Welcome to Head to Head, a place where the issues of the day are debated by some of the best minds in the blogosphere. This week, Terresa from The Noisy Room squares off against Greg from Rhymes With Right as they take on the question:
Should the next Republican nominee reflect the Tea Party and more conservative views or be more moderate and middle of the road?
We stand at a political crossroads and the path we choose will surely dictate whether our country regains its conservative roots, or goes the way of a multitude of fallen governments such as those who litter the annals of history. Only decisive, moral and strong conservatism will save the America we have crafted and cherished since its inception. Only the patriotic heart of liberty that beats strongly in those such as the Tea Party movement and Constitutional conservatives will win the battle for the red, white and blue soul of the greatest nation to ever grace the Earth. America is the very definition of exceptionalism and individualism shining a brilliant light in a world filled with more and more despotic evil. We must select a candidate for president who embodies the American spirit and one who has the moral integrity and spine to bring our country back from the cliff’s edge of Marxism.
To claim moderation and middle of the road status in politics is to give ground to nihilism and surrender to the degradation of diplomatic mediocrity. Selecting the most ‘electable’ of candidates will only get us more of the same that we have now. Careful who defines ‘electable.’ Those who wish to have bigger government so they can further line their pockets and garner more power will always seek moderate candidates. They tend to be candidates who lack conviction and integrity. They tend to be those easily manipulated and controlled for agendas known and unknown. As Ronald Reagan said, “Man is not free unless government is limited…. As government expands, liberty contracts.”
We have tough choices facing our nation. Life and death choices as it were. A debt burgeoning on 14.5 trillion and a budget screaming for austerity measures that most of America will find painfully sharp. We are reeling from exceedingly high unemployment and a failing dollar. The high cost of gas and food will only go higher. We are fighting at least three military conflicts abroad and more are on the horizon. Our southern border is infected with drug cartels and violence. These are not issues for a moderate; they are issues for a conservative warrior. Someone has to clean up the mess left by the current administration and the ones before it. We have to return to our Constitutional roots and the intent of our founding fathers if we are to weather this storm which I am convinced has been engineered by numerous parties to bring America to her knees in submission. We don’t need more ‘politicians.’ We need to elect a patriot who is willing and able to make hard choices and stand by them. One who is not controlled by the hunger of greed or graft… One who does not seek dinner parties, pats on the back and atta boys, but instead, is willing to be loved and hated for doing the right thing. Someone willing to do the dirty work of politics and then go back to the farm. The Tea Party and conservatism should be the pool from which we choose our next leader. Leaders such as Sarah Palin, Allen West, and Herman Cain – these are the ones that show the way. A way that is NOT progressive, NOT conciliatory and NOT condescending. It is the way of Reagan and our founding fathers – the conservative way.
You know, my dear friend, I tend to agree with you on the issues. At times I even reach for the strident rhetoric you use in your stem-winder of an opening argument. But there is a problem with your argument – it cannot and does not work in our political system. We cannot nominate a candidate too far to either end of the GOP political spectrum without a large chunk of the GOP base, a large chunk of the independent vote, or both.
Let’s remember – our political system is based upon the principle that the candidate with the plurality of the votes wins in a give jurisdiction. And while the electoral college skews things a little bit, the reality is that the candidate with the plurality of the popular vote wins the presidency. Asa result, our political parties are broad coalitions of interest groups, not rigid agents of ideology. We build the coalitions before we cast our votes by finding the candidate who best reflects the broad consensus of the two parties, rather than following the pattern of a parliamentary system where a governing coalition is formed after the votes have been counted. And that is why the GOP cannot – indeed must not – fall for the temptation to nominate a candidate who is identified too closely with either the Tea Party or the Establishment, but instead must find a balance between these two groups in order to present a strong, united front in the 2012 presidential election in order to accomplish the shared goal of defeating Barack Obama, undoing the damage he has done to our government during his time in office, and fixing the systemic problems we have seen growing for much of my adult life.
To that end, it means that the GOP cannot pick a candidate based upon the strength of their devotion to the principles of the Tea Party OR their moderation. Rather, the party must find a candidate who strikes a balance between the two and who is satisfactory to both. If we fail to do so – and I say “we” as the elected representative of my precinct on the county GOP executive committee and a three-time delegate to the GOP state convention here in Texas – then we will fail in the essential task of unseating a president who is far worse from the perspective of both the Tea Party and the Establishment than any of the currently declared candidates (even Ron Paul) could ever be.
What this means from my point of view is that those on both sides of the Tea Party/Establishment divide must accept that we need to strive to select not the strongest exponent of their preferred positions, but rather the best available candidate acceptable to both sides. Unfortunately, that means that the three candidate you proposed – who are,respectively the unpopular, the unwilling, and the unprepared – cannot be the candidate. Neither can Huntsman or Romney (and I say that as a Romney supporter in 2008). The GOP must instead choose a candidate like Pawlenty or Bolton – or somehow draft Bobby Jindal, Bob McDonnell, or Jeb Bush – who is a conservative we can all unite behind and persuade the independents voter to support. And in doing so, we must remember the words of Ronald Reagan — “That person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally not a 20% traitor,” — as we search for the man or woman who meets that 80% criteria for all of us.
