This is going to be one difficult column to write, since I tend to be rather optimistic. Unfortunately, I try to be honest, and this election cycle's prospects don't look too good.
With the nomination of John McCain all but a done deal, Conservatives are left with a serious dilemma. What are we to do, now that our input into the primary process was ignored yet our support for the obviously flawed McCain is demanded?
Time and again, it seems, Conservatives are told by the Republican establishment "Shut up and vote for our candidate". It's bad enough when we are given inferior choices. George W. Bush might not have been our ideal, but he was still a better choice than McCain. This time, we were denied, by the Party bosses, the superior candidate, Mitt Romney, with the collusion of an also- ran, Mike Huckabee.
We've seen this script before. Goldwater was shut out -- too Conservative. Reagan had to be shunted aside in favor of blueblood pick, Gerald Ford. Bush the Elder had to be the guy, because he'd been Vice President. How many times must we Conservatives hold our noses and choose "the lesser of two evils"?
This time around, I am not all that convinced that McCain is "the lesser of two evils", for the reasons I listed yesterday in No Comparison. When you really examine the issues, we are faced with the choice between full-steam-ahead Socialism or Let's-take-our-time Socialism.
There is one school of thought that says we have to support McCain, since failure to do so would result in a Hillary or Obama victory. Given the current Democrat majority in Congress, they would be up to no end of mishief. Even a flawed RINO in the White House would put the brakes on the worst abuses.
But how can we know? After all, McCain has sided with the Democrats on so many issues. Indeed, he even flirted with leaving the Republicans to become John Kerry's running mate in 2004. What would keep him from showing his true Liberal colors once in office.
At this point, the Establishment types would say "Oh! But the Republicans in Congress would work to minimize that sort of collusion." Really? The way they stopped President Bush from foisting a massive new entitlement on us? The way the Republican leadership stopped the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill? Or the way that, despite their opposition, the McCain-Feingold Bill became law?
The fact of the matter is, members of Congress are beholden to the White House when it is held by a member of their own party. This is why so many Republicans went along with President Bush's Liberal apostacies. Failure to support the Party's President is often met with the punishment of witheld Pary support. With John McCain in the White House, siding with the Democrats on so many issues, they would perforce support his ideas. Conservatism, that ideological bedrock upon which the Republican successes of the last thirty years were built, will be all but abandoned.
So! Do we Conservatives, as Ann Coulter suggested, vote for the Democratic candidate? That is unsatisfactory since it would prove to the Establishment RINO's that there really isn't such a great divide between the Right and the Left. It would also be an exercise in hypocrisy (no offense, Ann!) that I, at least, would prefer not to commit.
Of course, we Conservatives could, in good conscience, sit the election out. This would, of course, guarantee a Democrat victory, but we can at least claim noncooperation. Many Conservatives will probably do just that, as we have seen time and again in the past. Even the RINO's know that they can't win elections without Conservative support. Witness McCain's speech yesterday pleading with the members of C-PAK that he really is a Conservative, despite his abysmal track record. Many Conservatives will simply withold their votes, with the result of a Democrat victory.
Here we have the problem that we aren't driving our agenda forward, letting the Left have full control, once again, of our government. Any gains we have seen regarding the make up of the courts will be undone all at once. The eldest, and the coincidentally the most Liberal, members of the Supreme Court, for instance, are holding on to their seats only in hopes of a Democrat victory in November. Once either Hillary or Obama are in the White House, they are going to retire and we get clones of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer.
Perhaps we Conservatives should bolt from the Republican Party all together forming a new Conservative Party and letting the RINO's join the Democrats for real. This would be very satisfying on a personal level, but would leave the Democrats uncontested for a period of years while we build up our party strength. Would the Democrats still allow the New Media its freedom, which we Conservatives have enjoyed for twenty years? That is doubtful, since the Left has been trying to shut down the New Media, calling for a return of the Fairness Doctrine. That could blow up in the Democrats' collective face, since it might fire up an otherwise disheartened Conservative mainstream.
For myself, I am going to change my party registration to the New York State Conservative Party, not that it has always been a good fit for my own philosophies. It's just that the New York Republicans have left me, becoming "me too" Democrats in the mistaken belief that Liberalism Lite works better than Conservatism. By changing my party affiliation, I intend to send the message that I am not OK with the Leftward tilt of the Republicans.
But what of November? What should I do with my own precious vote. While anything can happen between now and then, and in politics anything usually does, I think I might actually vote for John McCain, as much as it pains me to say it. I doubt that he can win in the general election. After all, "Given a choice between a Democrat and a Democrat, the Democrat always wins." My apologies to the shade of Harry Truman!
However, I still believe in miracles, even if the one I'd hoped for wasn't meant to be. McCain might pull it off. And if he pulls it off, he might even govern as a Conservative. I won't hold my breath on either of these possibilities, though.
If McCain were to succumb to his worst tendencies, perhaps the Conservative faithful could hold his feet to the fire, so to speak, and bring him back around. That's also a longshot, but we're talking about miracles, so please forgive me.
Doubts about McCain's orthodoxy aside, he is still going to be marginally better on judicial picks, although don't expect McCain-Feingold to be overturned in the near future. And he is slightly better on the War on Terror. Just don't pay too close attention to the courts handling the Guantanamo detainees.
All in all, there isn't much to like about the picks for the presidency. But I'm still going to vote and I'm still going to change my party affiliation.
Electile Dysfunction, anyone?
Copyright Feb. 8th, 2008