Refusing to embrace Trump is said will relegate Principled Conservatives to a political wilderness of irrelevance. What happens to Conservatives without a home? Does it even have a future?
We’ve spent the last decades watching the Constitutional Conservatism that Reagan branded into the GOP get trod underfoot within the Republican Party via the Establishment leadership. It should not have surprised us, because that same Dole/Bush liberal Rockefeller Republican opposed Reagan with vehemence in his runs for the presidency – and even after he was in office. They made it a cause to eradicate it from their party once Reagan left office, because to have listened to the beltway bunch – we are an embarrassment to their party. There is probably no better definition of this than in Angelo Codevillas excellent essay: America’s Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution, which if you have not read – I highly invite you to do so.
But today – it is self-evident that the Republican Party we thought was the home of limited government, Constitutional Conservatism, is nothing of the sort. Since 2012 the leadership made it clear via rules changes that Reagan Conservatives and Originalists were to sit down, shut up and vote the party without having a say in how things are run or what policies and platforms to cherish. The Leadership under Mitch McConnell even threatened to ‘punch us in the nose’ for daring to primary him with a Tea Party favorite. They lied to the entire base promising to stop Obama’s Fundamental transformation if we handed them the Senate. But the polls had barely closed and the Leadership was already giving us the middle finger. The Ruling Class leadership established themselves as nothing but career collaborators with the Democrats and Conservative efforts to demand the foundations we respect, should be upheld. But we were rebuffed and their contempt for us laid bare.
The Establishment worked harder to oppose their own base than the unConstitutional affronts of Obama and the Democrats. Even to the point of empowering and funding his entire agenda. It was a punch to the gut after a slap in the face and they told us at the beginning of this 2016 election cycle to lie back and enjoy the rape.
In the aftermath of the 2016 Primaries and the debacle of Trump – many Conservatives are now left wondering ‘what happens to the movement now?’.
Does it morph into this Nationalist Populist Fascism Trump and his hordes are preaching? Does it get folded into Socialism Light under Rience Priebus? Does it get redefined by Trump into something we would never recognize? Does it need to depart the GOP and form or work to build a new party? If so, and a departure is necessary, what then?
What happens to the core principles and foundations that are now apparently a minority within the GOP and the electorate itself?
I may have an answer as to what we might see, because I have seen a very similar thing happen, albeit not politically.
The fallout from Apostasy.
I’ve witnessed a microcosm of what I think is happening to Conservatism within churches in this country.
Now before you discount that and think that church fellowship and politics have nothing in common – understand that for most Constitutional Conservatives – their political cores are a belief system, doctrines of Americanism if you will – that becomes the prism by which they look at everything in society. Everything. Not just political campaigns. But how they live their lives. Not unlike how some Christians look at the world through the prism of the bible.
If you think that notion is absurd, then you are not a Constitutional Conservative. You are something else entirely.
I’ve witnessed and/or been part of several large corporate churches having gone apostate on their foundational doctrines to embrace ‘new truth’ (i.e.: homosexual marriage, Chrislam or even changes in basic doctrinal beliefs) all for the sake of ‘getting new people to like us’ and grow the weekly coffer. Often it is done under the pretense of ‘preaching the Gospel’ to the unreached. In one case, a church simply had individuals in leadership who wanted to force the church to accept heresy as a doctrine or tear the entire church down and remake it into their own image. Some due to individuals in leadership that hated the church itself for their own personal reasons.
What happened in those experiences I think, is what we are watching take place now with Conservatism and the GOP. And here is what happens:
During the process of ‘fundamental Transformation’ – the introduction of heretical ‘new truths’ are preached within the church. Some doctrines declared outdated, un-useful, offensive or just plain wrong. A discussion is started about adopting or morphing other doctrines into their own. Most nod blindly in agreement, because a large number of brethren believe whatever they are told from the pulpit, rather than prove what is true themselves. However, those who have their nose in scripture are alarmed and upset at the perversions being preached. The leadership does nothing and actually assists the doctrinal changes begin implemented, often by proof texting the bible to authorize the changes. So the new doctrines are imposed, incrementally at first – and then full implementation despite the complaints from longtime members who recognize apostasy.
A large number of brethren convince themselves that they can change the church from within, and work to rectify the growing discord and contentions with the elders and pastors. Often they are placated with meaningless promises of involvement in church board decisions, or their suggestions and complaints will be taken under advisement. They soon find their efforts get them branded as sowers of discord.
The Ministry then goes full tilt to preach ‘unity’ and ‘obedience’ to whatever the pastorship says and or decrees is the new doctrine. This happens week after week, so as to condition the members to accept what the church government tells them. Often there are sermon series on Romans 13, and the requirement to obey church hierarchy.
Those who continue to complain or discuss the apostasy with others, are ostracized, sermonized against and ultimately disfellowshipped, marked and put out of the congregation. This causes a huge backlash and the leadership almost always tamps down with an authoritarian fist, warning brethren they will lose their souls if they do not accept the new doctrines and to either shut up and keep their discontent to themselves, or leave.
