Sunday, February 01, 2015

GOP: Preparing for Defeat Early?

I've been quiet for a few weeks now. Really, life has been so hectic of late that the blog has been last on my mind. However, watching the political chit-chat lately and seeing it play out on social media such as Twitter has me ready to make an observation in advance of the 2016 presidential race.

We haven't even begun the primary season yet, and already the intra-party squabbling, or even feeding frenzy, has already begun. In one sense, the pushmi-pullyu act between conservatives and moderate/liberal/Eastern establishment Republicans has always been around at least since Roosevelt and Taft. It probably reached its peak in the 1964 election with Barry Goldwater—then an arch conservative who liberalized considerably in later life. In his book "Leaders," the late Richard Nixon quoted the late President Herbert Hoover as saying it was time to let the "far right" have it's moment and "get it out of our system." Well, we all know how Hoover's presidency went and Nixon's presidency created the EPA, wage and price controls (which to his credit he later said that was a big mistake), etc. In other words, Nixon wasn't really as conservative as was believed.

On Twitter, there's quite a sneering war going on. The more moderate to pragmatic portion of the party does seem to hold a pretty healthy disdain for the conservative wing of the party, and especially if you're conservative on social issues. They really can't win without the base conservatives, but they always manage to get their candidate elected in the primaries these days realizing that conservatives have a stark —either hold their noses and vote for the establishment pick, or elect a liberal Democrat who will be far worse. A Hobson's choice.

More conservatives are challenging the status quo this time around, saying that they are NOT going to go for another establishment camp. No more Romney. No more Bushes. No McCains. They want a true movement conservative and they're bound and determined to get one, or else. The establishment camp—oddly enough being helped by the mainstream media (no friends of Republicans of any stripe) in painting conservatives as a passel of kooks and crazies. It's really been vicious on both sides, and both sides ought to be working together.

Honestly, conservative activists like Mark Levin do have a point. Going all the way back to Taft, they draw a rather vivid picture of how the establishment pics have performed in the general election. Generally abysmally. Ford lost. We had (against the party establishment wishes) Ronald Reagan for two terms and, while he couldn't accomplish everything he wanted to do in 8 years, he did manage to get quite a lot done. Then we had the establishment George H.W. Bush who largely ran on Reagan's afterglow. He lost after one term. Dole lost. McCain lost. George W. Bush BARELY won, only by 500 votes in the Electoral College in term one, and barely in the second. Then we got Romney, and he lost.

It's a hard argument to dismiss. Yet I can also understand the pragmatic conservative to moderate view. Their attitude is to run the most conservative candidate who can win. They fear if someone is too far to the right, they won't win the general election.

I think they're wrong, but the right candidate must be found. Mike Huckabee is an ordained Baptist pastor who brings his conservative Christian theology into the open. Mike has been, in my view, treated unfairly lately with the quotes on social issues and homosexuality etc. If you read the headlines about what he says, you get one picture but when you read or hear what he was saying in its entirety, it's not quite the Taliban image they've been trying to paint on him. He's basically saying what orthodox Christian theology has taught and believed for 2,000 years. But he also recognizes that the U.S. is not a theocracy, and all people need to be treated with dignity and respect. But what this shows is that anyone who speaks too loudly of having a Bible-believing faith will get slimed.

Sarah Palin has really hurt herself with her public demeanor and being erratic. She is a woman of faith, but some of the public things she's done have been at variance with a Christian perspective. I would never have allowed myself to be photographed with an activist carrying an "F-Bomb" sign. That's just the least of it. I like Sarah and think she is much more capable than portrayed. But she isn't the candidate for 2016.

In the end, I really don't know who we'll get. I believe we need an articulate, sharp, street-savvy, genuine conservative who can think quick on his/her feet and take it to Hillary, or whoever the candidate will be. But I also have a warning. If this bloodletting nastiness within the party doesn't stop, it will materially hurt whoever does get the nomination.

This is an election the Republicans must not lose. The establishment has had its way for the past several election cycles. It's time for them to cooperate with conservatives for a change. But together, find a candidate who is articulate and smart enough not to fall into the traps that will be laid for them. It's a tall order, but vital.

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