By Alan Caruba
People who regard themselves as real conservatives have nowhere to go between now and Election Day.
This is not to say they should not vote Republican, but it is to acknowledge that John McCain is in almost every way the antithesis of conservatism. Other than his support for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan against the Jihadists, there is virtually nothing in his resume that recommends conservative support.
What this suggests is that the coalition of Christian evangelicals, fiscal conservatives, and supporters of a strong military, with the exception of the last category, do not really have a candidate. The Republican Party deserted them years ago and, with President Bush in office, mirrored the spending excesses, the entitlement programs, and expansion of the federal government that we associate with Democrats.
When the historians look back, they will tick off programs such as No Child Left Behind, the expansion of Medicare to include pharmaceutical entitlements, the out of control use of “earmarks” to spend $100 billion during the Bush years, and a host of other reasons to explain the disenchantment of the conservative political movement, the party’s base.
It’s useful to remember that, for a very long time, the Democrat Party had a very strong conservative base as well. It used to be the South. When conservatives left the Party, it devolved into a home for radical environmentalists, pacifists, and for all the ills we associate with socialism.
A modern conservative Republican Party began with Barry Goldwater in the 1960s and culminated with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The presidency of George H.W. Bush was the first sign of its demise, followed by eight years of Bill Clinton. George W. Bush fashioned himself to be “a compassionate conservative”, whatever that meant. He was, within months of taking office, a wartime President and has been ever since.
Mitt Romney, in his farewell speech, correctly noted that America is at war. It has been difficult for me to discern any anxiety over that fact other than that associated with how long it would take for America to quit the Middle East and its global mission to hold back the tides of fanaticism and fascism.
Whoever will be the Democrat candidate will take the nation back to the bad old days of Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover.
As someone who has made the journey from mindless liberal to serious conservative, I cannot say at this point what I will do on Election Day. Perhaps I will just mourn the passing of the Republican Party? Or perhaps I will try to take comfort in the belief that a reinvigorated conservative movement will rise from the ashes on that day?
For now, I will watch to see what the conservative talk show hosts and other leaders of the conservative movement have to say. Will they, for the party, for the nation, embrace the candidacy of Sen. McCain? Stranger things have happened.
Indeed, the February 7 CPAC response to McCain's speech was notable for the warm reception it received, suggesting that the political pragmatists in the Republican Party may have decided that Sen. McCain represents their only chance to retain control of the White House. This thought was surely in the mind of those who voted twice for George W. Bush and only in 2006 withheld support for the GOP after years of disappointment.
The prospect of either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama in the Oval Office may be sufficient to insure the embrace of Sen. McCain.
Whatever happens, I surely do not have a good feeling about the years ahead.