Friday, February 15, 2008

A Time for Choosing

I began to write this shortly after Super-Duper Tuesday and the analysis fallout, before Fred and Mitt cast their support for John McCain.

GOP to Conservative: Shut Up and Do As We Say

Merely 10 days ago I voted in my first caucus. I enjoyed the experience. For the record, I went with the write-in Fred approach. It felt very satisfying in a manner best stated by John Quincy Adams:

Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
When I cast my vote, I was voting for the platform I felt best represented my views. The candidate who championed them, unfortunately, had already dropped out of the race. But there it was, officially on record, a reflection of my views expressed clearly to all.

And in the ensuing days following the outcome that anointed John McCain the presumptive GOP nominee, I endured the wrath of the establishment, endlessly berating me for my foolishness. In GOP Has Some Growing Up to Do I was told I need to "grow up" and "get a grip".
If JFK can run with LBJ – if Ronald Reagan can run with George H.W. Bush, if Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can come close to slow dancing on a debate stage after their January tension – surely conservatives unhappy at batting .500 with their nominee can get a grip by November.
Oddly, the GOP machine's outrage was echoed by the MSM: Lauer to Coulter: Aren't All You Conservatives Like 3-Year-Olds?
Friday’s edition of Today on NBC had several conservative-denigrating moments over the ideological direction of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Matt Lauer interviewed columnist Ann Coulter. He threw a spitball about conservatives being babies: "Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, ‘if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home.’ How do you respond to that?"
If that's not a loud cry telling me strange things are afoot at the Circle K, then color me confused.

There are many principled reasons for a conservative to take issue with John McCain. this wasn't just an oops or two. But I'm supposed to set all that aside and be awestruck because McCain's lifetime ACU Rating of 82 (hmm, it was most recently 65 in 2006).

McCain Supporters' "Surge"

Upon being presented with thoughtful reasoning, McCain supporters went on the offensive. Let's start with Why every conservative should vote for John McCain in November.
I understand some of us do not intend to vote for John McCain as the Republican nominee* in November. I voted that way for a decade myself. "I have to make the party earn my vote," I thought. In 2004 I did a few hours of research, examining the candidates from all the top parties, not just Bush and Kerry, before coming to the conclusion that I had to vote for President Bush on the issues. So I know how this thinking works.

In evaluating each party's probable nominee, I will assume that the following issues matter in deciding how to vote: taxes, spending, government growth, winning the war (at home and abroad), border security, and the runaway judiciary.
Oh, trust me, I'm not taking my eyes off the issues. But before continuing let's also consider the bare-knuckled approach in WHY I AM SICK TO DEATH OF BOTH PARTIES for example.
Better yet, how will it feel to watch our boys coming home from Iraq while al-Qaeda dances in the streets with glee before moving back into places that many of our soldiers paid the ultimate price to clean them out in the first place? How does re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine grab ya, Doc? You’d be off TV quicker than you could say “equal time.”

And how long would it take for your head to explode before a Hillbama administration named a couple of Supreme Court Justices who would laugh in your face if you suggested overturning Roe v Wade?

Your choice was to allow this to happen. My choice is to prevent it at all costs. Who holds the moral upper hand here, Doc? Whose position would end up being best for America?

But its not about America. It’s about selfishness. It’s about the arrogant belief that your conscience is more important than the future of the country. That’s one helluva conscience you’ve got there, Doc. Why not feed it a little more self-inflated ego and top it off with a little moral blindness while you’re at it.
There we go -- that's what I needed to hear. Tell me to follow the heard or else it's all my fault. Even one of my favorite columnists tells me, Yes, McCain!.

Thoughts on 2006

I voted similarly in the midterm elections, writing in conservative names against two sitting RINOs. I didn't stay home. The message of 2006 was lost and spun by the GOP that the losses indicated that the party needed to move further to the left. For months I shook my head because I could not imagine analysts being that thick. It almost makes you want to grab a party official at both shoulders and shout, "We screamed that the party was moving to far to the left for our support, and your solution is to move further to the left!?!"

Much of the reason behind this idiocy has been the complete disregard for the "small government" conservatives. After 2004, they were cast aside. I vividly remember people voting Democrat in 2006 because they were seen -- and not without merit -- as better stewards of financial responsibility. As if this wasn't yet another wake-up call to the GOP.

