So They Say...

An idea I’ve begun to hear and read with greater frequency is that conservatives must abandon the divide between they and the GOP establishment, in the name of “saving the country from Barack Obama.”  It’s no secret that this is being pushed by the Romney camp, and by the establishment media, but I reject it outright.  The divide between conservatives and the party establishment is real, and it’s not going to be patched-over by a lot of happy talk about unity.  The problem is that while the establishment denies its own existence, those who comprise it are continuing a campaign aimed at convincing conservatives they’re merely being stubborn at the expense of victory.  What conservatives know is that you can’t build a victory on the foundation of a false unity that paints over meaningful divisions in the party, and while it is true that the conservatives could surrender for the sake of expedience, they don’t seem inclined to do so in this election cycle.

If we are to accept the argument of the establishment, nothing is more important than to defeat Barack Obama, but the problem is that the tool they’ve selected for this chore isn’t up to the job.  Their strategy has been simple: Divide the conservative base among a number of somewhat more conservative candidates, and then knock them off one at a time, always leaving just enough of a residual support to ensure the division among conservatives.  The strategy seems to be working, and what it has revealed is that the party establishment merely used Tea Party support in 2010 to make gains for the Republicans they really hadn’t deserved.  With the absence of Palin from the field, the Tea Party is either divided or at least uncommitted.

This false unity being proposed by the establishment is the siren’s song they offer as consolation: “Come join with Mitt Romney, and together we’ll defeat Obama in November.”  Poppycock.  This sort of vacuous sloganeering is what has produced such thorough losers as John McCain and Bob Dole.   The very notion that Mitt Romney can fire up a conservative base and Tea Party support in any way at all is preposterous.  Obama won’t be beaten by merely running against him.  The opponent who faces Obama will need to present a clear alternative, and Romney simply is merely a less virulent form of statist.   There’s not much to differentiate, in truth, because what Romney has done is no better than Obama in terms of policy.  Tallying the scorecard, the differences are so few and so superficial that I can already see the race-card play from here:  “Admit it,” they’ll say, “the only reason you oppose Obama is that’s he’s a black man.”  You’ve already seen this card played once before, by Glenn Beck (of all people) against Newt Gingrich, but if Beck will use such a rationale against Gingrich, you can bet the Democrats will use it against Mitt Romney, and frankly, they wouldn’t need to embellish much on Romney’s record to make the policy-based end of the argument.

The main reason they will use this false idea of party unity is the same reason they’re scrambling even now to undo the mess they’ve made in Virginia:  The danger is that given the only choices of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, you might pick Ron Paul if your contempt for the establishment is as great as they fear.  While I’m not a fan of Ron Paul, I find it almost comical that after putting the Virginia GOP in this position, first they responded with a requirement for loyalty oaths, and then when that was scorned almost universally, they trotted out their AG to propose changes that would permit others on the ballot.  The problem had been, of course, that they didn’t see Ron Paul as a real threat, so they were happy when only he and Romney made it onto the ballot.  They thought it guaranteed a Romney win, until they thought about it, or were reminded of the other possibilities in a two candidate race in which Democrats would be unencumbered by their own primary and thus free to participate, and dare I say “meddle” in the GOP primary.  Up until that moment, “rules were rules,” but when they realized what might happen, the “rules” were no longer so  important.

The real problem for the Republican Party lies in the fact that they have so thoroughly compartmentalized their base that they have made it difficult for them to really unify around a moderate-to-liberal establishment candidate.  The pro-life voters won’t go with Romney very easily, despite his latter-day renunciation of his earlier and long-held pro-abortion position.  Fiscal conservatives will not easily go along with him because he’s a big-spender and he is of the Northeastern blue-blood crowd which likes its inflationary monetary policy and its deficit spending.  He won’t do well with those who dislike the welfare state or the encroachments on individual liberty, because they see in him all of those things in the form of Romneycare to which they are fervently opposed.  Cultural conservatives won’t support him easily because of his actions as Governor of Massachusetts on gay marriage.  Tea Party types will look at him as just another all-around part of the larger problem, and those who are generally suspicious of big government will not have failed to note how indecisive he’s been, or how much he’s been in favor of secrecy and concealing his official records.  His past claim to be a social moderate and a fiscal conservative is a contradiction in terms.  One can’t be both, simultaneously.

This is why they must create this false idea of unity.  Mitt Romney has nothing else to offer, except the claim that “he can beat Obama.”  It is for all the reasons above that I know he is not likely to win, but I also don’t mind saying that if he does manage to win, he’ll have done so without my support.  People don’t want a leader who follows, but that’s all Mitt ever really does.  He’s simply not a conservative, and that’s not good enough for me. I don’t buy into contrived unity, because I know where it inevitably leads:  Betrayal, defeat, and disaster.  In truth, but without respect to calls for a false sense of unity, these are all that Mitt Romney has to offer, and I’m not interested.

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