February 05, 2008

Colorado Caucus Open Thread; Update: Endorsing Mitt Romney

Comments, predictions, links, and anything else caucus related--here's an open thread.

Ben DeGrow has a Super Tuesday post, and can't wait for some primary season resolution.

David Harsanyi sums up my sentiments succinctly:
Why do so many conservatives detest — and yes, "detest" is the most accurate word — John McCain?

Why are radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Hugh Hewitt abandoning their customary stance on Republican unity by endorsing or supporting Mitt Romney?

Why would the right-wing queen of provocation, Ann Coulter, claim that she would rather campaign for Hillary Clinton than the longtime Republican senator from Arizona?

Why, many talking heads marvel, are conservatives ambushing their only real shot at a general election victory in November?

Well, just maybe, to conservatives, the principle is worth more than the victory.
This explanation squares with my own motto, the one that appears at the top of this blog:
"Supporting party above principle does a disservice to both"
Before registering as a Republican for the 2004 primary election, I had been an "unaffiliated" voter--though certainly not in the "independent" or "moderate" or flip-flopping fence-sitter mode. I was a conservative--fiscally, socially, in foreign policy and in temperament. None of these positions were in the absolutist, ideologue sense--a healthy blend of small-l libertarianism influenced all of my positions, creating the need to balance my views on personal morality and public policy. As these were not always coterminous, a certain tension existed--not one that drew me toward the mushy middle, but one that made it difficult to pigeonhole me ideologically. I'm sure many of you have had the same feelings.

Generally, the problems of this country could not and should not be solved primarily or even substantially by the government. Nanny-state totalitarians masquerading as government do-gooders and demagogues spouting economic populism while excoriating the "evil" business sector--these were the main adversaries, and sometimes even found a home in the GOP. This says nothing of the anti-American, pro-socialist moonbats on the left, or the tinfoil-hat wearing, black helicopter spying, conspiracy theorists.

Government, however, does have a role (and this is why I'm not a big-L Libertarian) in playing the third-party arbiter, law enforcement, and foreign policy roles. One of the failures in this area has been the inability and lack of will regarding enforcing immigration laws. Any regular reader here knows my position on illegal immigration.

McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy violate both of these positions. I'm supposed to "take one for the party" and simply prostrate myself before the failure-turned-juggernaut John McCain campaign? His "bipartisanship" and "maverick" designations generally mean kicking any principled conservative position to the curb, all the while scolding those who dare to disagree.

None of these problems with McCain's policy positions denigrates his service in our military. A casual glance at this blog will disabuse anyone of the notion that I have nothing but respect for McCain on this aspect, and would certainly find him a strong defender of this nation in the foreign policy arena. But one's military service does not mean a default vote for a candidate, much as one's gender or race should not bring an automatic vote either.

Mike Huckabee presents a similar problem. His social conservatism is admirable, but tends toward the evangelical (I'm Catholic, there is some disconnect there). Huck's main shortcomings, in my view, stem from his willingness to view the government as the source of the correctives for any issue that comes before him. A strong dose of economic populism also does much to dissuade.

Ron Paul. Good on domestic policy, atrocious on foreign policy. While he himself may not be a nut, some of his followers are, and tend to be disaffected cranks and conspiracy moonbats. That he has not distanced himself or his campaign from their antics or their contributions doesn't speak well to him as a candidate.

Mitt Romney isn't perfect. He has been accused of "flip-flopping" on any number of core issues that conservatives find important. But at this point, and given the candidate pool that the GOP has been left with, Romney is the only candidate whose professed positions come closer to my own, without the accompanying ideological (Huckabee) or historical (McCain) baggage. We know how McCain would treat conservatives, and I'd rather not be roadkill for "maverick" John McCain.

That being said, I can't see myself pulling the lever for a Democrat or any third party option come November should McCain earn the nomination. An extremely reluctant vote for a Republican will (hopefully) help ensure that either Democrat--and the variance between positions is quite clear to all those who have been paying attention--will not be successful. It will also increase the likelihood that potential Supreme Court nominees--to my mind the most important spoils of victory as evidenced by the 2004 results--will remain at best strict constructionists and at worst, moderates. A Democrat victory will only bring moonbattery and leftist "living document" disaster to the highest court in the land.

However, my enthusiasm remains undaunted for state and local GOP candidates, especially for former Representative Bob Schaffer in Colorado's Senate race. We must not forget down-ticket ramifications and remain on the sidelines by sitting on our hands and refusing to vote. Just because we don't like the candidate--no candidate is perfect or even ideal--doesn't mean we should eschew our responsibility--our right--to vote. Don't like McCain? Great! Now get out there and pour your time and money into the other races at the state and local level, and work to prevent a Democrat-dominated Congressional delegation and Colorado legislature move no further to the left. We need to begin chipping away at their advantages now, and begin identifying prospects for challenging them in 2010. Disdain for McCain is no excuse for failing to support the GOP and conservative principles elsewhere.

Final point. The primary season is the time to air differences, argue positions, and strengthen resolve. Any criticism of McCain now will remain even if he ends up the GOP nominee. But I'd rather work to sway McCain back to conservatism (forcing the death of the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill) than have to fight a Democrat President and likely House and Senate tooth-and-nail to stop the country from going into a tailspin.

Soapbox/endorsement off.

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