What is a “True Conservative”?

LisaJones01This is the first post by new Leavenworth St. writer, “Lisa Jones”.
See her bio in the “Writers” tab above.

As a lifelong Republican, I’ve always used the words “Republican” and “Conservative” interchangeably. To me, they’ve always been one in the same. But in popular culture, that’s not the case anymore…and I am having trouble putting my finger on the definition of a “True Conservative”.

As it would seem, if you are not in the category of true conservative, you are a RINO. No in-between. No room for nuance or personal experience guiding the way. You either are or you are not.

If I ask around about what makes a TC, I hear many different answers. “Respects the Constitution.” “Says no to spending.” “Has principles.” “Faithful to constituents.” A good Freedomworks score and some good rhetoric, and that’s how we know the good from the bad.

What’s interesting is that most Republicans by definition feel this way (I know I do, and I’m pretty sure John Boehner doesn’t get up every morning thinking about how he can get around the Constitution), but a small group of grassroots activists disagrees, and since they are new and anyone who was around before them is “establishment”, anyone who doesn’t lockstep agree with them must not really be conservative.

This struck me very clearly on the first day of the new Congress when Mia Love, a “True Conservative” darling, made two choices: she voted for Boehner as speaker, and she joined the Congressional Black Caucus.

Now, Congresswoman Love may have had any number of reasons for doing what she did. She may have spoken to Boehner and liked what she heard. She may have reasonably assumed that since the protest vote was going nowhere (after all, the 25 defectors could not even be bothered to coalesce around one candidate, and instead, split votes even among themselves), the politically expedient thing to do was to not join it. Who knows? As for the CBC, perhaps she felt that her very presence called into question the need for the organization, and she wanted to be a reminder of that at every meeting she joined. Perhaps she thinks that the best way to change an organization like that is from within. Or perhaps, just perhaps, she actually felt that in spite of political differences, she has something in common with other Black members of Congress that made membership in the organization worthwhile.

She may have had any number of reasons for doing what she did. But apparently with those two actions, which are actually fairly innocuous, she took out her copy of the Constitution, tore it up in front of our eyes, and spit on it. Because now, ladies and gentleman, her “True Conservative” card was revoked.

Reaction on social media was swift and merciless. Paraphrased lines included “You’ve stabbed us in the back.” “You have no principles, you lied to us.” “You’re a RINO now.” And my personal favorite “It’s time to get to work to get her out of there in two years and replace her with a (you guessed it) true conservative.” And it continues to be so. If you read anything she posts to her Facebook or Twitter feeds about actions she’s taken since, she’s continuously labeled by some as a RINO. A full 3 weeks into her term.

Does this make sense to anyone? If so, I’d like someone to explain it to me.
I’m beginning to think this “true conservative” is the modern-day quadricorn. Does it exist? CAN it actually exist, when faced with the realities of actually being in power, needing to work with people, the realization that sometimes we need compromise to move forward? Or is the whole movement about having a number of people who just say “no” and get nothing done, unwilling or unable to work with people not lock step with their narrow principles? What exactly does that accomplish?

This is national all the way down to the local level. The Douglas County Republican Party is locked in a battle right now between these so-called “true conservatives” and “RINOs”. No in-between. No compromise. No big tent.
It seems like the “true conservatives” are here to pass the time playing checkers. Don’t our Party and our nation deserve leaders who are willing to play chess?


  1. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Love, rather than being a “true conservative” is being true to herself. “True conservative” is a meaningless phrase. It has no consistent definition. Rather like being Catholic.

    Am I a “true Catholic” because I believe and practice the entirety of the Catechism of the Catholic Church according to the English dictionary definition of each word in the English translation? Would Jesus Himself be a “true Catholic” according to the previous definition? There are 1.1 billion Catholics in the world, according to the Church’s definition of Catholic: if you’re baptized according to a Church-approved rite, you’re Catholic, regardless of how much dogma & doctrine you actually believe and whether or not you practice. Those 1.1 billion people couldn’t be more different in faith & practice.

    Back to party affiliation. I’m a Democrat because I find it suits me. As far as the party apparatus and its public players are concerned, and for conversation’s sake only – I wish no violence or injury on anyone – if the entire party were to vanish in a giant, instantaneous explosion, I could care less. Those people don’t define me. Same for Republicans, Libertarians, what have you. These groups and their ridiculous dogma can all vanish into thin air. They are simply a convenience, a means to an end, and nothing more.

