With Fred Thompson out of the race, I cast my vote in the SuperTuesday primary for Mitt Romney not enthusiastically, but in hopes--hopes! not my favorite way to make a decision or cast a vote!--he would prove to be 'the lesser of all evils.' I do think he is the least cynically and calculatingly political, and the most honest, honorable, and upright person in the ring. (Not that that necessarily makes for a good President, alas.)
So as you can imagine, I was distinctly disappointed to see John McCain's leap ahead toward winning the Republican Presidential nomination, just as I was dismayed to see that enough people are still voting for Huckabee to give him the lead in the South.
I'll say it again: Rev. Huckabee is a fine and entertaining preacher and most probably an admirable Christian and a good person in general, even if he is a little squirrely about playing the political games. I would much rather see him acting passionately by the Good Book in a private capacity than endowed with a governmental role, as he seems to blur the distinctions of the two in ways that I'm betting would repel our Founding Fathers as much as they repel his detractors (including me).
In fact, I would love to see John Edwards and Mike Huckabee team up and start a really wow private, Christian charitable endeavor to whip some persistent societal flaw like "hunger" or "poverty." With their unique talents and money, they could appear to be so much more effective (and have so much more fun and garner so much more admiration) outside the constraints and bureaucracies of government than they would have in trying to force an entire nation and economy of individuals (which they don't understand) under their (misguided) thumbs. But I don't think either of them really believes people should be left to make their own choices. I think both Huckabee and Edwards entered politics for the power rush of forcing their "salvation" (their "mission") on people whether it was wanted or not.
And of John McCain--everyone who listens to talk radio is aware of how and why conservatives rightfully question his recent voting record and his right to claim leadership of the entire Republican Party.
After this primary election, I had to remind myself that for 30-some years I have been voting Libertarian almost as often as Republican precisely because the Republican Party as a whole and the majority of people representing it and voting for it have never and will never perfectly reflect the majority of my views anyway. My views have made me an outsider in politics for most of my life, so the present situation is nothing new to me. I have no party allegiance, but I usually vote Republican when it is imperative to defeat a Democrat (speaking of the worser of two evils), or when a Republican candidate, like Ronald Reagan, clearly understands the principles of the free market, personal liberty, a strong defense, and the desirability of low taxes and minimal government. Such people earn and deserve my vote and my support. Such people among Republicans, alas, are in the minority.
Now, having cast my primary vote, it's out of my hands until November. The question for me now becomes, if John McCain is the Republican nominee, as now seems inevitable, do I vote for him in November or not? Is he enough in agreement with my own principles and philosophies that I can support him? Is voting for him to defeat the Democratic candidate enough reason to vote for him? Does it depend on who else will be running (as an independent or a Libertarian)?
Michelle Malkin today sums up a lot of my feelings and advises people like me to "get fired up
." She is right: just voting for a Presidential candidate is a very small part of fighting to bring conservative/libertarian ideas into the mainstream of American thought and politics. If we ever begin to think all we have to do is vote for one perfect candidate and then sit back and let him/her do it all for us, we need to be slapped.
We have made a lot of progress in bringing conservative/libertarian ideas into the cultural and political forefront since I first voted for Ed Clark for President in 1980
. Now look at all the conservative/libertarian think tanks, papers and books, bloggers, disparate televised news and debate, and talk radio choices--look at the fruits of the work of people like Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, Robert Poole, Ronald Reagan, and so many countless more people who have had a huge impact on the level and substance of debate in our country about what are essentially libertarian ideas and ideals, often embraced by the Republicans (and sometimes, even by the Democrats). I am so encouraged by this, and I know, hope, and will do all I can to ensure that the debate of real substance will continue to rage on. And that includes within the Republican party, if need be. I see this as all to the good of the country, if not the party.
Meanwhile, how to deal with John McCain, whose leadership against free speech (McCain-Feingold) and for amnesty for illegal aliens (McCain-Kennedy) and whose laxness on open borders and evident ignorance about economics not only scares me but angers me?
I am not going to let my feelings stupidly interfere with my decision-making processes. Choosing for whom to cast a vote is serious business, best done with cool and fair reasoning and balance. I have months ahead of me in which to make the decision. In the meantime, I will not fall into making rash or personal statements against any of the candidates, which will do neither me nor them any credit or good. I hope my fellow citizens will choose to take a similarly rational and civil high road while we debate all the merits and demerits.If you want a Reaganism, here’s one: “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”
That is excellent advice from the Gipper.
Some say that now John McCain must and will meet with conservatives (at CPAC and elsewhere) who do not agree with him, and must reach out to make the case to them why they should give him their support. I not only agree with this, but I will add: this is an opportunity for conservatives to make their case to John McCain
. Not by bashing him for what he's done, but by respectful discussion and persuasion.
"John, now that we're talking, tell us honestly, why did you think restricting political free speech before an election was a good idea, and why do you still think so now, since you have never repudiated McCain-Feingold? What were you thinking? Instead of that law to reform campaigning, wouldn't mandating internet-driven transparency in campaign financing be a better and more moral and Constitutional tactic than restricting political speech?"
Now that John McCain must meet with and cultivate the support of conservatives, we conservatives will have our chance to be respectfully heard (if we are respectfully civil), and perhaps we may respectfully teach
Is the Old Soldier too old to learn and change? Are we too loud and mean and rude to persuade and spread light? Let's hope not. I have always believed it was the conservatives and libertarians (as starkly contrasted to the Left) who respected every individual and who honored the individual conscience, opting for persuasion, not force, not mob pressure or clan politics
, not passionate emotionalism, not slanted propaganda.
So let's prove it.
And read this: "Conservative Sense and Sensability
" by William J. Bennett & Seth Leibsohn (via Powerline's "Time for a Reality Check"
). These arguments make sense to me, much as I sometimes want to hold on to my righteous anger about John McCain's past record. Sense, not emotion, is the important thing in decision-making. And Republicans tearing at other Republicans and Americans screaming at other Americans help none of us in what should be a civil debate.
Let the conservatives and libertarians who think they have some answers show some leadership in walking the walk and talking the talk in this area as well.
UPDATE: Continuing civil and reasoned discourse, as always, from VDH
Labels: Presidential campaign 2008