Well, my man bowed out. Looks like it will be McCain against either Hillary or Obama. McCain was not my first choice, but he’s a good man. I don’t understand why the more popular radio talk show hosts are acting more like hysterical Kos kids than rational conservatives. And, quite frankly, it’s starting to piss me off.
I’ve been a Republican and a Conservative a lot longer than most of these people. As a kid, I was a member of the the Young Americans For Freedom — the youth corps of the John Birch Society. I was a follower of Barry Goldwater back before I could vote. My Aunt used to read William F. Buckley Jr. to me at bedtime. I’ve been a registered Republican for over 30 years.
And now these people want to pretend that I don’t know anything about being a Conservative. Shame on them. The most strident of them, like Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have defined a nice little corner of conservatism and pretend that *they* get to say who is and is not a conservative or a good Republican. They are full of it. They are not the “real” Conservative Right. They are simply the Petulant Right.
First, of course, the Republican Party is a party, not an ideology. It is a way of *generally* like-minded folk who agree on *general* political principles to get what they want done accomplished. The Republican Party is a pretty big tent, based on the general ideas of anti-federalism (aka New Federalism), individualism, and liberty. That leaves lots of room for variation, at least before the poison of the Petulant Right set in. There were “Rockefeller Republicans” who had one view, “Goldwater Republicans” who had another, hard-core libertarian Republicans who had another, social conservatives who had another, etc. There were (and, in spite of what the pundits say, are) pro-choice Republicans, atheist Republicans, Christian conservative Republicans, straight Republicans, homosexual Republicans, and, yes, even liberal Republicans who believed in small government liberalism.
These radio talk show people think that they can define “real” Repblicans and call everybody else RINOs. Not only is it insulting, but it makes them no better than the libertarian bloggers who are either not actually Republicans at all or who are openly Republicans by convenience only, who like to run around calling everybody they don’t agree with RINOs. The Republican party is not one of narrow-mindedness and petulance, and the voting public within the party are showing them this is the case.
The voting in the Republican primaries should be teaching these pundits that, in fact, most of us are more broad minded than they would allow us to be. Within the broad tent of Republicanism, there is room for compromise. There is room to recognize that in order to govern reasonably, you can’t insist that a candidate be ideologically “pure” in every little thing. The very idea that in a large national party *any* candidate “must” agree with you on every point is simply silly.
But the Petulant Right would rather be pure in their adherence to a rather bizarre and unworkable absolutist ideology and have no effect on the real political path of the country than get into the real world and make the practical compromises necessary to govern a real-live government. And that’s the choice the Ann Coulters and Laura Ingrahams of the party actually are trying to give us. To them, it is better to be irrelevant and pure than to make the hard decisions it takes to unify a nation. They like to pretend they hold the mantle of Ronald Reagan. They do not, and they are being ignored because they do not. Reagan was a uniter — who was able to show us that there was a way of reaching a broad consensus accepting a relatively small number of basic principles. Reagan was pro-life, but was not histrionic about it — what he actually said was that he really didn’t know what the right answer was, but that being as pro-life as possible within reason seemed to be the most prudent. Reagan was a New Federalist, but did not have a problem with national programs he felt were worthwhile. Reagan was a man of faith, but did not try to push every doctrinal belief he had onto us in form of law. And, of course, there was a Republican party before Reagan — the party of Lincoln, Coolidge, Rockefeller and Goldwater, Eisenhower (can you imagine what Ann Coulter would say about Eisenhower??), and yes, even Nixon.
And now these “pure” Republicans who want to “return” the party to its “conservative” roots want to to turn the Republican Party into an irrelevant tiny inward-looking exclusionist club that has no real meaning in the real world. They are no different than the libertarian Republicans who want to turn the Republican party into the Libertarian party. The Ann Coulters who want to engage in suicide-voting don’t want to save the party, they want to destroy it. Their battle cry is not conservatism. It is self-serving aggrandizement — apres moi, le deluge. They are not advocating principles, they are abandoning them. People who act like adults in the pRepublican Party recognize that there are things bigger than they are, and that even if their favorite person doesn’t win, those principles mean that the goal of the team is worthwhile. And those principles are the big things I mentioned — not every single little issue.
And that brings me to John McCain. The very thing that the Petulant Right hates about McCain is exactly the thing that they should like about him. He is fundamentally a man of principle. His principles are not *exactly* those of the Petulant Right, but they are real, and they are good. He opposes torture. Since when does a “real” conservative have to be pro-torture? He supports a compassionate response to immigration issues. Since when does a “real” conservative have to be a xenophobic thoughtless dogmatist? He supports an open political debate not corrupted by mega-monied big pockets. Since when does a “real” conservative have to support buying votes? Have some of his solutions not been the ones I wanted? Sure. I think McCain-Feingold sucks. But that’s the way it is with laws — not everybody can see the unintended consequences, and it’s simply unfair to pretend that the unintended consequences are the intended ones, and that he is not willing to fix what is broken.
And, of course, on many issues he’s pure Conservative — defense, second amendment, most economic issues, free trade, etc. But the Petulant Right won’t even give him that. Some have engaged in the most despicable activity of trying to denigrate his tremendous service to the country during the Vietnam War. Shame on them. Shame on them twice.
McCain is a good man. He is a man who has placed principle above his own political aspirations — which is why he was willing to go against the Petulant Right when it was in ascendance. And he will govern this country with principle. Most Republicans recognize that, which is why they are ignoring the Petulant Right and embracing the *real* and traditional Right. And, quite frankly, if the Petulant Right wants to take its ball and go home and seethe because they can’t be King and Queen, the Republican Party will do just fine. If it keeps nominating people of the quality of McCain, it has nothing to fear — from the Democrats on the left, or from the Petulant Right.