  2. Robyn says:

    I like Lisa. I like Mia. I like Trey. I like Boehner. I even like a “Big Tent”.

    What I don’t like, is a new neighbor that decides my house should be for sale and when I refuse to put it on the market, they make plans to move someone else in, using the moving truck that I worked hard to restore.

    Only half of the Republican Party believes a Big Tent is better than losing elections, that’s the half that I’ll work for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Now that our new overlords have successfully scuttled Lee Terry’s congressional career, we will have Congressman Ashford for as long as Congressman Ashford desires.
    Ashford hasn’t done anything stupid yet, and he won’t. He won’t make any single vote that will piss off the people of CD2 badly enough to throw him out. He’ll never accomplish anything worth mentioning. He’ll be the Democrat equivalent of LT and he’ll hang on to that seat until 2030 when he decides to retire or dies a very old man in office. Because the democrats aren’t stupid enough to scuttle one of their own.

  4. Old Democrat says:

    Don’t under estimate the stupidity of Democrats, Anonymous@12:03. We don’t like DINO’s anymore than you like RINO’s.

    If a pol is a Republican, but isn’t either a fiscal or social conservative or a libertarian, then chances are he/she is just another corporate shill. Similarly there are a number of legitimate constituencies in the Democratic Party that don’t seem to fit a number of pols. They too seem to be little more than corporate shills.

    I’m happy to see corporate shills run out of office from either party.

  5. Heros vs Villains says:

    I must first say, a strong organization will welcome the challenging of the consensus of the broader group. At times, this will result in something new. Other times, this will result in a validation of what was already there. Done right, this is healthy.

    This situation has gotten ‘unhealthy’. It is well beyond challenging and leading toward a positive change. Instead it’s simply: Republican ‘Battle Royale’

    Lisa does a great job of pointing out that we are in danger of this ‘challenge’ simply becoming a ‘sport’ for some. These individuals are not interested in building an effective institution, but more interested taking down whoever they oppose today. To the so-called ‘true conservative’, it is a game of hero (them) vs. today’s villain. Keep in mind, who they define as the villain is a moving target, as shown by the Mia Love example.

    It’s bizarre and all too common when the ‘true conservative’ crew takes yesterday’s hero and makes them today’s villain. This cuts into their credibility, confuses the voter, and reducing their ability to build a strong organization.

    Can we get to a healthy balance here? Challenging and disagreeing is fine, we can find a healthy way to work that out toward a positive outcome. But the destructive ‘Battle Royale’ is killing us.

  6. RightFielder says:

    There will never be a politician, party, or person in life that I agree with 100% of the time. We all have our own beliefs, experiences, lifestyles, and interests that affect how we think governments should be run. Some issues I believe in more strongly than others. I am a Republican but immigration isn’t an issue that I particularly care about too much. I’m for lower government spending, taxes, and I worry about the deficit. Social issues don’t get me to support a candidate either. So if there is a GOP politician who is anti-gay marriage, anti-gambling, anti-immigrant but I feel is too much of a squish on spending and taxes he won’t get my support. If someone is pro gay marriage but a fiscal hawk, I’ll vote for them.

    Lee Terry may have been good on social issues, but he wasn’t good on spending or reining in the size of government. he was in congress when spending skyrocketed under President Bush, created DHS, Medicare Part D., etc.. Thats why I didn’t donate or do anything to help him win. I’m glad he lost.

  7. So you're good with the outcome... says:

    We got rid of Lee Terry, who you mostly agreed with and replaced him with Ashford that you won’t agree with at all.

    Excuse me if your reasoning is odd to me.

    Well, as the post above says, onto the next villain….

  8. RightFielder says:

    How many years did Lee need to get things right? He had plenty of time to change his ways. but he voted for TARP, Medicare Part D, created DHS, etc, etc. He had his chance. To me he was worthless. Lee isn’t a great policy mind, isn’t a talented public speaker, was never going to be a leader on any issue important to me, and his only concern was getting re-elected. Good Riddance Lee.

