The race is over. The Republican presidential nomination is set. Mitt Romney is bowing out of the race. He did his best. He's a good man. I have nothing to complain about towards him as a candidate. He's not going to be our nominee. He is doing the right thing for the Republican party.
So, now what?
My decision is an easy one. I'll be voting in the Texas primary in March and McCain will have my vote. I'm a Republican. This is my party. Party loyalty is a good thing.
The Republican party is at a crossroads. The question is do you, as a conservative voter, want your agenda to remain viable or do you want to be in the wilderness? It's your choice. And, yes, it is as basic as that.
Hugh Hewitt, a solid Romney supporter, even the author of a book about Romney, wrote an interesting piece for Townhall.com yesterday. His message was to list seven reasons voters should support the GOP's nominee. Like everyone else, he sees the writing on the wall. His seven reasons to support the nominee? Six Supreme Court justices are over the age of 68. The seventh reason? The war in Iraq.
"Folks who want to take their ball and go home have to realize that even three SCOTUS appointments could revolutionize the way elections are handled in this country in a stroke, mandating the submission of redistricting lines to court scrutiny for 'fairness'," wrote Hewitt.
And, Daniel Henninger in today's WSJ.com wrote, "There are murmurs of heading into the political wilderness. Sit this one out. Rather than sell the party's soul to John McCain, let Hillary have it, or Barack. Go into opposition for four years while the party gets its head together and comes up with an authentic conservative candidate. If this sourness takes hold at the margin, say among GOP anti-immigrant voters, it might happen. The wilderness is a good place to find yourself, if you're a prophet. There are reasons, though, why a principled political retreat won't make conservative prospects better. The point of a principled retreat would be to rediscover coherence amid doctrinal confusion. The exact opposite is likely to happen."
Let me explain. By numbers, the Republican party is a minority party. There are simply more Democrats than Republicans. For more than 40 years the Republican party was the minority party. When the Republican revolution swept into D.C. in 1994, the party took the leadership of both houses of Congress. It was all unchartered waters. Heady stuff. And, the presidency of Clinton was not allowed to run anywhere the polls showed that day. Republicans demanded and got welfare reform, and yes, a balanced budget. I know that Clinton likes to take credit for both of those moves, as he has no legacy to fall back on, but without a Republican majority neither of these two things would have happened.
So, now, with a Democrat controlled House and Senate, and with no real possibility of any change on that front, the Republican party must rally behind the McCain candidacy. We are a two party country. The differences between party philosophies are stark. Republican retention of the White House is the way to stay viable as a party.
The conservative movement within my party came into being with the Republican revolution. I'm speaking about today's conservatives. Today's conservatives would not be backing Ronald Reagan in the race. The folks that rallied around the 'conservative' candidates, Romney and Thompson, were the ones who have a past of not supporting Reagan in his runs for president. The party was suffering growing pains with the Reagan/GHW Bush race, too. Remember? Remember GHW Bush mocking Reagan's economic policy as voo-doo economics? I do. Reagan won out and they made peace. Reagan even put Bush on his ticket.
Conservatives like to say they are conservatives, not that they are Republicans. In the South, the conservative party was the old Democrat party. The Republican party was virtually non-existant when I was born in Biloxi, Mississippi. My parents had to register as Democrats to vote. Think about that. It was with the help of Republicans that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Act passed. Southern Dems voted against it - including Al Gore, Sr and William Fullbright, the mentor of Bill Clinton. Times change.
The Republican party is now a big tent party. I know the other side likes to say otherwise, but what is this very election cycle proving? The Democrats are now the party of identity politics. Republicans are united with some basic principles. Up until the 90's, after the success of Reagan's two terms, social conservatism was not a big part of the Republican agenda. Republicans were referred to as the 'daddy party', with the core beliefs of national security, fiscal responsibility, and judicial prudence. Democrats were the party of the nanny state. They ushered in the huge social programs paid for by the taxpayer. This was the Democrats way of winning elections. They used the strategy of keeping voters dependent and beholden to their politicians. Times are different now.
So, what are you going to do? If your top priorities are national security, fiscal responsibility and judicial prudence, you will stand with 'real' Republicans and support John McCain. Hold your nose if you have to, its doable. We are a nation at war. Will you show your support for the troops by allowing the war in Iraq to go down in defeat? Do you want the Bush tax cuts, which have kept this economy going since 9/11, to remain permanent? Do you want judges, especially on the Supreme Court, that read and use the Constitution, not whatever the political philosophy du jour happens to be? Then you support John McCain.
"The idea of a concession on national security by conservatives is especially troubling. After six years of blood and treasure, and with the counterinsurgency working, to consciously turn over Iraq to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama...words fail", said Henninger.
For several decades now, social conservatives have been successful in moving their agenda forward. The Republican party has grown with them. That is what parties do. Successful parties, anyway. Republicans have used God, guns and gays for votes just as Democrats have used social programs and entitlements.
These are dangerous times for our country. The grown ups have to be in charge. I know McCain is not an ideal candidate. I have found myself swearing at him for some of his votes, too. There is no such thing as perfect in life or in mortal humans. McCain has a temper, some are saying. Really? So? Who doesn't? Who was the last mild mannered politican you can remember? Don't say Reagan. Remember his flash of anger when he demanded to be heard in a debate, saying he paid for the microphone? I hope you expect no less of a President.
McCain is putting together a strong team of advisors. He is supported by Ted Olson and Miguel Estrada as to the judges issue. He is supported by Phil Gramm and Jack Kemp as to the economics policy issues. He has the support of Rudy Giuliani.
By leaving the race today, Mitt Romney is supporting his Republican party. Romney was not the candidate of choice for any of the 'conservatives' until the field dwindled. If the social issues were the most important issues, to most Republicans, the other candidates would have risen to the top. What was wrong with Duncan Hunter? Tancredo? I don't think Thompson really wanted the job but why wasn't he successful? And, none of them were down the line perfect, either.
Are you going to do the right thing for Republicans? Our candidate can begin a strong national campaign, way ahead of the Democrats, who will likely go all the way to their convention this summer. Republicans look at the world as happy warriors. Republicans look at the glass as half full.