Students of history know that the Republican Party was established as the Whig Party collapsed in the 1850s. But those who have focused on modern history should know that Republicans purport to support the classical liberal ideas of a free market, limited government and the promotion of both economic and political freedom.

The Republican Party in Alabama is to “direct, manage, and supervise the affairs and business of the Republican Party in Alabama; determine party policies; issue calls and prescribe rules for conventions and primaries for the election of party officers and the nomination of candidates for public office; settle party controversies; give direction and assistance to all Republican organizations in Alabama, which are affiliated with the Republican Party in the State of Alabama; further such principles as from time to time may be adopted by the Party."

Some Republican party insiders recently declared that other party insiders should not be deciding who is on a Republican primary ballot. That’s pretty strange since that is exactly what the party’s job is (see above). Several would-be party switchers/newfound “Republican” candidates complained that their plans were dashed by having to follow arcane party rules. They were upset to be expected to actually support candidates on their side of the aisle before they declared themselves as a leader of the aisle they had just picked. Imagine the horror of having to have beliefs that align with the party you’re trying to represent BEFORE you run as a member of that party. You mean it’s an expectation that you spend time and (gasp) even money supporting that which you pretend to believe in before elevating yourself to lead the pack? Well, shouldn’t it be?

Some others have argued that since Alabama isn’t a “party registration state,” anyone who has the qualifying fee and the ability to sign his or her name should be able to run as a Republican. That’s wrong-headed. Primary races are run by the party, not the state, therefore the Democrat and Republican parties should be the arbiters of who is allowed to carry their political banner. To use the dreaded football analogy, that would be akin to requiring walk-ons in your starting eleven until the playoffs and then be allowed to put your recruits on the field.

If campaigns began before the qualifying process was completed, that burden remains with the candidate, not the party. While I do completely understand that there are a certain number of local and state Democrats who struggle stomaching being part of a party whose national platform actively denies the existence of God and unreservedly supports abortion on demand until birth, I find it hard to have compassion for party newcomers who haven’t paid their dues, literally or figuratively. You’re welcome to join the party, but also feel free to spend some time attending party functions, introducing yourself around, and getting to know and embracing the principles of the party you’ve signed up for before you decide you’re in charge of it.  

A big tent doesn’t have to include Democrats to be big enough to call itself Republican.

There is an established and well-documented qualifying and elections process for both major parties. Some are attempting to make the argument that the process is too stringent. I’d argue that the process hasn’t been stringent enough. The proof is in the pudding, and I wouldn’t suggest eating the pudding. It might taste a bit too much like that pie from “The Help.”

We’re currently dealing with a “Republican supermajority” that continually prides itself on passing the largest budgets in state history every single year, perpetually increasing gas taxes and throwing money and/or tax incentives at anything that looks like it might be a money-maker for their buddies who represent special interests in Montgomery. At some point, you have to ask yourself if there is fundamental confusion as to what the Republican Party believes. If not, there is clearly a mutiny in the ranks. Regardless, party principles are being thoroughly ignored.

When you have a “Republican” governor who claims the label of “most conservative” (with a straight face) as she spends a $1.5 billion surplus of taxpayer funding on pork and pet projects rather than advocating for even one tax cut; when she falsely (but cleverly) blames the federal government for the unconstitutional lockdowns and mandates she created herself; when that same governor is asked if she has any regrets from the recently completed legislative session and her response is that she really wanted to pass a massive casino gambling bill (that would have expanded state government even more than the 36% she’s already expanded it during her tenure) to gift a lifetime monopoly to those currently breaking state law (that she refuses to enforce), we Republicans have to ask ourselves if the enemy might, in fact, be within our ranks rather than beyond our reach. 

Since the Alabama Republican Party has opted for big tent over big ideals, voters are relegated to an attempt at picking the roses from among the thorns during each primary season. There are few.

Actual Republicans still support those ideas of a free market, limited government and individual freedom.  If the “Republican” on your Republican primary ballot hasn’t proven that he/she believes in the well-established values of limited government, the letter “R” by their name may be just a means to their personal political end.

Primaries are on May 24th. There is still time to do your homework. Be discerning. Read between the lines.  Ask the opinion of those whom you trust. Look at core beliefs and results rather than professional campaign rhetoric. Then, vote your conscience.

But don’t just vote Republican. Vote conservative. 

Stephanie Holden Smith is an experienced policy analyst, political commentator, and public speaker. Smith has worked and volunteered in Governmental Affairs in Alabama since 1997, including lobbying for a Fortune 500 company and serving as Deputy Director of Finance for the State of Alabama. She is currently the principal of Thatcher Coalition LLC. To contact Stephanie, please go to http://thatchercoalition.comThe views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information