the same stomach in voting for brave candidates. Yet even the hardiest of voters won’t trust a squabbling rabble when the shiny, well-oiled machinery (candidates) of the Establishment stand ready to rule. Unity shows competence. Competence inspires confidence. Confidence delivers victory.
Here is where things get tricky. Politics is a tug-of-war in a battle for the middle ground. Sometimes the people pulling hardest at the end of the rope are not visible to those in the middle. If the people further out at the end of the conservative side of the rope don’t make eye contact with their brethren in the middle, the middle let go. The battle in Idaho is for the middle right. An election-winning number of people in the conservative middle do not believe in mixing religion with politics. There is also such a thing as the non-religious conservative. Those holding the rope further out view this as an absurd statement. Recent election results however reveal we may be fracturing along this line. There are enough voters in each camp that, when united, can deliver a convincing win or, when not united, a bitter defeat. When most conservatives agree on 95% of the issues mixing religion with politics is a recipe which requires a pinch instead of a dash.
Participation problem in the middle
Political issues couched in religious language puts middle voters off. The distinction between religion and politics was made long ago and many decent Americans haven’t forgotten it. The No Religious Test Clause of Article VI of the United States Constitution, states “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Keep in mind, our fledgling nation was was birthed in the shadow of the French Revolution where the heads of ruling clergy were being chopped off by the murderous bucketful. Yet our Founding Fathers stood firm and found our nation on Biblical principles. There are Ten Commandments and Ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights. Our rights are also inalienable in that they are given to us by our Creator and cannot be taken away by government. This is the opposite of human rights which are given by the state and can be taken away by government. America was founded as a distinctly Christian nation yet our Founding Fathers left the responsibility of maintaining this heritage with the public, not the government. They did this for many reasons– one of which was so that faith remained a fountain of “in”-spiration as opposed to an externally enforced virtue– like that in a theocracy.
As a nation, as a People, we have fallen short of this immense responsibility. America’s Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s mercilessly exploited this separation between church and state. Lyndon Johnson’s 1954 Amendment to the IRS 501(c)(3) code further decimated the church’s ability to weigh in on political matters. To the extent Congress has revisited the ban over the years, it has in fact strengthened it. The most recent change came in 1987 when Congress amended the language to clarify that the prohibition also applies to statements opposing candidates. In effect, these laws merely serve to replace one God (Christian) with another (Government). The COVID-19 pandemic revealed to those paying attention whom worshipped which god. The seeds of Government dependence and worship are bearing fruit today in America’s largest cities. If America is to survive in any recognizable form, it must retain and energize its Christian faith.
Christians activists hold the line in Idaho Culture War
At the same time, voters in North Idaho put off by religious language should realize Christians are doing more than their fair share. They are not driving past the polls on election day asking what’s going on at the church? Their conviction is a shot in the arm at a time when cowardice seems to be the new political virtue. They are stepping up. They knock on thousands of doors, talk to strangers and reason with their neighbors to get them engaged in small races which make big differences in local governance. They are determined to make electoral victories for conservative candidates they believe in. Almost all of the religious invective being spewed online is by people nobody seems to know. As with hate hoaxes nationally, the political left are not above this. For those few Christians posting vitriol they are in a minority of a minority. No matter whose job one thinks promoting candidates belongs to — unpaid Christian activists are doing it and get little thanks for their time.
How do you unite a bunch of rugged individualists who have no time for groups?
Finding principled candidates to run for office is hard. Getting them across the finish line against well-funded establishment stand-ins is expensive. When we get good people in office we must do all we can to keep them there. Potential candidates see our divided politics. Few of them will risk going up against the left-wing smear machine if they also think they’ll face friendly fire from behind.
We are in a battle for the middle. Your middle and my middle may not be in exactly the same place but, like a set of train tracks, they’re close enough to support our differences as we move together in the same direction. Conservatives must get better at talking to each other and agreeing to disagree in order to move the needle. If we don’t the Establishment’s Storm Troopers stand by. Uniting of firm, yet flexible conservative voices is key to winning elections — the goal of any political endeavor. Effective messaging to the public sometimes requires the scalpel or the sledgehammer. You know when you’ve got it right. Results are the best determinant of success.
Hardcore conservatives say we’ll get the government we deserve; let it burn to the ground and start over. This view of the apocalypse, however, assumes one will be around to see it and that there will be anything left to pick through. The Woke Anschluss of Idaho is not just about litter boxes in bathrooms at the public school. It is the FBI taking you down at gunpoint in front of your family for poorly worded Facebook posts. It is a Boise hospital with establishment connections so deep and powerful it can ruin your family for two generations. It is local human rights task force groups working directly with law enforcement to silence their critics…you.
For those who lived through the pandemic in blue hell-scapes, who watched cities burn, property destruction and political violence get waived away like they were nothing, the idea of a Democrat-run Idaho through the Idaho GOP is not an option. And yes, it can happen here.
In fact, if principled conservatives remain divided we shall see it soon.