L. Brent Bozell III (son of the late L. Brent Bozell, Jr. and the late William F. Buckley’s nephew) explains in the Washington Post why conservatives’ support of liberal Republican candidates has always led to disaster and disillusionment.
After eight years of Clinton’s corruption, and facing the prospect of at least four more years with Al Gore at the helm, conservatives threw our support behind George W. Bush in 2000. He initially delivered by leading the charge in cutting taxes, and his political stature further increased when the nation rallied behind its commander in chief after Sept. 11, 2001. He won reelection in 2004 because conservatives stayed with him, delivering millions of volunteers committed to the defeat of Sen. John F. Kerry.
But any hopes that Bush would deliver on a conservative agenda in his second term evaporated almost immediately. We watched with growing fury as he and the GOP leadership promoted one liberal initiative after another. Finally, we openly rebelled, turning on the GOP over the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, amnesty for illegal immigrants and the Republicans’ shameless abandonment of fiscal discipline. What was once a powerful alliance between the Republican Party and grass-roots conservatives had become a political bridge to nowhere. With the GOP facing the loss of Congress in 2006, we shrugged in indifference. The movement that had “nowhere else to go” had gone.
And it has not returned.
How important are conservatives to the GOP? This year’s Republican primary debate was dominated by one question: Which candidate was most qualified to carry the flag of Ronald Reagan?
Ironically, the man who survived this intramural scrum is the one who arguably least qualifies as a Reagan conservative. He claims to be a champion of freedom but gave us McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform — which, by limiting free speech during elections, is perhaps the greatest infringement ever on the First Amendment. He claims to be a champion of U.S. sovereignty but offered us the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill that would give millions of illegal immigrants the chance to become citizens; that’s amnesty, no matter how much he denies it. He claims to be a champion of the unborn but has waffled in the past, supporting federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research. This year, he won the endorsement of Republicans for Choice. He claims to be a fiscal conservative who will make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but he also voted against them. These are serious issues.
Read the whole thing.
The possibility of a raprochement between John McCain and conservatives clearly exists, but McCain seems to be choosing instead to rely on drawing upon the votes of the middle-of-the roaders. He has been surrounding himself with prominent Republican liberals, and gives no evidence of intending a serious effort to repair relations with the GOP’s conservative base.
McCain clearly believes that faced with a choice between Lady Macbeth or B. Hussein Obama and himself, conservatives will inevitably pull the lever for McCain. He’s wrong. We can also simply stay home or cast some kind of protest vote.