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Is There a Conservative Consensus?

With the Republican debates hopefully about over, a troubling trend has developed. What began as sharks smelling political blood in the water as President Obama’s approval ratings began to nose dive is turning into a case of cutting of one’s nose to spite the face. As the President continues to change the face of America through executive order, Republicans can’t agree to put some things aside for the common good.

Media darling Mitt Romney is about as conservative as John Huntsman. In other words, not at all. There is no issue I can find on which Mitt Romney has not taken both sides. He is neither liberal nor conservative. He is simply unprincipled. The man has no core beliefs other than in himself. Whatever the main values of the state he’s campaigning in are – they’re his also.

Two things point to the fact Romney is no conservative. The first one, mentioned already, is that the media has made no effort to attack him in any way. The second is that, in spite of his “chosen one” status, his standing in Republican polls continues to slip. So one would think conservatives could now focus on the one person most likely to champion core conservative values while mounting a successful campaign against the incumbent.

The problem is that conservatives believe in something. That’s a good thing but can also be a problem when more than one conservative is asked to name what is most important. Some see national security as paramount, while others want the nominee to be just to the right of John Birch. The bottom line is simple: If conservatives are looking for perfection in a candidate, we might as well give up the elections now and just stay home.

Conservatives tend to list what they don’t like about other candidates as the reason to vote for theirs. So let’s run down the list of reasons to not vote for the front-runners.

  • Ricky Perry – An immediate favorite of many Tea Party sympathizers, he is weak on immigration, is in bed with Big Pharmaceutical, and can’t debate his way out of a wet paper bag. Forget that he is chief executive of one of the most populace states in the nation and was re-elected twice in a state that seldom offers such a chance.
  • Michele Bachman – Same problem as Perry. Loved by the Tea Party yet proving not ready for prime time.
  • Herman Cain – Love to hear him speak. Has some good ideas. Now plagued by accusations of sexual harassment. And, he seems to only have three words for any question: nine, nine, nine.
  • Newt Gingrich – Smartest guy around and a conservative hero during the Clinton years. But, he has a lot of baggage, and he’s flip-flopped one too many times. He also had the audacity to take a different line on illegal immigrants than the other front-runners. Forget that everyone else has flip-flopped on that issue themselves.
  • Ron Paul – Another smart guy who has stuck to his libertarian principles since forever. But Paul also shows a seeming unwillingness to see any middle ground on anything. And his supporters take it even further. Paul often speaks of the Constitution and the Founding Father as though he is the only person in Washington that has ever read them or understands them.

Many conservative invoke the name of Ronald Reagan and lament there is no such man or woman today. But many of those same people would call him an imperialist for his foreign policy.  Others that see a balanced budget as the end all to be all would break into cold sweats if they looked back at the mid-80s. Still others would rant that he didn’t appreciate individual liberty because of his strong social agenda.

So where does that leave conservatives? If Ronald Reagan reincarnate couldn’t satisfy them, who can? Rush Limbaugh has often urged his listeners to embrace incrementalism. By that, he means seeing the big picture and having long-range battle plans as a party. For that, he has been called a shill for the Republican establishment. Those same folks forget how much Limbaugh took our last President to task over the last two years of his presidency.

The genius of Reagan was that he truly believed in this country. Call him an idealist or a dreamer, but he invoked something that provided the glue this nation needed. America is increasingly becoming Balkanized and needs that glue again. Barack Obama has been anything but such a unifier. Reagan proved a true conservative can govern without selling his soul to the liberal devil. He also understood politics is a process of compromise.

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Many of have heard that quote, but few know its context.

Churchill won the war, but in the election of July 1945, he was defeated. When the news came out, Churchill was taking a bath. He remarked, “They have a perfect right to kick me out. That is democracy.” When he was offered the Order of the Garter, he asked “Why should I accept the Order of the Garter, when the British people have just given me the Order of the Boot?”

He returned to power in 1951. The remark about democracy was made when he had lost power and had every reason to be bitter. Fortunately he kept his sense of humor even in the most trying circumstances. Reagan understood what Churchill did. Politics is not a game of absolutes but rather of three steps forward and two steps back. Until conservatives get that in their head, we are in danger of spending another four years of pure socialism this country can’t afford.

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