Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Trying to figure what I’m going to do tomorrow

Let me begin by saying that I could, in the fall, vote for any one of the Republican candidates still in the race (excepting Ron Paul, of course). The prospect of a President Clinton or Obama for judicial appointments, the conduct of our foreign affairs, and the management of our economy does not exactly warm the cockles of my heart.

But what to do when I go to the polls tomorrow? If I were to be influenced by the robocalls I’ve received, I’d vote McCain (having received five on his behalf and two on Huckabee’s, with none for Romney, despite the fact that I live in a district represented in Congress and the state legislature by Romney-like Republicans). If I were influenced by the positions taken by the Georgia Republican establishment, I’d vote McCain, since both my Senators have endorsed him. (That, by the way, covers a bit of a spectrum in Georgia Republicanism, since they’re not exactly peas in a pod.) But, O.K., I’m not merely a product of my political environment, so I’ll actually have to think a little.

McCain’s pluses are obvious: he’s a stalwart in foreign and defense policy, relatively solid on life issues, and hasn’t been a friend of the GOP pork-lovers. He polls well among independents, which would probably help him against Clinton, though I have a hard time thinking that he’d win that vote against Obama. Indeed, at the moment, I think he’s the only electable Republican (of course, there has to be a general election campaign, and lots can happen). McCain’s negatives are also obvious: he has a mercurial temper, no administrative experience, and a penchant for tweaking his fellow Republicans. At his age, none of this will change. At his age, I have a hard time imagining him successfully contesting the elusive "youth vote" with, say, Obama.

Romney has solid administrative experience. He’s smart. I worry about his changes of heart, though I think that the very public markers he has laid down, especially on life issues, will be hard to walk away from. But I have a hard time imagining him beating either Clinton or Obama. If he were an electrifying campaigner, I wouldn’t have such a hard time, but he’s not.

And there’s more. I mentioned in another post the resistance I’ve gotten when I’ve talked about Romney with fellow evangelicals. It is very deep-seated. Some portion of the folks with whom I’ve spoken will surely sit on their hands rather than vote Romney in the fall. And no GOP candidate is going to win if a significant portion of the base sits on its hands.

If I just wanted to send a message to the man, I’d vote Huckabee, free from any expectation that he could actually win the nomination and confident that he’d have a harder time even than Romney winning the general election.

So my calculation at the moment is that it might be possible for the GOP to win with McCain, and that it’s pretty much impossible with the others. I know that I won’t get what I like from Clinton or Obama. I might get what I like, at least some of the time, from McCain.

But suppose I thought the GOP was very likely to lose in November, regardless of the nominee. What then? A McCain defeat would be a personal loss for him, but not for the self-appointed keepers of the party orthodoxy. They wouldn’t likely learn anything. A Romney defeat would compel more rethinking in the GOP, perhaps leading to a reconsideration of how conservative principles have to be in this new environment.

And, as an added bonus, it would compel rethinking among the evangelicals who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a Mormon candidate. With a "reward in heaven," they might be willing to pay the price of a new Democratic ascendancy on earth. But, then again, perhaps not. They might gain a new or renewed appreciation of the role of constitutionalism and a recognition that what we should look for in our political leaders is reasonable righteousness and good judgment, not theological orthodoxy.

Can you tell which way I’m leaning?

Discussions - 11 Comments

My concern is that if McCain wins, then does exactly what the Democrats would do on immigration, the Republicans will no longer be a viable national party and will simultaneously share blame for the immense problems that accompany a "bipartisan" mass amnesty. This latter will mean Republicans could have problems remaining viable even at the state and local levels.

Bush has been absolutely ruinous - and he will stick to the party for as long as Carter did to the Democrats. I think McCain will be worse. For the Republican party to be viable over the long term, the inevitable over the next four years should be inflicted by a Democrat, not a "Republican" who prefers the approval of Democrats. The disaster which is coming should at least not be "bipartisan." Short of some sort of miraculous speech to CPAC and a veep to match, I will not vote for John McCain and I am certain we will be better off over the long haul losing this election than "winning" with him as the nominee.

This has nothing to do with being a "self appointed" guardian of conservative orthodoxy. It has to do with basic math. 20 million new democratic voters, 20 million folks most of whom grew up under 70 years of one-party corporatist rule (the PRI), 20 million voters from populations which do not value limited government, will be created with the flourish of a pen under a John McCain presidency. After John McCain signs that bill, to the applause of his beloved New York Times, talk of neo-con or paleo-con or libertarian will be as academic as analysis of factions in the Whig or Bull Moose Parties. The best conservatives can hope for is that this amnesty and the depression in wages, interruption in social cohesion, and spike in demand for government benefits it will create, will be credited to Dems, not to us.

A McCain defeat would be a personal loss for him, but not for the self-appointed keepers of the party orthodoxy. They wouldn’t likely learn anything. A Romney defeat would compel more rethinking in the GOP, perhaps leading to a reconsideration of how conservative principles have to be in this new environment.

You are telling me that you are a liberal. Thanks, Knippenberg, but I suspect that damm few people were under the impression that you were a conservative. Not even you.

By the by, who will be the "self-appointed keepers of the party orthodoxy" if you have your way? You?

Some portion of the folks with whom I’ve spoken will surely sit on their hands rather than vote Romney in the fall.


That holds true for whoever is nominated. Some large number of people will not vote for McCain in the fall. I know, I'm one of them, and I'm not alone.

