April, 2015, and some conservatives are already threatening to not vote if they do not like the 2016 Republican nominee for president. Party faithful are calling such conservatives names and blaming them for the election of Barack Obama. Nineteen months out from the general election. A year out from having a good idea of who the nominee will be. But it is a legitimate issue: what should conservatives who are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils do if an Establishment moderate receives the nomination?
The party faithful - those who will vote Republican no matter who receives the nomination- make the case that any of our candidates will make a better president than Barack Obama, or for that matter anyone the Democrats nominate. That is true. Conservatives maintain that “settling” for someone just because that person is better than the Democrat is how we got into this economic and moral mess in the first place. That is true.
When compared to a Democrat, a moderate Republican will select better judges and likely will not write unconstitutional Executive Orders. On the other hand, moderates also cave in to the national press more frequently; they do not hold to principles as strongly, thus they easily give in to liberals in the name of pragmatism. This pragmatism has gotten us such Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices as Harry Blackmun, who authored Roe v. Wade, and the ultra-liberal David Souter.
The party faithful claim that conservatives who threaten to not vote for the party nominee are not “real” Republicans. That is a true statement. Conservatives are not concerned about the Republican Party, rather about the Constitution and the nation. As it is, conservatives have already had to accept unconstitutional departments, agencies, and programs established by Republican presidents. They do not look at what is good for the party, even though the party is the vehicle through which conservative gains are made. They see that the party is also the vehicle through which liberal ends are achieved.
Establishment Republicans in Washington are fond of agreeing with liberals when conservatives are labeled as “fringe” or “extremists.” The reaction to the Tea Party by the likes of Karl Rove and John McCain are evidence of Establishment disdain. Foolishly, many Establishment Republicans joined with the Democrats in blaming Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives when Sen. Harry Reid shut down part of the government in 2013.
The conservative response to being called “extremist” would be to look at recent history. In chronological order, skipping presidents up for reelection, the Republican Establishment supported the following candidates over conservatives: Ford (1976); Bush (1980); Bush (1988); Dole (1996); Bush (2000); McCain (2008); and Romney (2012). Dole and McCain made Romney look like a stellar candidate. Ford may be the most conservative of the bunch.
The party faithful have maintained that we need a Republican to overturn Obama Care and many recent Executive Orders. Question: Which Establishment moderate will reverse the government takeover of health care and eliminate the Departments of Energy, Education, and other wasteful and unconstitutional departments and agencies?
A favorite line of the party faithful is that Ronald Reagan did not knock fellow Republicans. Okay. Reagan did a great job of communicating his vision for America. The conservative faithful are not the candidates; it is necessary to defeat those who do not exhibit the requisite vision, courage, and ideology to be president. Should conservatives not criticize those in favor of amnesty or who support the further destruction of moral society, i.e., through the support of same sex marriage? Does silence make a “good Republican?”
It is true that we must stop Hillary or Cuomo or Elizabeth Warren, or any other liberal candidate who ultimately gets the Democrat Party nod; but the question must be asked: will a big government Republican turn this country around? Sure, George W. Bush was a much better president than the current one, but the expansion of government when Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House was hideous. That hurts not only the country, but the Republican brand, and thus future elections, as well.
We have plenty of time to select our nominee. One potential candidate- the governor of Indiana- just weeded himself out of the race with a display of timidity that demonstrates he cannot be the bold leader we need. Others will suffer similar fates.
If Republicans continue to cave to the national press and liberals, we will lose our country. When the dictator Julius Caesar filled a void, Rome was still called Rome, but it was no longer the Republic. Voids are always filled. Republicans cannot go weak-kneed at this crucial time.
The Republican Party - grassroots and Establishment - needs to support a candidate we can all vote “for” instead of having to vote against the other guy. The best way to avoid this possible conflict of whether to stay home on election night is to nominate a conservative for president. That, of course, is the rub between the Republican Establishment and the grassroots conservatives. Both groups distrust the other and both believe that the other brings down the party.
There is no need now for talk of not voting. We have approximately one year to get our house in order. With the debt where it is and the Culture War raging, only a courageous leader committed to liberty and the Constitution can prevent this country from suffering for several generations. No turn-around will be easy, so we must choose our nominee wisely; but with the wrong Republican, the American slide downward will continue- and a void will be created. We have to get this one right.
Brian W. Peterson has been a columnist for a mid-size California newspaper, is a veteran of political campaigns, and was a member of the publicly elected Republican Central Committee of Los Angeles County. His psychological thriller Dead Dreams and sci-fi adventure Children of the Sun are currently available through Amazon.com. You can follow Brian on Twitter @cybrpete.
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