“Kept Republicans”: Prominent Right-Wingers Who Sound Very Liberal

We’ve had a wide variety of conservative: the neo-cons, the paleo-cons and most recently the crunchy cons. Have you ever noticed how many of the most prominent conservative voices in America sound more like liberals? I have, and I believe they are in class all their own. They have a special mission and fit a particular profile.

They are what I like to call ‘kept cons.’ They are ‘kept’ by liberals in that kept cons generally work for liberal institutions and seem to fill the role of token conservative; they write conservative columns for national liberal newspapers or appear as conservative hosts or commentators on CNN or MSNBC or CNBC; but they don’t sound all that conservative. You can spot them slamming Sarah Palin or tamping down on the Tea Party. Their usual message is always something like, “I’m a conservative but these other people, these gun owners/southerners/TEA Partiers/Tax Cutters/Randians/Supply-siders/Pro-lifers/Climate Change Deniers/Libertarians/Gun Nuts/ Gold Bugs, etc., are beyond the pale.”

The kept conservative’s announced job is to represent the conservative point of view, but their real job is to give the illusion of balance without really challenging any of the core tenets of liberalism. They spend lots of time ‘reinventing’ the Republican Party, and the new invention is always the same: more liberal. They live among liberals, their friends are liberals, and, of course, they are paid by liberals.

They don’t actually have to work for The New York Times Company or NBC Universal. Some of these kept cons work for think tanks funded by conservatives, when they can’t get government work. They might be employed by the American Enterprise Institute where they can collect steady paychecks between gigs working for government, or for campaigns for people who want to run governments, or running lobbying and public relations firms when the GOP is not in power.

They raise money from across the U.S. on the grounds that they will represent heartland values in the corrupt seat of political power. But, nevertheless, they live in Washington, D.C., they think like D.C., they are haunted by the fear that if their career flags too much they will be banished from D.C., and they fight each other for the right to sit on the floor nearest the table of the liberals, where they can get the biggest scraps which fall from that table.

They are the loyal opposition: loyal, that is, to the regime, not to the people. They are not the solution. In fact they are more of a problem than the liberals, because when occasionally they are in power, they spout disconnected free-market slogans while they spend us into oblivion and practice crony capitalism, giving free-markets an undeserved black eye. True resistance to socialism will not come from such an opposition force as our current conservative ruling elite. Better no opposition than faux opposition.

I don’t want to be too cynical. Kept conservatives may once have been true, principled conservatives, and may well have gone to Washington initially as Mr. Smiths, with pure intentions and a desire to save it. But unlike Jimmy Stewart’s character, when they got hit with the overwhelming allure and threat of great power, they ‘went native.’

For a time I ran a conservative think tank called the Allegheny Institute (more on that in a future column) which focused on free market solutions to local problems. This is where I first saw the phenomenon of the kept conservative up close and personal. I was an adviser to some members of the country commission.

Counties in America are often governed by a county commission system under three commissioners. The system is set up so that two are of the majority party and the third is of the minority party. In Allegheny County (the Pittsburgh region) that pretty much always meant two Democrats and one Republican. The only real fight the Republicans ever fought was not which party would govern the county, but which Republican would be the minority commissioner. If he didn’t make too much trouble, some small sliver of jobs patronage was thrown his way, maybe a few contracts for his favored vendors with the county, and a small staff on the county budget, plus his salary, benefits, driver, etc. Crumbs from the table of the Democrat machine.

I see the same thing on a national scale right now: Republican congressmen who are more afraid of losing their jobs than they are of losing their integrity. I get it, really I do. D.C. is a company town and the company is government and if the company keeps growing there’s something for everyone.

The safest route is to become invested in the mission of growing the company and keeping your bit of the big game safe. But if you take a risk, a real risk, and stand up for principle and just vote ‘no’ on the fiscal cave, or draw a line in the cement (enough with the lines in the sand, which are washed away with each new tide) and vote ‘no’ on new debt, you just might end up being exiled from all of that, sent back home to Poughkeepsie, New Rochelle, Upper St. Clair, Springfield, Greenville, Franklin or Fairview, where it’s back to work on Monday running the restaurant chain or the auto dealership. You probably don’t even get to be the head of some trade federation in D.C. because that’s really a former Senator kind of job; it’s not for just some House of Representative back-bencher. And forget about a plum think tank gig or CNBC/CNN/MSNBC Contributor gig at $500 a pop.

