Friday, March 23, 2012

No one "has" to unite behind a GOP candidate until November

In light of the recent calls to "unite behind a candidate" (i.e., unite behind Romney) I thought it might be timely to remind Republican primary voters of a little conservative movement history.  It wasn't until after the "too-conservative-to-win-a-general-election" Ronald Reagan defeated GOP moderate George Christopher in the summer of 1966 that real unity emerged amongst the California GOP.   In fact, for the first time since Earl Warren (a gap of a quarter century) the GOP nominees decided to run as a unified ticket led by Reagan, rather than running on the "every-candidate-for-himself" model.(The truce of Reagan)

The reason I point this out is to suggest that Republican primary voters nationally are just as savvy in 2012 as California's GOP voters were in 1966 when the dynamic political reporting duo of Evans and Novak observed:  "[GOP candidates and voters] know their only chance of success in a state where a divided, declining Democratic party still remains the majority party is a Reagan landslide victory…” (The truce of Reagan)

On the off-chance that the electoral angst being experienced by Jeb Bush and others is sincere, let me reassure the governor that the vast majority (if not all) of us conservative and libertarian voters are well aware of the risks.  We recognize (notwithstanding the ill-advised comments of Sen. Santorum) that Romney is faaaar preferable to a second Obama term.  However, we also recognize that there is absolutely no reason that "we need to get the primary over with."  On the contrary, many of us believe that even if our preferred candidate cannot win the nomination, carrying on the fight and making the Romney forces "sweat it out" holds the possibility of forcing some much-needed concessions from the camp of the Inevitable One.

Furthermore, I would encourage each GOP candidate's camp to realize that we in the grassroots are finished carrying the water for "our President, right or wrong."  Any Republican president who is tempted to go off the reservation by embracing Big Government, uber-regulation, or the rolling back of individual liberties can expect just as much protest and activism against him, as President Obama has received. 

It's probably best if all Republican voters go into this November recognizing the blunt truth that Evans and Novak saw so clearly nearly 50 years ago:

What is called unity is really a truce dictated by Reagan’s landslide primary win over moderate George Christopher. ‘If Reagan had won by 50,000 or 60,000 votes, we’d be scratching each other’s eyes out,’ one prominent liberal Republican here told us. ‘But with the size of his win, we have no choice but to accept him. That still doesn’t mean we buy his ideology or him.’ (The truce of Reagan)

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