I generally identify myself as a conservative. There. I said it, though it's almost an embarrassment to say these days. Then I saw this story (<--click here) on the Newsweek Web site by David Frum, and I realized that there are others who call themselves conservatives who feel the same way.
Frum is absolutely right on this one. It's the reason that I consider myself a conservative but not a Republican. It's the reason I've come to identify myself (if I must) as more of a Libertarian. It's the reason that my vote no longer matters.
This nation is firmly and disgustingly entrenched in a two-party system - and that leaves no party for me. Republicans have left their party in droves, but I don't believe that they've suddenly switched over because their core beliefs have changed. They've switched because the Republican party has become too extremist. Times change. Priorities change. They MUST change. Failure to recognize that is not only foolish, it's dangerous.
My personal beliefs have never fully meshed with the Republican party platform, but they don't fit into the Democratic side either. That leaves me, in this country, without a party. I say I'm conservative, but don't assume that you know what I believe about any given issue. (this entry of particular note)
I'll admit that I sometimes listen to Rush myself, although not often anymore because I don't happen to be in the car when his show is on. (I listen to and watch and read commentary and news presented from ALL sides - even if I don't agree.) I agree with him on some things, and sometimes I disagree and drive down the road yelling at my radio. But I listen because he makes me think about the issues, he leads me to further research, and frankly, because I can see past all the bombastic nonsense to get to the core of the message. The point is that he cannot be the face of the Republican party because he is a polarizing, all-or-nothing, with us-or-against us figure. With that "face" on the party the message and the ideals are lost. And more and more people will see "conservative" as a dirty word.