“Conservatism works, every time it’s tried.” Rush Limbaugh
In the last election, trying to appeal to a ‘broad GOP political spectrum’ only resulted in the election of Barack Obama. Trying to stand for everything results in standing for nothing, or at the very least losing. Ask yourself, what is it that Independents want? Well, they want what all of us want – a true leader who will limit government, maximize personal freedom and who won’t ‘change’ a political system into a Marxist monstrosity borne of a European socialist’s wet dream.
While you are certainly correct in your supposition that we need to undo the damage Obama has maliciously foisted upon our political system and America as a whole, we can only do so through conservative principles that have been tried and tested throughout the life of our nation. Constitutional principles that built a nation of pioneers and individualists, warriors and poets. These principles were the bedrock that our founding fathers crafted the vision and future of our country on. They are what formed the Tea Party and they are the glue that will hold America together – not some progressive and collective ideal that was meant to herd and enslave the masses. That is what you get when you seek a candidate who ostensibly appeals to all, but never really answers to any. Just another elitist in Republican garb.
Consensus = group think = lowest common denominator agreement. It’s “decision by mob” when people feel driven to conform with their peers.
In the voting booth, however, we are individuals, not a group.
Groups are swayed by what they have in common as a group. Individuals, on the other hand are inspired individually, and not as a group. If the banner (or beacon) of those principles that resonate most broadly with the individual voters, is held high by a candidate that speaks the truth of belief, not the slogans of “everyone,” and if that candidate can articulate that truth with a clarity that penetrates the fog of misrepresentation and mis-characterization — the slander, if you will — that is inevitable from the collusion of a complicit media with agents of elitist thought, the truth of principle will reach the individual, and it is the individual, not the crowd, that stands in the voting booth.
As for me, I will no longer vote for the one who is most ‘electable.’ I will vote for the one who stands by his or her sense of morality and ethics – the one who follows the Constitution and the teachings of the founding fathers the closest. I choose to follow the Limbaugh Rule:
In an election year when voters are fed up with liberalism and socialism, when voters are clearly frightened of where the hell the country is headed, vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, period. – Rush Limbaugh
Notice he says the most conservative, not the most electable. I implore my fellow conservatives, do not dance with the political devil again this time around. Straighten your spine, stand by what you know is right and America will be great once more. Settle for ‘the best you can get’ and the freedoms you have always known will be lost for a generation at best.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same. – Ronald Reagan
I think this is the crux of where we disagree.You argue that the independent voter wants a leader.To an extent I agree.But that voter also wants a leader whose vision they can buy into, and who has credibility with them.And that is why nominating the most hard-right candidate is a recipe for failure.
Let’s use a historical example – Pat Buchanan in 1996. Now there are things that this conservative liked about Pat’s platform, and as a long-time fan of the man’s writings and his CrossFire television show, I had a certain amount of sympathy for him.But let’s be honest – while Pitchfork Pat was certainly the most conservative available candidate for the GOP to nominate, he was significantly less electable than any other possible candidate that year.We went down hard in 1996 with Bob Dole as the nominee – but having Pat Buchanan as our standard-bearer would have resulted in a catastrophic loss of the sort seen by the GOP in 1964 or the Democrats in 1984 – indeed, I believe we would have seen Bill Clinton take significantly more than the 49.2% of the popular vote he received with Buchanan and Perot neck-and-neck for second place as each struggled to garner a mere 20% of the vote.
Let’s consider the candidates (and likely candidates) out there today.If we take the hardest right candidates, what would that mean? Herman Cain – a guy who talks good common sense on the radio but whose lack of experience has already led him to make serious policy flubs? Sarah Palin – a woman who much of the country does not take seriously and who would be rejected at the polls? Rick Santorum – a guy who I like (hey, we graduated from the same high school) but whose name primarily returns a scatological reference when searched on the internet? Michelle Bachmann – who has never won a statewide race? Frankly, I have a hard time seeing any of those candidates – or my preferred candidate, John Bolton – standing with the Chief Justice on January 20, 2013.
That’s not to say we can’t nominate a conservative who the Tea Party will be happy with.I think we should. I’m just arguing that the nominee needs to be acceptable to the entire GOP and to the independent voters – someone who can and will lead.I had some hopes for Mitch Daniels, and I’m still looking at Pawlenty. I’m urging my fellow conservatives to do the same in the interest of finding not the most conservative candidate, but the most conservative candidate who can win, even if he or she doesn’t perfectly check each box on some mythical Tea Party checklist. Failure to find such a candidate makes the perfect the enemy of the good, and will spell electoral doom for the conservative principles in 2012 – and untold damage to America as the nation stumbles and falls under the burdens imposed by Barack Obama’s failed policies.That, my friend, will lead to the very sort of extinction of freedom that Ronald Reagan was warning against.