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Voting For McCain

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Despite John McCain’s numerous flaws, conservatives are going to have to swallow hard and campaign and vote for him for president. After all, we’ve done it before.

For all his faults, McCain is at least as conservative as George W. Bush. On immigration, as bad as McCain is, he will be no worse than Bush. On taxes, when was the last time GW fought for a new tax cut or against the continued growth of government? The war on Islamic extremism? GW followed Cheney and Rumsfeld to the right course in Iraq and elsewhere at first, but has now allowed Condi Rice to essentially adopt the Clinton’s foreign policy of the 1990s. Judges? Just think Harriet Meiers. Yet most conservatives who rail against McCain voted for Bush – twice – despite his “compassionate” conservatism.

The conservative movement seems to have fallen into the trap of waiting for a man on a white horse to ride to the rescue. Where is the next Reagan? Who will speak of consevative values in ways that get through to the masses? And what do we do now when we don’t have one?

But conservatism does not need a single, charismatic spokesman. We don’t need Fred or Mitt to save us. Conservatives have talk radio and the Wall Street Journal editorial page (except on immigration). We have online bloggers and the Heritage Foundation. OK, we don’t have a true conservative spokesman to run for president. So what? Reagan did that as well as anyone could, and as soon as he was gone the government and culture slid back to the left in no time. Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America captured the attention of the public…for about one year, and again the backslide.

We had and have our share of clarion voices. But they are not the way to ultimately move this country back toward true conservatism. Conservatives need to do what the left has done for decades, fight for our beliefs on the battlefields that matter. We need teachers in the classroom, starting in the elementary schools on up. (David Horowitz is leading a campaign to shame at least higher education into allowing diversity of ideas, not just identity, on our college campuses.) We need more conservative voices in the mainstream media (not all flocking to Fox). We need to fight the tide of leftist propaganda that permeates our whole culture. But all of this will take time, lots of time.

Pat Buchanan endorsed George W. Bush at the 1992 GOP convention in a speech that accurately described the cultural war that we are still engaged in. Buchanan (and so many others) supported Bush despite his lack of deep seated conservative ideals. Bush was not going to win the culture wars for us. Conservatves knew what we were getting with Bush, but the alternative was so much worse. That is clearly the case again.

McCain is one of the last candidates a conservative could hope for as the GOP nominee. But just as we swallowed Bush to avoid a President Gore or Kerry, whatever damage a President McCain might do to the party and country, it will be far less than that likely to be caused by President Clinton or Obama.

There could be a time when it would be better to lose an election to let the country and the party see the damage that socialism (even the watered down “moderate/independent” version) will do. Even the French are learning and may be pulling back from the precipice after enough experience with the worker’s paradise model of governing. But with Islamists on the offensive the world over, and six Supreme Court Justices over 70 years old at the start of the next presidential term, now is not that time for us.

Conservatives have to vote for McCain, not because they like him, and certainly not because he likes them, but because he is the best we can get at this particular time. Opting for the lesser of two evils may not be inspirational, but it is often the only right thing to do.

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Written by smalltalkwitht

February 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm

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