The opposite of a kept conservative could be called a ‘Saint Thomas More conservative.’ He (or increasingly often, she) values integrity more than power. Thomas More, of course, valued his integrity even more than his life! I wonder: can’t we at least get conservatives in Washington who value their integrity more than their lifestyles?



  • unclejohnson

    Excellent. Hats off to the Author.

  • WhiteFalcon

    I didn't read it all but I think he's got it.

  • Steve Tanton
  • http://www.facebook.com/LyneilA Lyneil Vandermolen

    Yeah, I hear the psuedo-cons jumping on the amnesty bandwagon nowadays and claiming it's the only way to keep from being labelled a racist. None are courageous enough to flip the tables on Democrats and ask hispanics how much they want to compete with illegal aliens for jobs and resources? They could reframe the argument overnight if they had the guts. But they don't.

    • kenhowes

      The answer if you do ask them is certain to be along the lines of, "Sure, I don't like having to compete with undocumentados for a job, but you Republicans are only against the illegals because you'd like to send all Hispanics back to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, etc.." When the fatal Prop 187 went in front of the voters, Hispanics initially favored it. But the people who make opinion in that community were against it, and they persuaded their people that this was really a measure based in hatred of Hispanics. It's not true, but at this point, it doesn't matter whether it's true; it's seen to be true, and to whom are they going to listen? The person they've been listening to for years, or the Republican whom they've distrusted for years?

      On the other hand, this deal can be seen to have been worked out between the two parties, and two of the Republicans involved were Hispanic--Sen. Rubio and Rep. Diaz-Balart. It changes perception at least a little. It doesn't have to change perception a lot; even a two or three percent shift in the Hispanic vote would make Florida, North Carolina and Arizona securely Republican and New Mexico and Nevada competitive again, as they were until not too long ago.

  • http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/ Ted R. Weiland

    Whereas Communism lives under the new name Democracy, liberalism lives under the new
    name Republicanism. The sad fact is, Democrats and Republicans are not polar opposites; there is little significant difference between them anymore. What represented the Democrats ten years ago, represents the Republicans today.

    Anything left of Yahweh's morality (as codified in His commandments, statutes, and judgments) is left, liberal, and ungodly. When today's politicians (Democrats, Republicans,
    Libertarians, Constitutionalists, etc.), churches, preachers, and most people claiming to be Christians are measured against this standard (the only standard by which all things must be judged), they are found to be merely liberal or conservative leftists. It is consequently imperative that Christians do everything in our power to uphold this standard before the secular world and modern churchianity.

    For more regarding how Yahweh's perfect law and altogether righteous judgments (Psalm 19:7-11) apply today, see only booklet "Law and Kingdom: Their Relevance Under the New Covenant" at http://www.bibleversusconstitution.org/law-kingdomFrame.html.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.hodges.5070 David Hodges

    I'll be glad when we Christians come out of the closet and become brave enough to proclaim what we claim to believe. Beltway fever is the natural result of man's election process. What's wrong with Yahweh choosing leaders the way He chose Matthias in Acts 1: 26?: "And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles."

    • Clint

      Something to think about, Matthias was never heard from again throughout the New Testament. Paul, on the other hand, who was personally chosen by Yeshua/Yahweh wrote much of the New Testament and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediteranian area. Just a thought.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.hodges.5070 David Hodges

        Yes, it is something to think about. Is this a case of "No news is good news"? I've always thought that casting lots would be better than picking the candidate with the biggest campaign budget (and consequently, the biggest list of those to whom favors are owed). Samuel's telling Saul that he would be king, before lots were cast, proves Who is behind such an election process.

  • mudguy1

    What do you mean they "Sound Liberal" they are. When the majority of them vote to increase the debt limit and to send F16 and tanks to Egypt proves that are best liberal Democrats in the Senate and in the House. I will not call my self a Republican. I am a Conservative that believes in our Constitution and the freedom that it gives us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/rodcurry Rod Curry

    It's sad to see the politicians dismiss their principles to remain with the majority in control. It only takes a little money & power. How dumb they are not to realize God's judgement for us all.

