Ever hear a conservative talk about appealing to the middle? I know, we have all heard it ad-nauseam. So desperate are some to coax the all-so-important independents to our side in an election that they figuratively and literally will sell their souls to do it. Every time we on the right talk about a candidate or a position this subject seems to rear its ugly head. The result is that we end up settling for a candidate that is a squish at best and a moderate democrat in all but name at worst. (see John McCain) Or a party platform that is as weak kneed as Pee Wee Herman in a cage match with The Rock.
The puzzling part of this philosophy is that there is very little if any historical data to back its effectiveness. In fact quite the opposite is true. Ronald Reagan ran as a staunch conservative, the likes of which had not been seen in this country since Barry Goldwater. He won in a landslide with 489 to 49 electoral votes over Jimmy Carter. The margin was 50.7% to Carter’s 41.0% and that was with an Independent candidate in the race named John B. Anderson who only garnered 6.6%. I guess about 34% out of the 40% Independents in this country weren’t so hot on their own guy there. Hmmmm……
In his re-election after his first term in which he took the unprecedented step of actually doing much of what he promised during his campaign, and proving that he was, in fact, a “gasp” principled conservative, he won by an even larger margin against Walter Mondale. In that election he won every state in the union except Minnesota which was Mondale’s home state. That’s right, even the bluest of blue states like Massachusetts and Hawaii voted for this president’s real version of hope and change.
Riding on his coattails in 1988 his vice president George Herbert Walker Bush was elected to the top job. Bush’s first two years were spectacular and led into the first Gulf War. The first time since Vietnam that this country had sent large numbers of troops into a conflict. And the military under proper leadership, performed brilliantly in the most overwhelming victory between armed combatants the world had ever seen. Bush’s popularity soared, eclipsing even his predecessor the great Ronaldus Magnus. During the campaign for his first term Bush famously made the statement “Read my lips, No New Taxes!” But in a response to the democrats desperate attempt at creating an issue to beat him over the head with, Bush decided to renege on that earlier promise in a “by-partisan” attempt to address the federal debt. (A debt by the way that was a whopping 3.2 trillion dollars vs the 14+ trillion the democrats don’t seem too concerned about today) The result of this squishy reversal of principle by Bush was the fastest tumble in popularity ever seen in this country. Bush’s approval rating tumbled from near 90% at the end of the Gulf War to the low 30’s. Enter Billy Jeff and eight years of the oval office resembling a Hooters restaurant more than the seat of power.
George Bush Jr. ran for the office in 2000, promising not a more conservative stance than the standard, but a new brand designed by Karl Rove to appeal to independents called “Compassionate Conservatism” which was about as conservative as Rosie O’Donnell is another June Clever. (although I do understand that she is worried about the beaver, but I digress.) Bush the younger’s opponent was a real brain surgeon, the vice president under Bill Clinton, Al Gore. The guy who stated that he had invented the internet, walked into Monticello with Bubba Clinton during a pre-inaugural visit and while looking at busts of George Washington, Ben Franklin and the Marquis de Lafayette asked “And who are these people”. Even democrats disliked the guy, but because he was the vice presidential incumbent, he got the nomination. Bush should have beaten him by a landslide; instead “compassionate conservatism” won the day in the closest election in the country’s history.
Four years later the democrats fielded another gem of a candidate. The most liberal member of the Senate, John (Lurch) Kerry. The guy was a walking punch line. The volumes of material on this idiot was amazing, and even Bert or Ernie could have spanked him in an election. Yet Bush barely eeked out another victory.
Enter the 2008 election season. Send the kids, heart patients and pregnant women out of the room, this one is scary. The democrats ran a blank slate, while there was appeal in the first black (or half black) man to gain the nomination of one of the two major parties, the lack of executive experience on this guy was astounding. My pet collie has more credentials for office than Barack Hussein Obama did. And the republicans put up a guy that made George Bush seem like Mark Levin. John McCain was a war hero and no doubt a patriot. But his policies ran right down the middle of the political spectrum. That combined with his decision not to attack Obama on his record (or lack thereof), caused the crisis this nation finds itself faced with now.
On the other hand, witness the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district to replace Anthony (insert joke of choice here) Weiner. A heavily Jewish district that has elected democrats to that seat for the past 88 years, this is the same seat that was once held by none other than Schmucky Shumer. Geraldine Ferraro also held this seat, so this is not exactly a conservative bastion. The democrats ran a Jewish member of the New York State Assembly named David Weprin for the seat. The republicans ran a very conservative Roman Catholic fellow with no real political background by the name of Bob Turner. This should have been a slam dunk for the democrat, there were even 1000 democrat operatives hauling voters to the polls. Turner had the audacity to run for public office in this very democratic district on a platform that was loudly anti-abortion, he called for the abolishment of the EPA, and to cut funding for the Department of Education in half. Why this Nazi even wants to eliminate the capital gains tax and end all government subsidies. He must be a racist. I bet he even eats babies for breakfast…… So after the democrat kicked his butt …………. WHAT?........ HE WON????? How can that be??????? Perhaps, just perhaps, a strong, unapologetic, conservative stance on issues can win. Even in a heavily left of center area of the country.
We have always argued that we win in the arena of ideas. If the debate is honest and the conservative view is direct and does not allow the Alinsky machine in the press to set the narrative or label them, we will win every time. In the past few decades when the democrats or the press level an unfair attack on conservatives they have ducked their head and slinked off to their corner. Ronald Reagan refused to allow them to label him. He got in their face, showed character and principle and espoused conservative values proudly proclaiming their benefits from the treetops.
We should all keep these things in mind while considering our next presidential candidate. Otherwise we may well slide over the cliff toward becoming a third world nation.