Since I voted for Ronald Reagan in 1984, I have cast six presidential ballots – all for Republicans, but in every instance with my thumb and forefinger clasped firmly on my nose. My two votes for Reagan were offered up enthusiastically, optimistically and with confidence that I was voting for a candidate devoted to individual liberty, Constitutional faithfulness, American exceptionalism and free market principles. In my six votes since (four Bushes, a Dole and a McCain), I knew without doubt that the person for whom I was voting did not come remotely close to matching Reagan’s belief in the ideals I just cited. Of course, in each case, my candidate appeared substantially more palatable than the egalitarian, statist-obsessed leftist that the Dems put up – so the choice was foreordained. Although, in the end, it felt like a choice between an uber liberal and liberal lite. Therefore, in some sense, it didn’t matter that much who won as the victor continued to lead America down the path toward Euro-socialism, multiculturalism, moral degeneracy and economic calamity.
Here we go again. We are in the season in which dozens of would be Presidents are making their final decision as to whether to throw their hat in the ring for 2012. The election is still two years away, but in our increasingly insane system – in which an obscene amount of money is required to make the run – late entrants into the race (as Fred Thompson proved in the last cycle) do not have a chance. Within a few short months, we shall have before us a playbill with probably a dozen actors listed, each of whom has decided that he or she is the answer to our Republican presidential prayers. Thus, the question again: when I vote for the survivor of the Republican primary/caucus marathon, will it be with my nostrils clenched, or will it be with the enthusiasm that I felt for Ronald Reagan? In this regard, it is worth mentioning that of my six previous Republican votes for President, not once did I vote for the eventual winner in the Republican Presidential primary.
Pundits, pollsters and the media have been handicapping the field for a while already. One could list as many as two dozen people who are considered “potentially serious candidates.” I must say that I feel somewhat more encouraged than I have been at the corresponding point in previous cycles. Within the field there are definitely several candidates who appear worthy of the mantle worn by Reagan. Two in particular are very attractive to me: Jim DeMint and Mike Pence. Now admittedly I might not know enough about either to be certain that we don’t have another Trojan Bush in the making. But DeMint’s book, Saving Freedom is a glorious manifesto for individual liberty and Pence’s recent article in the October issue of the magazine Imprimis entitled “The Presidency and the Constitution” is a testament to Constitutional faithfulness that is inspiring. I know even less about some of the other contenders (Barbour, Daniels, Jindal, Pawlenty, Perry, Thune), but their conservative credentials appear strong and – at least at first glance – it seems quite possible that I might be able to cast an enthusiastic vote for one of them.
But you will note that I have so far omitted mention of the four names that garner the most play in the media – and the likelihood is that my eyes will be gazing at one of their names on my electronic ballot as I decide whether my nose must be shielded before I tap the box next to their name.
Gingrich. In principle, Newt passes muster. His conservative credentials are impeccable. The books he has published, the causes he has championed, the candidates he has supported since he was chased from power, all reinforce his unquestioned conservative beliefs. But Newt is damaged goods, thoroughly demonized by the left, and he has a track record of volatility and questionable judgment. I’m sure that Obama is licking his chops at the prospect. I don’t think that it will happen. Still, I would vote for him with some enthusiasm, but I would be worried.
Palin. More damaged and demonized goods – maybe more so than Newt. More chop licking by Obama. It would take a book to explain the incredibly negative reaction she elicits. But the sad fact is that some of that reaction emanates from certain conservative quarters. Therefore, I doubt that she could secure the nomination – if she even decides to run. She is extremely attractive, with bona fide conservative credentials, but one cannot escape the feeling of insufficient gravitas for her to be considered Presidential material. Of course the current resident of the White House apparently had gravitas (now unmasked as arrogance unsupported by talent) and charisma. We know how that turned out. I would vote for her over Obama of course, but as with Newt, I would be worried.
Huckabee. He certainly has played a magnificent game since 2008. If one watches his TV show and reads his words, one senses that his adherence to the principles enunciated earlier are solid and unshakeable. There is just the little matter of his failure to live up to those principles when he was Governor of Arkansas. If it comes to it, I’ll vote for him. But I doubt that I’ll be able to keep my fingers off of my nose – although the stench I‘ll be attempting to avoid will not be nearly as pungent as it was for McCain.
Romney. Can you say RINO? Romney has a proven track record as a fake conservative. The words “Massachusetts Health Care” should be sufficient to instantly disqualify him. If elected, there is not a chance that he will lead the charge to reverse the country’s inexorable slide toward Euro-socialism, international feebleness and economic decline. And yet he is widely perceived to be the front runner for the Republican 2012 nomination. Should he achieve that goal, it would prove that the Tea Party revolt of the last two years has been for naught. The thought of voting for him – despite the fact that I will do so if left no other choice – is deeply disheartening.