  9. Brandi Preston says:

    This is a great post. I couldn’t agree more.

    I walked door-to-door in Council Bluffs trailer parks for nominee John McCain before I was even old enough to vote. I volunteered walking doors and making calls for Hal Daub for Mayor, again before I was even old enough to vote.

    I then worked on Acela Turco’s legislative campaign and decided to get involved at the county level through the DCRP in 2012. I was excluded from a slate, despite not being on any particular side, and my experience with local candidates. Yet, here I was a young, Republican woman, active in the process and I get excluded from committees, state convention, etc.

    The “establishment” took me in, gave me opportunities to stay active and involved, invited me to YR’s, etc. I support a party of inclusion. A party that recognizes people who put the work in.

    I have talked to Jon Tucker, who knows I didnt support him for chairman, since the DCRP election. He has been very responsive and open to discuss my ideas and concerns. I’m hopeful we can move the party forward. However, winning elections needs to be at the forefront of the conversation and that includes supporting our nominees and republican elected officials.

  10. RightFielder says:


    Supporting those who are already elected isn’t high on my priority list. Incumbency means nothing to me. Should Republicans have supported Arlen Specter? Dick Lugar? Just because you know your way around the Senate cloak room and know who to call on to raise money for a campaign doesn’t automatically mean I should support you. I’d rather not vote than vote for people like that.

  11. Brandi Preston says:

    Well, in a race like Lee Terry’s its probably better to suck it up and vote for the GOP nominee rather than allow a Dem to obtain the seat.

    People are entitled to think whatever they want. Love, hate, or be indifferent about Lee, he was more likely to vote for conservative principles than Brad Ashford, and that’s the bottom line.

    I see what you’re saying.. Bob Krist is my state senator. And I’ll tell you I would support just about anyone that would run against him (unfortunately he was unopposed last cycle). That’s the beauty of primaries. But after the primary, we need to come together and support the nominee.

  12. Andrew Sullivan says:

    Lisa Jones apparently missed out in what happen in 2008. Government intervention in the housing industry ultimately resulted in an economic collapse. Instead pulling out and giving the economy a chance to recover, Bush created a panic and pushed TARP. This resulted in capitalists and entrepreneurs in all political groups to unite and grow which later formed the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party does not accept the political tactics of prior Republicans because the prior tactics lead to Bush making the mistakes he did. Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund, Heritage Foundation and Glenn Beck are forces in this new realm on the political right. Mia Love is a Republican but the capitalists are skeptical.

  13. Today says:

    Drew, you are talking about how the Tea Party started 7 years ago. Lisa Jones is talking about the realities today. I would say that the Tea Party has been usurped by several organizations and individuals, moving it away from a true grassroots movement that it started as.

    The Tea Party was move effective when it started than it exists today, especially when you compare the 2010 election and 2014 elections.

    Also, locally I reject this as a Tea Party vs Establishment issue. The pool of political operatives in Nebraska is small and there is a lot of cross team work and cooperation among all Republican volunteers and activists. The issue is a specific group of individuals locally that would prefer to usurp the area’s Tea Party movement and make them their tool to wield.

  14. All of this ‘big tent’ stuff is shockingly thin on specifics that relate to Nebraska.

    Kathy Campbell is nominally a Republican. She supports medicaid expansion. She has opposed voter ID and income tax cuts. But she’s not alone. Of 35 GOP senators, 12 supported transparency in committee elections, something that I think should be fundamental. Someone named Bob Krist. I’d add Paul Schumacher. I have no interest in helping elect these people.

  15. What you did is comment on a new site that has new spam filters that automatically Spam some comments. Even the Wright Brothers didn’t get the Enola Gay up with the first jet engines…

  16. Julie Fredrickson says:

    A first time visitor to the site, I find it fascinating that comments on here are posted from “anonymous” participants. If you say what you mean and believe what you say, CLAIM IT!

    I started Twitter and Facebook pages under the pen name MidAmericaGal after family and friends accused me of going off the deep end in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamascare) and all but threatened to block me or cancel our friend statuses. What plunged me into a frenzy? Read on, Anonymous.

