Saturday, February 09, 2008

What To Do? What To Do?

I wrote not long ago that conservatives were in a pickle this election year because they had no true candidate seeking the presidency, except for Congressman Ron Paul, who really stood less than a Chinaman’s chance of being nominated, let alone elected, and former Senator Fred Thompson, whose early candidacy held some promise. Every other candidate had some conservative positions, or at least something positive to his credit, but none of them represented true conservative values across the board.

As time in this longest-in-history campaign season passed, candidates dropped off the trail, some of them, like Thompson, the more conservative ones. Rudi Guiliani, once the leader of the pack, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter also gave up the chase. As Super-Duper Tuesday approached, four men remained: Paul, Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Mike Huckabee and Senator John McCain. On Super-Duper Wednesday, Romney suspended his campaign, virtually assuring that McCain will become the Republican standard bearer in the November election.

It is well known that McCain and conservatives are generally not on speaking terms, due to the Senator’s maverick nature, and his penchant for “reaching across the aisle” to participate in the creation of legislation that slaps conservatives in the face, and is occasionally unconstitutional. If it was possible for things to have gotten any worse than they were when I penned that first column, they certainly have. While it is true that McCain occasionally lands on the conservative side of an issue here and there, no sensible person would label him conservative.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that a President McCain and a President (Ms.) Clinton might govern very similarly, which is, if not a scary thought, at least an unsettling one. So, with a non-conservative Republican candidate, and either an ultra-liberal or a solidly-liberal candidate to choose from, conservative voters must decide what to do, come Election Day. The possibilities are not good ones.

They can hold their nose and vote for McCain, hoping he will do better than anyone has reason to expect.

They can vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, reasoning that McCain wouldn’t be a much better president than either of them, and if things proceed badly, at least the Democrats will get the blame, and the Republicans will position themselves to regain the White House in 2012.

They can write in a candidate, sending a message about McCain, but helping to elect the Democrat candidate.

They can stay away from the polls, helping to elect the Democrat candidate.

The worst of those choices is to stay away from the polls, which is unacceptable. Every American has the duty to study the candidates and exercise his or her right to vote for the best one. They also have the right to not vote if they so choose, but that is a right that ought not to be taken advantage of. A lot of men and women have fought and died so that we can peacefully choose our leaders, and we need to exercise that right, even when the choices are less than desirable.

It’s sad that in early February, when only half the states have had something to say about who their party will nominate, that we are down to five candidates in the two parties. The Democrat race is close; the Republican race is not close.

Conservatives must press John McCain on border security, the environment, free speech, appointing strict constructionist judges, government spending, terrorism and other conservative issues, and get his guarantee to govern accordingly before committing to support his campaign.

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