There was a time when it was easy to be a conservative and a Republican. Back in the 1960s, we believed in many things.
1) We believed in doing our best to improve our situation and thereby to improve the overall economy and the general well-being of society. We were generous to charities when possible.
2) We believed in smaller government and fiscal responsibility so that the private sector could prosper and create the jobs needed for the new generations as they came along. This somewhat pro-business posture was our answer to the lure of socialism as it was being established in many (mostly European) countries at the time.
3) We realized that a social safety net was necessary for the truly disadvantaged but we tried not to be in a position of needing it for ourselves.
These beliefs were gradually eroded in the later years of the last century when the party moved to increase military budgets almost without limits. Fiscal responsibility seemed to be forgotten in the rush.
Then came the wars of 2001 to 20?? — completely unfunded and mostly unfounded.
The party now seems to be wedded to the military/industrial complex as well as to the National Rifle Association.
We seem to have given up on help-thy-neighbor thinking, We want to keep immigrants out — forgetting that nearly all of us have immigrant ancestry.
Our message now seems to be “Forget you, Jose — I have my seat in the lifeboat.”
Much of our support is provided by people of enormous wealth with special tax arrangements and electoral influence and, lately, we have attracted solid support from a religious group who seems to hope that we will, in some mysterious way, hasten the second coming of the Messiah, while, in the meantime, putting women back in their place — the kitchen.
Well, their support is welcome indeed, without the big buck PACs and the Evangelicals, we would be in a worse minority situation than we already find ourselves.
With so many unpopular positions and having severed our relations with so many other minority groups including women, we are obviously destined to be a minority party for the foreseeable future.
With this in mind, our only hope of having any political power or relevance is to concentrate on what we do best:
1) Voter suppression to ensure that voting is regarded as a privilege, not a right.
2) Gerrymander local electoral boundaries to make our few votes count to the max.
3) Preserve, at all costs, the Electoral College in all its weird and wonderful glory.
With all this in mind, I find it increasingly difficult to pull the R lever or check the R box but I will keep trying to make sense of it all.
Jeremy Hewett is a resident of Kailua-Kona.