This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, July 12th, 2013:
The Frontier Lab just published a study entitled “Switching Behavior” based on in-depth interviews with some former Republicans that explored why they left the party. Their conclusions are revealing:
- They didn't like being told to vote for the “lesser of two evils”
- They lost hope that the GOP can remedy the slide into totalitarianism
- They felt betrayed by the leaders at the top of the GOP, and
- They enjoy working with people who have a coherent conservative philosophy.
It's a very small study, involving just 216 current and past members of the republican Party. But the results have substance and value, and reveal just how weak the loyalty to the GOP really is. When asked “Do you currently consider yourself to be a Republican?” 69 of them said “yes” while 97 said “no”, and the rest were “unsure.” But of the 97 who said “no,” 65 of them said they had been “lifelong Republicans.” It's a small sample, but if this can be extended to the GOP itself, its foundation – its core – its “I'm a true-blue Republican forever, no matter what” base – is disintegrating.
The study stayed away, unfortunately, from any measure of ideology, but that element flowed through the study anyway. Those who left the GOP were tired of trying to buy the argument that “our guy is pretty bad but at least he's better than the other bad guy.” That's the siren song of disaster, a compromise with evil, a willingness to give up precious ground to a false premise that eventually leads to an authoritarian state. They no longer accept this “as a valid principle,” according to the study, and in fact they “recoil from its use as a reason for them to continue to affiliate as Republicans.”
Those former Republicans lost hope that their party could make a difference. They decried the lack of “leadership by principle” at the top of the party.
They were offended when their principled candidate – probably Ron Paul, but his name wasn't specifically mentioned in the study – was given short shrift by the GOP establishment. In fact, the study said that “GOP officials who ridicule or undermine candidates they perceive to be deficient are doing more than internal maneuvering. They are actively promoting the pathway to disaffiliation by some in the Republican community.” Translation: by rejecting Ron Paul, they rejected a huge part of the former Republican Party's base. This was no accident, according to the study, but a deliberate attempt to cause the Ron Paul contingent to go away and don't bother us with your fringe candidate.
Those who left the party also revealed that they are much more comfortable working with Tea Party types who share the same values. So while the study doesn't specifically say so, those who left the party didn't just disappear from the political scene, but instead are lending their influence – time, effort, and resources – to Tea Party groups.
In a revealing part of the study, the “pathway to disaffection” was spelled out by following an individual who represented the pool of those studied:
This individual began to question the Republican Party after having seen the candidate he supported attacked by members of the Republican Party establishment….
He felt “let down” after seeing mitt romney chosen as the 2012 nominee for president….
[This led him to] the questioning of the GOP's motives, which ultimately led to feelings of exclusion and … to disaffiliation.
The study also revealed how far out of touch the Republican Party is when compared to its own internal analysis of the 2012 election, which concluded that the party needed to broaden its base of support by trying to be better at being all things to all people. Sylvia Thompson, a black conservative writer, put her finger on exactly what is wrong with that approach:
I recall some years ago hearing a black female Republican respond to a media person's inquiry regarding why Republicans did not reach out to blacks. Her comment remains with me after all these years, because of its reasonableness. She said that if blacks or anybody else shared the GOP's conservative principles, why wouldn't they come to the party? Why must the party go to them?
Precisely. The GOP has been exposed as an extension of the Democrat Party. Its primary interest is not to stop the slide into socialism, but merely to slow it down. Instead of racing at 100 mph towards disaster, the Republicans want to travel at 60 mph instead.
After reviewing the Frontier Lab's study, Thompson is optimistic:
If the Republican Party continues on its downward spiral … a truly conservative alternative party will arise. The sentiment for such a party is certainly out there. It will take a few more tries on the part of Tea Party enthusiasts … to reinstate the full spectrum of conservative principles into the Republican Party structure.
If that task fails, a genuinely conservative party will be the result. It may take time to come to fruition, but I am convinced that it will happen.
Switching Behavior study by The Frontier Lab
Study reveals why some are leaving the Republican Party
Study: Republicans Leaving Party Are Tired of ‘Two Evils' Argument
GOP's post-2012 Election analysis: The Growth and Opportunity Project