  • gypsy314

    Rinos must go

  • jerry1944

    Yes there are so many mods in the gop and i dont think any of them like the Tea Party but i sure want back any that admites they dont like them. We know bonehead dnt like ANY Tea Party members and they have him as there leader but i am just about out of the gop now

  • http://www.facebook.com/sharon.schmidt.10 Sharon Schmidt

    I once thought term limits were the answer, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again. I believe term limits are the answer because there is obviously something in the water in DC, if anyone stays too long they begin to think the same as everyone else.

    • shortyshappy

      Make that term limits without the lifetime freebies, pension, health care, etc.

    • fatman45

      Term limits don't work. Just look at the situation anywhere they have been tried. A perfect example is the People's Republic of California. What happens with term limitis is this: Say your representative is a DemocRAT. She really screws up, to the point where you are ready to do anything to get rid of her. Without term limits, your only choice would be to vote for a Republican the next election. With term limits, all you have to do is wait for her to term out, then gleefully pull the lever for another D. As an added bonus, the new D, being a newb, has no staff so in order to ramp up quickly they inherit the staff of the previous D. And since it's the staff who do the real work of reading and writing bills, what you end up with is a more or less permanent group of unelected staffers making laws. No thanks! The real solution is to break the back of this so-called "two-party system", which is an invention of - wait for it - the two parties! We need more parties on both the left and the right to give us real choices!

  • ARMYOF69

    The so called GOP is full of camouflaged liberal socialists. The GOP is dead, long live the TEA PARTY.

  • kenhowes

    New Rochelle hasn't had a Republican congressman in a long time; Poughkeepsie doesn't have one now. The wealthy, for whom Republicans martyred themselves last fall, are Democrats.

  • leefromok

    I think that there is more than greed involved.
    I would suspect that there is coercion too.
    The new people are probably given an “offer they can’t refuse”.
    How else could you explain passing the NDAA?
    Both parties are controlled by the global/elites.
    They don’t even try to hide the election fraud anymore.

    If the debtor is slave to the lender, we, --and our grandchildren, have all been sold into slavery.

  • Progressive Republican

    "I wonder: can’t we at least get conservatives in Washington who value their integrity more than their lifestyles?"

    Integrity and conservative are polar opposites. Clearly the answer is a demonstrable, "No".

  • darkcyder

    The ultimate solution is that you need to have term limits for those in power. And the goal of the true patriotic voter should be to find the person who least wants the job, and will most likely do it for a short time before returning to the fields to farm their crops. THis in itself creates the problem that tells us we need to recruit people who do NOT want to be in Washington, and talk them into going there for a short period to represent us.Almost like serving in the Army.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000000541834 Ted Smith

    I used to call myself a conservative until the teapots came along. Now the word causes me to retch. Teaposts are nuts. They have cost us elections.

    The Tea Party has been a disaster in US Senate races. Republicans had good chances to win several seats in 2010 and 2012 but state Tea Parties injected their candidates into the
    primaries and the results were disastrous.
    The TPs won the primaries then lost the general elections. In the 2010 races:

    Colorado –Ken Buch (TP) beat GOP candidate Jane Norton in the primary then lost the general election to Michael Bennett (D) keeping the seat Democrat.

    Delaware – Christine O’Donnell (TP) beat GOP candidate Mike Castle in the primary then lost the general election to Chris Cooms (D) keeping the seat Democrat.

    Nevada – Sharron Angle (TP) beat GOP candidate Sue Lowden in the primary then lost the general election to Harry Reid (D) keeping the seat Democrat and Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

    The Tea Party got Harry Reid reelected in 2010.

    The Tea Party is making two major mistakes: 1) they have spent their time “taking out”
    Republicans who aren’t considered “conservative” enough by injecting themselves into primary races and defeating the Republicans. The TPs should be working to defeat Democrats, not Republicans, and 2) they need to understand they can’t do anything to improve government if they can’t win the general elections.

    In Kentucky, the Tea Partier elitist’s intent to sabotage US Senator Mitch McConnell because he isn’t “conservative” enough to suit their tastes is another incredibly stupid mistake.