Oh, but it's Conservatives on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown?
“This year’s election will be unusually consequential. In 2006, Democrats regained control of both houses of Congress. Democrats also now hold a majority of governors’ mansions and state legislatures. The Left long has been regnant on America’s campuses, in the mainstream news media, in the entertainment industry, and in the unions. A Clinton or Obama victory would put all levers of power into the same hands. What would Democratic Party bosses do with that? How about statehood for Washington, D.C., which would provide two new Democratic votes in the Senate? How about appointing judges who regard the Constitution as clay, and using immigration policy to expand the Left’s electoral margins? These and other creative maneuvers could create an anti-conservative majority that would last a generation or more. Most worrisome of all: Americans today are engaged in a conflict as serious as any we have ever fought... Thinking hard about such questions over the months ahead would be not just alright; it would be commendable—and conservative.” —Clifford May
Ah. But ....what about the Supreme Court?Yes, let's turn some attention to the Supreme Court. My votes for George W. Bush produced two justices I'm happy with. Do I believe McCain's promise? At this point, no. Nor did I believe Rudy's promise either. Why not? All it takes is simple sleight of hand for either to have said, "But now the situation has changed." Insert whatever reasoning you care for: Democrat House and Senate majorities, "bipartisianship", whatever. What I needed to believe this was a history of being a conservative, and thus far I found that history lacking.

The "Youth Vote"

It seems to me that the GOP has been busy booting the small government and less spending crowds from its midst. And now, they have to top it off be smacking conservatives around.

But I also think the GOP was done very little to attract the millions of new voters. Let's consider the group of Americans born between 1982-1990. This 8 year span of new voters has little or not recollection of Ronald Reagan's presidency. They may have overheard some grumblings about the President George H. W. Bush. But the older ones will recall the good times of the 1990's which happened to have had Bill Clinton in the White House.

But mostly they will recall the last seven years of George W. Bush as president. And all of the nonstop negative press that has gone on since he took office. I think the entire group would be hard-pressed to remember a time in which "everyone" hated the sitting president. Also keep in mind that these folks likely are now in, or recently left, the lands of public and higher education.

I wonder how many of these new voters have half a clue about the policy considerations they have made when it comes to their choice for president. From my interactions with this younger generation, I find myself currently underwhelmed.

Invoking Reagan

Sound reasoning in favor of McCain may be found in Thoughts on the Current Mess. More thoughts swirling around are presented in Who Wants to be a Loser? But they're really going for the jugular when the name Ronald Reagan is brought up. We're told we need to be pragmatic instead of Redefining Conservatism
This just in: Ronald Reagan is dead and he's not coming back. Now, can conservatives please move on?

Reagan always spoke about the future and its possibilities. Today's conservatives, however, can't seem to break with the past and the nostalgia for the Reagan years. Even in his letter to the American people in 1994 in which he revealed he suffered from Alzheimer's disease, Reagan wrote of his "eternal optimism" for the country's future. Too many modern conservatives seem embedded in a concrete slab of pessimism, preferring to go over a bridge and drown rather than "compromise" their "principles." If you can't get elected, your principles can be talked about on the lecture circuit, but are unlikely to be adopted in Washington.
Or perhaps we need to toe the line and follow the 11th commandment, mentioned in Parties Trade Historical Roles.
"Thou shalt not attack other Republicans," decrees Ronald Reagan's Eleventh Commandment.
I personally don't think this was intended to allow the foxes free access to the henhouse. More recently this crusher comes along: Ronald Reagan Would Back McCain By Michael Reagan. At this point, I respectfully disagree. I don't think I'm the only one that can throw Reagan right back at the GOP:
I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.
Has the Republican Party left me? Let me spend a little more time reading and rereading The Speech, a Candidate's Statement on Federalism, and the Executive Order on Federalism. If I can find John McCain in there, he deserves my vote.

In the meantime however I wonder if this is The Last Straw, or, The Final Nail In...
As for the future of the disenfranchised conservatives that the Republican party has pushed off to the “right wing” and relegated to a minority faction of the party, there may be hope on the horizon. There is a grass roots effort going on now to establish the American Conservative Party, which could become a home for disenfranchised conservative Republicans.

It’s going to take time for this effort to get off the ground and become a viable party. I suggest you look at the discussions as this effort is being formed to consider if this is something you may be interested in. Right now it is in the discussion stages, just as our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were at one point in history.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
-- Thomas Jefferson, from the Declaration of Independence.

God Bless America and help to guide her through these troubled times.

Update: One item I intended to mention in regard to the youth vote, or even the general overall "pulse" was in regard to voter turnout. Consider as a small example the state of Virginia: Democrats 985280, Republicans 487478. The Democrats have a 2:1 advantage in voting. This trend has been noticeable in a number of states as well.

That is the core fault with the 2008 election. It will not matter who the Republican candidate is. The seeds of the downfall were sown years ago, and the grassroots efforts are the only thing that can rebuild it. In 2008, this will not be possible.

Therefore, now is the time to go with principle and start rebuilding at the local level. The only question that remains is, do we continue with the GOP or start something new. And our answer will be gleaned from the GOP's response to conservatives -- not vice-versa.

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