A major split occurs (which is where I think we are currently at with the GOP). A number of those who recognize apostasy leave the church to form new smaller congregations. The diminishment of the larger church is almost immediate – and usually a war of words, legal actions and other nefarious behaviors are directed at those who decide they no longer want to be part of the Mother Church. Members of the older congregation are instructed to have no contact with those who left, and sometimes they work to discredit, sabotage and ruin the efforts those that left are making to form a new congregation. Often internecine wars go on for years, causing more discord and division. The larger church often aligns itself with larger apostate churches to keep their tithes and offerings up – but in short order they are folded into the churches they have adopted doctrines from and cease to be who they once were.
The dangerous fallout of such splits is the disillusionment in God that many people suffer. Some quit the faith altogether. Some run back to embrace ideas and beliefs they once practiced before conversion. Some grow hostile to the very essence of Christianity, God and the bible itself. Still there remains a remnant of core principled Believers who recognize they have no home and work to establish new fellowships among likeminded.
Among the splintered groups comes those ‘leaders’ who believe in the core doctrines that were discarded, but they now want a following for themselves. So they work to yank as many people from the now irrelevant ‘mother church’ into their own congregations, promising them a restoration of ‘truth once delivered’ by a church that has gone apostate. They succeed for awhile, but then members are subjected to the personal interpretations of the ‘new leader’. Like sheep – lots of brethren will follow a man because of his oratory skills or influence. People want to go where there are numbers rather than dwell within a handful. But the warring factions of those who split the first time, split again and again – most often over whose name is on the door and who is in charge. Some insist upon the precise and exact interpretation of everything from prophecy to which translation must be the only one referenced, or they declare the splintered group to be just another apostate group. More splits occur.
This leads to a tiny minority of core people beholden to doctrine rather than men or numbers that are left to fellowship together. Home fellowships or congregations are on the rise with small groups renting storefronts. Their numbers are less than a couple dozen people every week. Their influence in the community is limited or next to nothing.
The results are that the brethren are jaded and worry about which charlatan or false preacher will come in and try to lead them astray. They turn inward in terms of trust, and the preaching of the Gospel is neglected for the sake of simply catering to a core group of people who want to meet and congregate and share what they have in common. The Great Commission becomes more diluted and society is untouched or influenced by the truths they should be sharing.
The culture around us is a testament to the damage that this kind of apostasy and splits in a body that is supposed to be serving as a witness and light to a nation that once called itself of God. The church at large becomes lukewarm and ineffective.
That said, there are positives that occur when a biblically-oriented people remove themselves from apostasy. Their faith and values are not diminished or rewritten to suit the agenda of others. And while it may seem they are in the wilderness and irrelevant – they learn the beauty that comes from truly being free of ‘plantation control’. They can maneuver and move wherever the Spirit of God directs them to move without approval or direction of a hierarchy of men that often limits what individuals can do unless the ‘leadership’ endorses it.
Over time, I have seen smaller groups network with others and they become a ‘leaderless’ movement as it were, all claiming Christ as their head and of no need for a party of men to tell them what they can or cannot do. They field their own missionaries, outreach and are having an influence on younger people who were invisible in the larger corporate churches. I see God’s Hand moving in these groups and I think that they will be the ones Daniel 11:32 describes as doing ‘great exploits’ – despite the fact Christian influence in America and the West in on the wane.
I am not discouraged over the fact that Christianity is largely irrelevant in a hedonist culture that sees them as intolerant or evil. We were told this would happen in Matthew 24. I am content to know that it is with a minority that a witness is given before God.
What happens to the Reagan Constitutional Conservative Movement Now?
As with the church – if the Constitutional Conservative movement is splintered and relegated to pockets and corners, having been rejected by the majority party and a nation that no longer reflects the values we believe in, we should in no wise capitulate and give into becoming apostates ourselves. We have to admit we have no home or place within the Republican party. It is wholly apostate and corrupted, it has entrenched rules that will forever eschew what you and I believe in. We risk having our core values watered down and diminished by remaining within it. We can build a new fellowship and party that better values what we are governed by.
For even if we are irrelevant as far as the political zeitgeist and direction of the country goes in the near future – we are the ones who have yet to do great exploits as a tiny minority that holds to the truth of our foundations and religious heritage. We are the ones who will provide a witness and a searing conscience to those who willfully discarded what was established for liberty to be maintained in this land. We are the ones to point the disillusioned to the path and the way back to freedom.
Our political worldview based on the true history of our founding and the documents that established liberty should not change simply because the rest of the nation has embraced Socialism and big government. We will be the remnant that have the seeds of liberty in our souls – and should they need to be planted in the ashes of consequences, we will be the ones to plant good seed for a hoped-for good crop understanding that though we are limited to planting and watering – it is God that brings forth the increase.