    About five years ago I was the lucky recipient of a breakdown of this bloated, over reaching, restrictive, train wreck of a bill thrust upon us by a group of Elites on the Left under the guise of helping the uninsured. In reality, it was written to confuse and manipulate decision makers in DC and force the uninsured to begin to “spread the debt around.” To my family however, it was a possible, death sentence because my husband and daughter both needed transplants. We were in the happy majority of having private insurance having strategically planned for years making sure our benefit packages offered premium plans with no pre-existing barriers or caps on pay outs. I guess you could say we only chose plans we could “live with.”
    As I delved into the bill it got worse. Rationing, end of life counseling, being forced to provide services for others for coverage we didn’t want or would ever use. It read like a CIA novel with back room deals, blackmail, political threats and arm twisting. What had my Grandmother used to say? “People will never be happy with anything forced upon them, you can’t sweep dirt under a rug and expect it to produce a diamond.”
    I began watching Glenn Beck on Fox and researched his claims about how America and the freedoms we hold dear were in danger from a dreamer who had burst onto the political scene in Illinois after graduating from Harvard (we think, although no one seems to remember him during the time he claims to have attended school and graduated from there.) Couldn’t hurt that he had powerful friends that were so controversial he needed to hide or diminish ties to them; Reverend Jerimiah Wright and Bill Ayers to name a few.
    I drove to DC on my own to stand with fellow Americans for the Restoring Honor Event, a benefit for the Special Operation Warrior Foundation and met other committed Americans dedicated to restoring the honor for Veterans and our U.S. Constitution that our fore father crafted with precision and planning for future generations that I believe was aided in it’s origin by the belief and values of God in the words and phrases found in it. It warned of battles to retain our rights against a bloated government and provided us protection from within in the form of our Second Amendment rights to bear arms.
    Words cannot describe the emotion as hundreds of thousands of freedom loving, God fearing people holding hands, praying and singing Amazing Grace. It was an experience I will never forget and I climbed into my car to begin the long drive back to Nebraska with renewed hope of restoring our country, finding a new church, standing up together with one voice to wake up our politicians in DC and being active in a local Tea Party Group.

    A few weeks later I wrote a letter thanking Glenn and his team for producing such a life changing, reaffirming, unforgettable event and was thrilled beyond words when his producers invited me to appear on Glenn’s show as they wound down to the last few days before they left the Fox studios and began the Blaze in Texas. Less than a week and many prayers later I was on my way to his show with a friend I had met at the event in DC joining me. (Walter had to stay in town and work to maintain his health insurance.) We toured Manhattan with Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower the highlight.
    When it was time to line up at the Fox Studios, we got there hours early and it payed off, we were the first ones in line! Who am I kidding for the first hour or so we were the only ones in line! When it was almost time to go enter the building we began hearing instructions about the process. Two of the shows producers came out and asked where Julie from Omaha was. We introduced ourselves and they asked us to follow them inside. After the metal detectors and surrendering our cell phones Glenn strolled in a side door to spend time with just us two. We got microphones on for the interview and they gave us a tour of the office, pointing out where they gathered for daily meetings and where they discussed my letter! Thrilling to say the least! As he we were entering the studio he turned suddenly and said, “I forgot to ask, which one of you used the pseudo MidAmericaGal on Twitter?” I acknowledged it was me and before we walked in to sit down he looked me right in the eye and said, “if what you write is worth reading, speak boldly and with conviction.” “if you won’t own it, don’t expect others to read it.”

    Brings to mind the controversy over an anonymous post on Pat McPherson’s blog page. He’s been tossed into the fire and harassed in an attempt to remove him from a newly appointed seat on our Nebraska State Board of Education for a post that whoever wrote, won’t claim.
    If you believe what you wrote, OWN IT! We will defend your right to free speech and if you are worried about retribution more than defending a mans’ honor, you have none.

    Julie Fredrickson, AKA MidAmericaGal

  17. Hey Julie says:

    Thanks for the term paper. Also, thanks for calling out people who don’t use their real names when you said you used to do so yourself. Now, if Glenn Beck had looked into my soul and told me to use my real name I will. But until then, I’ll post however I damn well please.

  18. TexasAnnie says:

    I’m pretty sure a “true conservative” is one willing to sustain tax injustice!

    And a “big tent” is a place where true conservatives hang out, clamoring for more tax injustice!!!

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