Ideas vs. People

My friends are suddenly getting political on their blogs (well, not really sudden in Adam's case) and with Super Tuesday right around the corner, who can blame them? Hell, even the notorious fence-sitter and anti-political (publicly, that is) Kory threw his hat into the ring. No matter which way your chad hangs, you should check out John's recent post on why he choose Obama and other political ponderings. I don't agree with him on several fronts, but it's good writing nonetheless. So good, it's inspired me to wax politico a bit here.

With the failure of the legit conservative campaigns (i.e. Duncan Hunter and Fred Thompson) and the less-than-inspiring support Mitt Romney has achieved thus far, there has been some understandable wailing by conservatives about the state of the GOP. Among the remaining Republican candidates, there is one genuine conservative on some core issues but basically abandons others (Huckabee), a moderate-in-conservative's-clothing who is generally if not as dramatically out of step on a large number of issues (McCain), and one candidate (Romney) whose current positions are conservative friendly but have shifted from his early voting record so much that some people really don't know for certain how trustworthy he might be if he actually won the general election. Oh, and there's Ron Paul too. Trust me on this one, conservatives are definitely asking "Has our party abandoned us?"

Well, color me badd crazy, but I believe it has not. I know all of you carry your mini-Constitution with you at all times so please re-read Article II, Section 1: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." President...that's singular, you know, an individual. Hell, it's a human for cryin' out loud, not a robot. One human being, that's who gets elected and holds the job of President. Not some perfect vessel and that's a fact that must be repeated again and again until people understand that winning and losing elections and choosing leaders is about picking the right person from the available choices. Ideas don't run for president, people do. While my party's remaining options certainly reflect our view of the ideas each man supports, I think it's a grave mistake to read the choice of one man over another as the final and definitive statement of what ideas we truly support. I, for one, as a Republican would like to know that the candidate we end up with has more people behind him than just the ones who agree with every one of his ideas.

If anybody should be upset, it's the "progressive" liberal movement (which, after Kerry in 2004, was needed to keep the Party somewhat relevant) because they have a candidate who is aligned with the base and is genuinely charismatic and well-funded and apparently viable in the general election, and the nomination is drifting away from him. But even there: Obama isn't "progressive" ideas. He's a junior Senator from extremely liberal state of Illinois with the most liberal voting record on the Senate floor and with a very limited resume. And his opponent has her own personal advantages, from name recognition to money to her gender to her husband, who personally occupies a unique position in his party (and will be quite a fascinating case-study ten years from now no matter what happens in this election.) If Obama loses, the "progressives" have a cause to be upset, but it's not Obama's fault, it's the progressive agenda.

I think that the same can be said for McCain. I mean is it just me or is McCain many voters' second rather than first choice and as the field narrows, he's cherry-picking votes? Sure, Fred Thompson, Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter all had their flaws as campaigners and as potential presidents. It so happens that each of them - the total package all wrapped together - failed to catch on with the voters. What does that mean? Personally, I don't think it means a full-scale, across-the-board movement conservative could not win the nomination and the general election. But it does mean something we ought to know by now: that a full-scale, across-the-board movement conservative can't win the nomination and the general election every four years. My fellow conservatives were fortunate, once upon a time, to have a man named Ronald Reagan lead us. We are not so fortunate every four years. We have been presented with quite a collection of men, each with his own particular virtues as a candidate. We should not take to heart the inevitable process by which one of them is chosen.

Maybe 2008 is the right moment for a moderate Republican, and maybe it is not. We, both Red and Blue Staters alike, can whine and moan about the way the world works, or we can do the best we can with the time and the tools that are given to us. Just remember this one thing: Ideas don't run for president, people do.


j.h.k. said...

Amen to that, brother.