I do think it's interesting to see the degree of religious bigotry in the GOP. If Romney was a Baptist I get the impression he'd be crusing to victory now.

the Republicans will no longer be a viable national party and will simultaneously share blame for the immense problems that accompany a "bipartisan" mass amnesty.

While I am opposed to illegal immigration on principle, there is no reason to believe that the hard-line stance is an electoral winner. Look at the Republicans in 06 who played it up big and lost. Arizona 08 (border district) and Arizona 05 (incumbent Republican in a still mostly white Republican district) both went down being ridiculous on immigration. Santorum made a big stink about this, as did a lot of other GOP'ers who went down. There is little evidence to show that people really change their vote based on a candidates immigration policy-even in border districts.

20 million new democratic voters,

They don't have to be. Bush won about 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004. This isn't a constituency the Republicans have to give away; they work hard and share many conservative cultural values.

Lastly the reference to the New York Times applause is incomplete because that other giant New York paper-the "conservative" Wall St. Journal would be applauding too. The Republican party and the voters are hardly with one voice on this issue as evidenced by business interests and the WSJ loving illegal immigration.

Like it or not, and you don't have to, it's not a fight that we can fully win, if at all.

One of the reasons I wouldn't vote for Obama is his "theology." Does that make me a bigot?

It strikes me, by the way, that you're one of the keepers of the orthodoxy to whom I referred earlier, inasmuch as you seem quite willing to read me out of the conservative movement.

One of the reasons I wouldn't vote for Obama is his "theology." Does that make me a bigot?

Yes. Or at least by the same standard that Romney supporters apply to everyone who even says or thinks about Mormonism.

I don't back down from these people. Mormonism is not the same as Christianity; it has different ideas, and frankly some very scary ones. I would vote for a Mormon if the individual were a good conservative, but in the world of affirmative action it is certainly not a "plus" on the application for my vote.

The losses in Arizona had to do with the candidates, not their position on immigration, and Santorum was to the right of his state on everything - you have correlation, Clint,you are miles from causation. English Only is an 80% issue, prohibiting drivers licenses for illegals is near that threshold, etc. The border issue has to be fought one increment at a time; if it is, we win. When the entire issue is dealt with in one sweeping piece of legislation - without meaningful border security - we lose.

By the way, Bush carried 44% of legal, registered, Hispanic voters. I am not playing the race card here, but you need to take a step back and differentiate registered, legal, voting Hispanics from illegal immigrants. You are being unrealistic and unfair at the same time. Introduce into the pool of registered voters the illegal population - those who did not come here legally, who cut in line, who have already, in their first act on our soil, expressed contempt for our laws - and you will not have even the pathetic 44% levels Bushies boast of.

All Hispanics are not illegals

All Hispanics do not want amnesty

thus the 44% number from the last election (which includes Cubans, a population that is not growing significantly and will not be significantly effected by mass amnesty)

however

most newly amnestied illegals under a new McCain Kennedy will not be voting for the law and order, small government party. They will be voting for the Democrats, thus rendering that 44% number the high water mark for all time.

Here's an interesting take that appeared at VC:

"While I disagree with Senator McCain on many issues, vehmently so on some, my major concern about him is his temperment. He is impulsive and does not listen. IMO these temperment issues make him THE scariest of all the major candidates for President.

"Those who would govern others must first govern themselves."

John McCain does not govern himself.

I am a conservative Republican and intend to vote for Hillary Clinton if she and McCain are the nominees. I dislike her character and know her policies are far worse than McCain's, but the prospect of her as President does not terrify me. McCain does.

Character is the most important attribute in a President. IMO John McCain's character flat out disqualifies him from that office.


I pretty much agree with Thomas though I'd never vote for HRC. I think this one is going to be very bad no matter what so I'm thinking about sitting this one out for the first time.

Xenophobia is the only way those reforms pass, usually through propositions rather than actual government. Obviously not all people who are for controlled immigration are race baiting, but you have to admit that no reform can be accomplished without (riling) their support. That's why republican government hasn't acted, and democratic government has.

We'll never get the government to fix the problem, so I think that its a little fruitless to pick a candidate for that issue. There is no practical difference between Romney, McCain, Huckabee, Hillary, Obama, or for that matter Giuliani, Thompson, Edwards on this issue. Rhetoric was all any of them had, and some are tied to records. All would fail to enact any of the policies (english only, prohibit drivers licenses, etc) that you mention.

I'm not happy about this; it's just the facts. Rather than invest too much time fighting about it, I'm investing in steel, brass, lead, and a future compound where freedom will once again exist, but it will depend on private force rather than any fastly disappearing public virtue.

On Cubans: Bush's share of Hispanics increased from 2000 to 2004, while as you point out the proportion of Cubans was decreasing. Other Hispanics are plenty conservative socially, and not yet addicted to government hand-outs. Of course in another 20 years, they might be Democrats like all of us, since we're nearing a nation when all are dependent on the government--you know, have a recession, the government will send you a check and make it better!

Let me begin by saying that I could, in the fall, vote for any one of the Republican candidates still in the race (

Which is of course, the problem. As long as your a sheep, you of course be in a bit of a dilemma...;)

The prospect of a President Clinton or Obama for judicial appointments, the conduct of our foreign affairs, and the management of our economy does not exactly warm the cockles of my heart.

Ah, with an energized minority (i.e. the GOP) with a Dem in the White House would actually lead to less liberalism over all than a McCain/Romney.

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