Today, while discussing an unrelated topic, I think I may have discovered at least part of the reason the GOP was willing to essentially ignore the conservatives in this recent election.
I was discussing racial politics on a news and commentary site, and returned to an old, familiar theme. Discussing black voters, I argued that they did themselves terrible political harm. By voting reliably as a block, with relatively immutable and uniform beliefs, they allowed Democrats to ignore them, to treat them as "safe votes", and only periodically need to throw them a bone to convince them they were important. In short, by being such loyal voters, they reduce their political influence.
At which point it struck me, conservatives were doing the same thing prior to this election.
When the Trump campaign said it did not need conservative votes, and the GOP squelched any dissent at the convention, I argued they had turned their backs on the most reliable voters, most consistent small donors and most frequent volunteers, and predicted it would harm the GOP in the long run.
But, perhaps the GOP saw things a little differently. In any number of recent elections they had rejected candidates favored by the conservatives in favor of more "electable"moderates. Similarly, their platform, though offering a few concessions to specific factions (such a pro-life voters) who were notorious for sitting out elections, did not provide a lot for consistently small government, federalist voters. And yet, again and again conservatives returned to the GOP, trying to "reform from within", arguing there was no other alternative*.
And perhaps that led to the GOP to see conservatives the way the Democrats see minorities. They had mistreated us before, largely ignored us, and we came back time and again. So perhaps they imagined that we would come back no matter what, that we had nowhere else to go, and so they could ignore us in favor of Trump voters and still get our support.
Sadly, it may even work. I know a number of small government, free trade, federalist voters are looking for new parties, but many are not. Some still hope to regain the GOP, some think no third party can win, or it will take too long, some hope for a Cruz presidency, and so on.Yet, in so doing, they may actually be defeating themselves. By being so loyal, they may be turning us into the GOP equivalent of the minority voting block. And thus, in the end, are making it less likely the GOP will listen to us.
So, we are left with two options. I favor a third party ("Why We Have RINOs"). Even if it takes a long time,it means we can start fresh, eliminate the "big tent"problems of the GOP ("The Problem With the Big Tent") and establish a true small government party. But, if you fear how long it may take, or worry it will fail, then I suggest a second option. If you must stay in the GOP, take a lesson from the pro-life segment of the party. Do not be afraid to let the party lose, do not fear sitting out an election. Make sure they do not count you as a safe vote. If they can rely on you, they can ignore you. Be unreliable, ironically it is the only way to make sure the party listens to you.