I am a long time, dyed in the wool, GOP guy. Since I was a small child I have been conservative even before I knew what that meant and for most of my life I associated conservatism with the Republican party. If you were conservative, if you believed in smaller government and more freedom, you naturally voted Republican. For the 20+ years that I have been eligible to vote I have never missed an election and always voted for Republicans exclusively. Heck I even have a son named after The Gipper!
This year for the first time in my life I will cast a vote for a candidate that is not Republican. Although I am probably going to vote for the Republican candidates in our Senate, House and Governor races I will not be voting for Mitt Romey for a lot of reasons.
At 40 years of age, and with what I hope is a recent and fresh perspective, I look at the GOP and don’t see a party of smaller government and more freedom. I see a different face to the same political problem of an essentially statist organization, a political party that is at the core concerned with power and influence. That is understandable but it hardly inspires me.
President Obama has been an unmitigated disaster and is wrong on virtually every issue and even when he is right (i.e. withdrawing troops from Afghanistan) he sees those savings as an opportunity to spend more on pet projects, managing to be wrong even when he is sort of right. On the other hand the big “selling point” for Romney is that he is less wrong on some issues than Obama. That used to be good enough for me. Not anymore. We cannot afford incremental changes, replacing social welfare spending with military spending and a general acceptance of virtually every unconstitutional government program. In spite of frequent victories by the GOP the government has gotten bigger and bigger. We are continually presented with cruddy candidates that we are expected to line up and support no matter how mediocre they are.
Let’s look at the GOP candidates for President in my life time, starting in 1972 (I was born in 1971).
In 1972 the GOP nominee was one Richard M. Nixon. We know how that one turned out.
In 1976 we had Nixon’s vice president who assumed the Presidency upon Nixon’s resignation. Gerald Ford seemed like a decent guy but he was doomed by association.
In 1980 we entered the hallowed ground of Ronald Reagan who crushed Carter in 1980 ( 489-49 in the electoral college) and then managed to top that by embarrassing Walter Mondale in 1984 by a total of 525-13, Mondale only winning by a narrow margin his own home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.
Reagan is the gold standard for conservatism and while he accomplished some great stuff he is not a saint and he certainly made errors. To suggest that today is blasphemy among Republicans and we are presented with contemporary candidates who all try to claim the “Most Like Reagan” mantle. Here is a heads up. We don’t need another Reagan. He is dead and gone and the world is very different. We need a leader up to a new challenge and I don't see many Republicans who fit that description.
In 1988 we got George H.W. “Read my lips, no new taxes” Bush, a weak and ineffectual President that lost to a hillbilly womanizer in his reelection bid. Yes he was nice and a war hero but that is about it.
In 1996 we were presented with Bob Dole mainly because it was his turn. Dole again is a nice guy and a war hero but he was a horrible candidate and not terribly conservative. He had about as much chance of beating Clinton, who should have been very beatable, as I did.
In 2000 and 2004 we got George W. Bush and his brand of “compassionate conservatism”. Bush would have been a one term President if it were not for 9/11. Bush wasn’t much of a President other than his forceful response to September 11th and he managed to get us into a war in Iraq based on poor intelligence and fears of a Middle Eastern nation getting a nuclear weapon. Huh. That sounds kind of familiar.
In 2008 we were presented with another “moderate” Republican war hero. Seeing a pattern here? McCain was another terrible candidate with an equally horrible and divisive running mate.
2012 and we have another moderate Republican, a weak candidate selected by the lowest common denominator and because he was “able to win”. This election should be a slam dunk given how terrible the last four years have been. Instead we have a nail biter and even if Romney wins I have zero confidence that he will do what needs to be done because he will start day one with an eye to the November 2016 election.
So for my entire lifetime we have been presented with one mediocre “Republican” after another and the country has been sliding in the toilet. Each year we are warned of dire consequences if we don’t fall in line and vote for the GOP. This year is no different. Obama is going to “gut the military!” or “Obama will be even more radical in a second term!” (ignoring the fact that he will face a Republican house and a diminished Democratic majority or even a Democratic minority in the Senate). We must vote for Romney because a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Obama! It kills me how many allegedly conservative Christian voters keep barking about our sacred duty to vote for a pagan unbeliever that is a Johnny come lately to conservatism, a man who seems content to switch his position on everything from health care to abortion at any change in the political winds. Sure Romney would be a less terrible President than Obama but just how long are we going to content ourselves with a lesser evil? Just a quick note for all of the pragmatic “Vote for Romney!” people…
There is nothing noble or mature about trading deeply held convictions for political pragmatism.
As we have gotten closer to the election I have been heading in this direction. I voted for Ron Paul in the GOP primary even though that was futile and I will be voting for Gary Johnson next Tuesday since it sounds like write in candidates don’t really get counted. I have some qualms about Johnson but compared to Rombama he is a dream candidate.
With $16 trillion in debt, civil liberties eroded by both parties (remember who was President when the TSA was created and the Patriot Act was passed?), a bloated military that spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined and government agencies that interfere in every aspect of our lives, we find ourselves in a nation that would be unrecognizable to the Founders (of course women and blacks being allowed to vote would also be stunning to them). We are less than a generation from being past the point of no return and Romney is not the man to lead the sort of change of direction we need. I am under no illusion that Gary Johnson will win or even break 5% of the vote but if we don’t start making a stand now it will never happen and 20 years from now with riots in the streets that will make Greece look like a preschool birthday party the GOP will put yet another cruddy candidate up that we "have to" vote for. No thanks.
Next Tuesday I urge you to vote based on your conscience, not on which mediocre politician would less bad.