Conservatives Only Have Themselves To Blame For The McCain Mutiny

Normally, I like to read what others have already written at the National level and then provide my own commentary to such issues. After all, I don’t have a lot of time to spend writing my own essays on a regular basis. I do have a life outside of blogging and I have a family to support too.

But now, I feel compelled to write my own thoughts as an original piece. You’ve probably noted that my last few blog entries have expressed support for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Senator John McCain. You probably also know that my support for the GOP candidate originally went to Rep. Tom Tancredo. Later, that would turn to Fred Thompson and finally to Mitt Romney as each candidate dropped out of the race. Once Romney capitulated, that left John McCain. In the interest of Party unity and out of concern for what the potential alternatives are, I am throwing my support behind John McCain.

And yet, I read on various websites, message boards and political blogs that there are probably thousands if not millions of self-described Conservatives who state flatly and unequivocally that they will never, ever vote for John McCain. They use derogatory terms like “McLame,” “McShamnesty,” and “Juan McShame” ad nauseum. They chide those who endorse John McCain with words like “McCain equals Hillary equals Obama.” And yet all of this anger and rage could have been avoided, if only … Conservatives (and I include myself in this group) had stepped up to the plate a few months sooner.

Yes, I lay the blame for the current state of the GOP squarely at the feet of all these energized Conservatives who are bemoaning John McCain as the GOP nominee. They whine and pout claiming that they have been disenfranchised and that nobody listened to them. Well, it is hard to get people to listen to you when you remain silent.

Why did the GOP Conservative base wait until mid-February to become energized? We had several very good Conservative candidates on our ticket back in December of ’07. Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson. Certainly, any of those three would have been much more palatable than the three choices facing us on Super Tuesday: John McCain, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. So, why wasn’t there a rally around the true Conservative candidates back in December?

Well, before you answer that, let me interject that I do not buy the excuse that the media did it. Back in 2000, Conservatives and Republicans bucked the media trend and elected George W. Bush to the White House. These same Conservatives and Republicans bucked an even stronger trend by re-electing him in 2004 despite a concentrated media effort to bring about the opposite result. I refuse to believe that those same Conservatives and Republicans would, in four short years, allow themselves to be led around by the nose. No. Something else is at work here.

Recently, at CPAC, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a very profound comment: “There were 14.6 million Democrats who thought the presidential nomination was worth voting for, and there were 8.3 million Republicans on Super Tuesday.” That’s a pretty big difference in turn-out; one that cannot be ignored. And that illustrates exactly what I believe the problem with the GOP is: voter apathy.

Many in the GOP like to use words and phrases like “conservative movement” and “base of the Republican Party.” Well, where was the “movement” when we still had real Conservatives on the ticket? Where was the “base of the Republican Party” during the campaigns before the Iowa and New Hampshire Primaries? I hate to keep repeating this, but even though I don’t know where they were, I do know where they were not: polling and campaigning for Conservative candidates.

I firmly believe that if Conservatives in the GOP had become energized (like they are today with their rage and anger) back on New Year’s Day, we’d be looking at a very different candidate picture right now. But that didn’t happen. I saw pitifully little support for Conservatives like Tom Tancredo or Duncan Hunter. Why wasn’t there a rally around them prior to Iowa? Did anyone even try? It is as if we Conservatives abandoned this campaign (and the true Conservative candidates) long before there was any abandonment of Conservative ideas within the Party.

Conservatives are trying to paint themselves as victims here, probably because the truth is a little too harsh to accept. We have not been disenfranchised nor have we been pushed out of the GOP. We simply arrived to the party late only to find that all of the best dance partners got tired of waiting for us and left.

If we learn anything from this experience it should be this: don’t wait for Iowa to become energized. Next time, hit the ground with both legs already in a full run. But for right now, we need to realistically deal with that which we ourselves caused.

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