After spending a little time this morning doing some more perusing of a blog I haven't frequented in some little time (No, I won't link there, you can read the account of what brought this on here) and seeing that the blogger in question appears to be spending, at least at first glance, about a quarter of his blogging (maybe more!) on criticizing Republicans for--I kid thee not--criticizing Republicans, often about their lack of loyalty to the Republican Party, it occurred to me that it might be just as well to write a brief apologia for my affiliation with the Republican Party and stick it in the sidebar. I mean, I'm often critical of Republicans, too, so when the inevitable occurs and I get blogospherically roasted for my lack of party loyalty, I'd kind of like to have a ready response to link to.
It's really simple. It's all about electing the most conservative candidate I can get.
I was an Independent for many years. Actually, I started out as a libertarian, after having read all, I think, of Ayn Rand's books except for The Night of January 16th (Not familiar with Rand? She was an extremely powerful writer, and probably did the best job ever of trying to justify man's rights in an atheistic universe. Many of her insights are still worth reading. In the end, though, my opinion is that her attempted justification fails--there really is no good answer in her books to the question, "Why shouldn't I do whatever I can get away with?" She typically has one of her characters answer such a question with a sneer about the questioner's cannibalistic tendencies and self-hatred, but never quite manages to explain why the law of the jungle isn't the only "moral" law in an atheistic universe. If you want to know more, start here, with John Galt's speech, bearing in mind that I do not agree with everything therein.). Eventually, as I became more familiar with Scripture, I began to understand that Rand was essentially trying to justify capitalism--capitalism being what you have when the mass of people have both liberty and property rights--with what Francis Schaeffer called an inadequate base. Also, I began to understand that though I could always support Libertarians' support of economic liberty, they nevertheless had some blind spots--most notably, it is difficult, to say the least, for Libertarians to support any sort of tax at all, taxation being, in many Libertarians' view, merely governmental theft, a stance which conflicts with Paul's assertion in Romans that government is instituted by God and may collect taxes for legitimate governmental purposes (Yes, that is my paraphrase of what the Scripture says).
So I quit identifying myself as a Libertarian, and called myself an "Independent" for quite a number of years, refusing to join the Republican Party because, in my opinion, the Libertarians were right about them: in many respects, it was hard to distinguish them from the Democrats.
And then, a few years ago, it suddenly dawned on me that though the Republican Party as a whole was considerably less conservative than I would have liked, if there was any hope at all of seeing conservatives elected to office, it would have to be through the Republican Party. In short, I began to see, as I have since written more than a few times, that all political parties are coalitions, coalitions of people with disparate interests, all pooling their resources to elect candidates marginally less repugnant than other parties' candidates. The only way to influence who those candidates might be is to register Republican and vote in the primaries. Or to give to your favored candidates financially. In registering Independent, I began to see, I, and other conservatives like me, were actually making it easier for the Republican Party to continue its slide into political and philosophical incoherence.
So I changed my registration to Republican. I vote in the primaries, and I always vote for the most conservative candidate available. But please understand: it's not the Republican Party per se that matters to me; it's the election of conservative candidates. The Republican Party is not my nation, and certainly not my God. The Republican Party is merely a vehicle. And if and when that vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, I feel free to abandon it, or its candidates.
At the time of writing, there's a candidate for Tulsa mayor--Dewey Bartlett, Jr.--that campaigned in the primary as a "conservative," despite having previously endorsed a pretty liberal Democrat for re-election, despite having supported some very questionable local governmental maneuvers, and having, in his first ads, made rather obvious reference to local conservatives via referring to people's partisanship and "bickering." In my estimation, he appears to have less loyalty to the Republican Party than I do--I certainly never endorsed Kathy Taylor's re-election--and is running as a "conservative" for no other reason than that he knows that being a liberal is political poison in this city. In his case, the vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, and I refuse to put any "gas"--money or time--into it.
And there you have it. That's why I'm a Republican. Don't count on me to echo every plank in the Republican platform, or to agree with everything my candidate says or does. I'm a conservative, and my goal is to elect conservatives, and the Republican Party is the most viable vehicle to do that. When it ceases to be that vehicle, it ceases to have my support.