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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Why We Cry: A Lament For What Could Have Been

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The next few days may well make certain what now seems likely, that the Democratic nominee for President this year will be Senator Barack Obama. Should such turn to out to be the case the Democrats will be running the most far-Left candidate in their very checkered history.

According the the respected National Journal's rankings which use 99 US Senate votes to detect the left-ward tilt of each US Senator, the most liberal Senator in that august body in 2007 was that self-same Barack Obama. Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, Senator Hillary Clinton all need to take a step to their right to make way for the new kid on the block.

This is and should be good news for the Republican Party and the conservative movement and yet there is little joy to be found in Red-State America these days. Under different circumstances this year's presidential election could have been a contest of radically different ideologies, a contest in which big-government statism, its assumptions and its record could have been matched up against the assumptions and record of small-government, constitutionalist, free market conservatism . But alas, such will not be the case. As John McCain is now the presumptive Republican nominee any battle of the world-views will have to wait for another election and another time.

The story of McCain's apostasy from conservative principles is long and well known enough that the litany of issues in which he has wandered into the wilderness need not be reiterated here. But the fact remains that McCain who likes to tout his lifetime 82.3% conservative rating from the American Conservative Union when he is trying to gain Conservative support, doesn't really fair quite so well when you take into account how he's voted in more recent years, in other words when you see which way his ideological boat is drifting. According to American Thinker from 1998 to 2006 McCain's average conservative score has been 74. And in 2006 it was only 65. The good Senator is listing badly to port.

With a record like that it is obvious that McCain's decisions are not based in a consistent and certainly not a consistently conservative belief system. This is not the man who has the bona fides to wage ideological battle. And this doesn't even take into account his unpleasant penchant for gleefully attacking conservatives while seeming perfectly pacific in dealing with liberals.

It seems likely that this year's campaign is more likely to revolve around issues of competence and judgment, without any real conversation taking place about what principles form the basis of good judgment.

We will not see the kind of races that Ronald Reagan ran (yes, I know the Reagan example has become tiresome of late, but it remains compelling enough that not using is the equivalent of ignoring the 500 lb gorilla in the room) in which he explained the principles upon which his policies were based. We will not hear John McCain take apart the intellectual basis of the idea of universal health care paid for by the government. We will not hear John McCain argue that the attacks on tax cuts as "tax cuts for the rich" is a sham. And we certainly won't hear John McCain argue the principled case for putting up a fence to secure our sovereignty.

Instead we will hear the Republican nominee argue, not against the very idea of this most left wing Democratic nominee's proposals, just the way they're implemented. This is a very different kind of argument than the one for which movement conservatives are spoiling. This is not the kind of election, these are not the kind of debates that are going to move the ball down the field. The best that can be hoped for is that we don't lose ground.

We'd like to hear about the importance of capital formation for the economy's continued well being, to hear set forth a conservative approach to handling the environment that doesn't include greater government mandates and intervention. We'd like to show how conservative principles will improve peoples lives, not concede the major points and appear as nothing more than a party whose principles can best be expressed as "Me too, only a little less." This is not exactly a stirring rallying cry.

And so our job this year isn't to put our guy over the top but to put that guy over the top, all the while pushing him to be a little less like he wants to be. This is not the way we wanted it but it is the way it is. We just can't help feeling a bit wistful for the way it could have been.

Conservatives, of course are optimistic by nature so we'll use these next few years to turn this year's "could have been" to the future's promise fulfilled. Count on it.


Anonymous said...

Have you resigned yourself to McCain being the GOP candidate?

What if, as Huckabee claims, McCain does not get the needed electoral votes and the nomination goes to the convention?

I see McCain as someone who is getting the nod only because the conservative vote was split between the Huckabee, the Romney and others.

--JTM2005 (too lazy to log in)

Nocomme1 said...

Unfortunately lazy-one I have resigned myself to McCain being the nominee. Even in the unlikely event that he should get to the convention without the requisite delegates for a win, he won't be down by much and considering that the party hierarchy is behind him there will be huge pressure on delegates to get in line.

And I agree with you that the reason McCain is to be the nominee is because conservatives split their votes between the aforementioned Romney, Huckabee (and Thompson as well) not to mention the fact that many of the primaries were open to Dems and Independents who frequently put McCain over the top or at least made him competetive.

Like the post says, it is a shame for what might have been. *SNIFF*

Anonymous said... is a shame.

I'm trying to think positively, but it is hard not to think of the mnay possible odious outcomes of a Barack administration.


Nocomme1 said...

He recently said that he wants to stop R&D on (at least some) weapons systems. In other words, he wants to give the enemy a chance to catch up to us.

This passes for wisdom on the part of liberals. These are very strange people. LOL

Anonymous said...



You are NOT helping with the whole positive thinking effort ya know!!! ;o)