Let’s say, hypothetically, for just a moment here, that some of the pundits are right – that Romney’s landslide victory in Florida means he really might be inevitable.
I’ve heard more than a few of you Newt and Paul supporters out there; “If Romney wins, I’m staying home on election day”.
While I’m not especially passionate about Romney just yet, I’ll reiterate what an awful idea this is. Don’t go there, people.
I’ve got ten suggestions for much more-productive responses.
- Keep things in perspective – Forget Gingrich’s Alinskiite rhetoric for a moment; Romney’s not a “liberal”. Remember William F. Buckley’s advice – “Vote for the most conservative person who can win?” Romney was the most conservative person who could win…in Massachusetts. He was the most conservative person who could make any headway against a Massachusetts legislature that made Ted Kennedy look like Michele Bachmann. Is he the most conservative candidate who could win in a nationwide general election? Perhaps, perhaps not. But if not? We’ll come back to that. The point being, he’s not just “not a liberal” – on economics, which is what really matters in this election, he’s conservative enough. And for the rest? Well, we’ll get back to that down the list a ways.
- Relax. Take a deep breath. The world doesn’t begin or end with this nomination. Or even with this election. Even if Romney is as bad as some of you claim, this nation has survived worse. Hell, we’re surviving worse right now. Focus, people; getting Obama out of office is the key – and while some of you reject incrementalism (and I reject the idea that Romney is especially incremental, and even if he is – well, we’ll get back to that below), sometimes it’s all you got, and you gotta deal with it, and when you gotta deal with it, you want the increments to move in the right direction. Romney’s not perfect, but he’s the right direction – and, I suggest, not just a little.
- Remember The Positive Influence You Do Have – The caucuses and primaries aren’t over. We’re seven months away from the convention – and three months away from the state conventions that will empanel the delegates. This isn’t a done deal yet. I can live with Romney – maybe even better – but I’m caucusing for…I dunno, probably Santorum on Tuesday. Not that I’m thrilled with Santorum, either, but I want Mitt and his supporters to know that to win me (and, I hope, millions like me) that he’s going to have to be more aggressively conservative than he has been acting.
- Go Shooting. It’s great stress relief. It focuses the mind. And it shows Romney – and Obama – that you can’t whiz on the Second Amendment. It’s a threefer.
- Remember The Alternative – You think four more years of Obama would be better than four to eight of Romney? There’s a caveat to this, of course – more below.
- No, Remember The Real Alternative – I hear those among you who say you’ll sit this election out. “If the party loses because they didn’t go conservative enough for me, it’ll teach them a lesson”. That’s not only groaningly solipsistic – it’s not, after all, all about you – it’s also just not the way political parties and organizations work. I’ve said it a few times in the past few weeks, and I’m going to keep saying it until y’all get it right; Political parties don’t “learn lessons” – they reflect the will of those who show up. And if conservatives – and all you libertarian Ron Paul supporters – don’t show up, then the “establishment wins. And don’t be yapping about “voting Libertarian”, because…
- Third Parties Are to “Parties” What Near Beer Is To Beer. Let’s be honest; if you are a conservative or a libertarian, the GOP is the only chance you have to actually affect policy for real. The Libertarian, Constitution and Conservative parties are futile, vote-wasting protest actions at best, intellectual onanism at worst. None of them will ever, ever, ever, ever affect the way policy is enacted in this country. Ever. And I say that as someone who not only sincerely wishes they could, but worked for it as a Libertarian Party member. And remember – you, the conservative and libertarian and Tea Partier, have had a huge effect already; four years ago, Romney was defending himself against charges he was “too conservative”; today, it’s the opposite. This is a good thing. You – we – have moved the needle in the GOP. “But it hasn’t moved far enough and fast enough!”, you say? Suck it up, little camper, and put down the TV remote; political parties don’t change like one of those jump cuts in an NFL game of the week. It takes time, patience and effort. Hell, it took Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater close to 20 years to change the GOP, and even that didn’t stick.
- Be Honest: Campaign rhetoric is one thing – real records, and their context, are much more useful. Romney needs to be kept honest – i.e, conservative – and we have the power to do that (see, again, below), but it’s not like we’re trying to reform Che Guevara, here.
- Numbers Count: Remember Buckley’s Commandment from earlier in the post? “Elect the most conservative candidate who can win?” Newt’s negatives shouldn’t be the dispositive factor in this nomination, but you might wanna be mindful of the fact that 60% of the American people would rather have Slobodan Milosevic for President. And Ron Paul is a shoe-in in the4 general – so say his supporters. Who are, so far, 1/6-1/10 of the GOP. If he can’t win the GOP, I’m at a loss for how he has even a faint shot at the general. I’d love to hear a Ronulan spell out a case that leads Paul to the White House that doesn’t include the phrase “and then Ron Paul convinces everyone that he’s ideal”. Honestly – I’d love to hear it. Rand Paul might be another story, and there, I’m all ears – but that’s the future. As far as I”m concerned, for right now the electoral world ends in November. Focus.
- Checks, Balances. So what if the GOP had no candidate at all, and we were looking at a victory for Obama by default today? What would you be doing now, all you good conservatives? Working to make sure the conservatives hold the House and take the Senate? OK – so let’s say Romney really is as bad as you all want us to believe he is. And let’s say he’s inevitable. Your choices then are “stay home” or “do what you’d do if Obama was going to win – try to negate his power and influence by taking control of Congress”. Why, precisely, should you not then be working to flip the Senate and extend our lead in the House/ Because the opportunity is there, folks, to not just flip Congress completely against either Obama or a hypothetical “moderate” Romney, but flip it to a version of the GOP that, so far, has been pretty Beltway-proof, and fairly dedicated to the mission for which they were sent to GOP by the Tea Party and a newly-resurgent conservative movement in the first place; to govern like conservatives. Keeping them that way is our job. Provided we don’t “stay home” and “teach everyone a lesson”. Because the only “lesson” you “teach” by staying home is that you’re unreliable and marginal. Don’t be that.