The Republicans Need to Show Some Class (on Both Sides)
The primaries are over, barring a recount or two. Opportunity beckons the Republicans, the conservatives, and patriotic, intelligent independents who want to save our country from becoming the Fragmented States of Obamamerica.
Will they blow it?
The signs so far are disquieting to someone like me, who started watching nation elections 42 years ago. We’re watching the sad spectacle of appointed-by-her-daddy Senator Lisa Murkowski trying to find someone, anyone to back her for re-election after she was defeated by Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. There has been more rancor in this Republican primary season than I have ever seen in a mid-term election before. The Democratic media is pitching in with their trouble-making, trying to foment the discord that may be the only chance the Democrats have to hold their power, or at least one house of Congress. Tea Party conservatives have crowed loudly over their victories, and spoke bitterly and resentfully about their defeats. Rush Limbaugh as I write this is engaged in a diatribe claiming that “establishment” Republicans don’t care about the country; they only care about power. Actually, his monologue at the bottom of the second hour today was perhaps the most disgraceful I’ve ever heard from him, and I’ve been listening for about 20 years.
I see two great obstacles in the path of national salvation via the defeat of Obamaism. One is that no-one on the right seems to remember what a political party is for, and the other is that too many on our side seem unable to distinguish the difference between a rival and an enemy.
To those who know history, the great worry is a repetition of 1912. Then, a bitter split between Republican incumbent President William Howard Taft and the man he succeeded, flamboyant and self-centered Progressive Republican Theodore Roosevelt enabled Democrat candidate Woodrow Wilson to sneak though to the Presidency, where he would do incalculable harm to the republic that both Republicans had wanted so badly to lead. Ever since that year, patriotic Republicans have feared another pestilential factional quarrel that would split the party faithful and cause them to lose vital elections that they could win. For the most part, they've avoided these disasters in the past, with the exceptions of 1964, 1992, ... and 2008.
In 2008, moderate Republican Senator John McCain took advantage of the failure of the conservative Republicans to unite on a candidate (combined with the winner-take-all nature of many state primaries) to win the Republican nomination for President. He won fairly, with no allegations of cheating like the ones surrounding the Democratic nominee, radical leftist Senator Barack Obama. He entered the race with a career American Conservative Union rating of 82%, and a 2008 rating of 63%. Obama's corresponding ACU ratings were 10% and 4%.
Horribly, all too many conservatives refused to support McCain, because he wasn't conservative enough for them. My friend Achilles was among them. I don't care how bumptious and irritating you think John McCain is, a 59 point spread is enough to overcome it -- as long as your goal is to benefit your country, and not just to "punish" Republicans somewhat to the left of you. Moral preening is seldom pretty and never appropriate, especially when the future of your country is at stake.
Having withheld their votes from McCain then, many conservatives are now demanding that the more moderate members of their party support the more conservative candidates that have been nominated in several states just two years later. To put it another way, having failed to behave as party members in 2008, they are demanding that their rivals behave as loyal party members this year. Speaking as both a life-long conservative and a Republican, those conservatives who refused to vote for McCain in 2008 have no right to expect the moderate Republicans to do this. They can and must ask for it, but they do not have the right to demand or expect it.
I'll come back to this subject soon, since otherwise this post may grow long and unruly as ivy in a Chicago ballpark. For now, may I just remind all that political parties exist to advance the similar interests of people who do not necessarily agree on all subjects, but who have essentially compatible agendas. One cannot establish too many "litmus tests", or you will render your party too small to accomplish anything. The greatest leaders in American history were great harmonizers and conciliators. It's often forgotten that the very first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, was a brilliant politician, who managed to lead a party that was only 6 years old when he was elected in 1860. During the Civil War, there were times when the party nearly split into radical and conservative (by 1860s terms) wings. Lincoln handled these occasions with deft brilliance, and kept his party together under circumstances rarely equaled for complexity.
The moderate Republicans of today are the conservative Republicans of 1860. They are our rivals. The Obama/Pelosi/Reid Democrats are our enemies. We must defeat them, or our constitutional democratic republic may disappear forever.
Never forget that.