WHAT DO REPUBLICANS REALLY WANT?
By Chip McLean
January 6, 2008
For years, men have been confounded in their attempts to fathom the female mind – and particularly confounded when in search of the answer to the eternal question, “What do women really want?” Perhaps equally as elusive during this current campaign season would be the question “What do Republicans really want?”
There was a time not so very long ago when the party of Reagan was far more coherent in their beliefs. There was a time when limited government conservatism was the prevailing philosophy within the GOP, or at least it was with most of those who voted for Republicans. Most who voted for Republicans, saw government – as Reagan did - not as the solution but as the problem.
Daddy Bush lost his re-election bid in ’92 for abandoning the conservative principles of Reagan. His “kinder, gentler” approach translated into bigger government, and a tax increase despite his “read my lips” pledge. Conservatives revolted in droves by voting for Ross Perot, thus handing the Oval Office to Bill Clinton. Conservatism rebounded two years later when Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America” resonated with the public, and the GOP wrested control of both houses of congress from the Democrats. With a Dem president and a Republican congress, there was a certain amount of what the liberal press decried as “gridlock” – which actually was not a bad thing as it slowed down the rate of government growth.
By 2000 with Bush II, “kinder, gentler” had been repackaged as “compassionate conservatism.” With the GOP in charge of both houses of congress and the White House, government and spending grew faster than any time since the days of LBJ. In addition, after the 9/11 attacks, our borders became more porous than ever, despite the creation of another mammoth bureaucracy known as the Department of Homeland Security.
In 2006, the GOP lost its hold on congress. The mainstream media’s explanation was that it was due to the unpopularity of the Iraq war. While the war was a factor, the real cause of the Republicans’ defeat was somewhat more complex, but can be summed up pretty easily – they had abandoned conservatism. Grass roots conservatives were sick of the out of control spending and government growth, not to mention that the GOP seemed to have become a party of elitists and globalists who wished to erase our borders, and with it our national sovereignty. Many in 2006 simply stayed home in disgust.
The current presidential campaign season brings with it a sense of the bizarre – bizarre in that the “front-runners” in the Republican Party bear more resemblance to Bill Clinton than they do to Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater. There were only three GOP candidates who seemed to have any idea of what a limited government, constitutional republic is all about – Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul. Tancredo of course has recently dropped out. Hunter has gained no traction and will doubtless be dropping out as well. Ron Paul? That’s another story, but more on that in a moment.
For some time, there was no real “front-runner” among the “first-tier” GOP candidates. There has been much gnashing of teeth of course among conservatives regarding the lack of a Reagan-style conservative. Giuliani, Romney and McCain don’t have any problem invoking Reagan’s name, but their records on issues important to conservatives, such as immigration, gun control and abortion would probably have “The Gipper” spinning in his grave. Then there’s Fred Thompson. Thompson was heralded by some as a sort of conservative savior, but there are many questions about Thompson’s real stands on issues. His history as a lobbyist and a member of the globalist Council on Foreign Relations make him suspect with many – plus his seeming lack of enthusiasm for campaigning have caused his campaign to fizzle.
Out of seemingly nowhere, Mike Huckabee has emerged as a front-runner. He won rather handily in Iowa and is leading in most national polls as well. The reason seems to be a rather inexplicable support coming from evangelical Christians. I say inexplicable because Huckabee is not a conservative. Huckabee’s record on immigration is horrendous (as is his plan that would allow “touchback amnesty”). In addition, he (like another previous Arkansas governor who became president) had a fire sale on commutations and pardons for criminals, granting more than all six of his neighboring states combined during the same period. Huckabee has also become known to many in Arkansas as “Tax Hike Mike,” referring to the state’s net tax increase of $ 505 million, after inflation, during his tenure as governor.
Huckabee is a former preacher – nothing wrong with that. The problem is that he sees Christian charity in terms of using the federal government – and your tax dollars – in order to accomplish the goal. He’s on record as supporting Bush’s debacle of an education bill, “No Child Left Behind.” He’s also stated that he would sign a ban on pubic smoking should such a bill be passed by congress. Big government nanny state-ism is still big government nanny-state-ism, regardless of motive or “good intentions.” It is most assuredly not conservative.
So what accounts for “Huck-A-Boom”? Is this what Republicans really want? I would like to think that the real reason for Huckabee’s momentum is twofold – one is disenchantment with the rest of the candidates, and the other is that too many people who support him have no idea what he really represents. That’s what I would like to think. It’s entirely possible though that somehow, too many Republicans have succumbed to the belief that government should do more rather than less. That they don’t wish to be responsible for themselves, preferring a nanny state to take care of them cradle to grave. I sincerely hope this isn’t the case.
For now though, we are witnessing a farce – the party that detested the Clintons is on the verge of nominating a candidate who could be easily described as Bill Clinton without Monica under the desk. All the while they have ignored the only real conservatives that were running – which brings me back to Ron Paul. Despite being marginalized and ridiculed by both many in the press, and within the Republican Party itself, Ron Paul managed to garner 10 percent in Iowa’s crowded field. He’s also been a pheenom at raising cash, primarily through the internet. Does he have any realistic chance at winning the GOP nomination? The odds are against it, but the odds were against him gaining the traction that he has. Of special note is that he has just come out in favor of repealing the 14th amendment – the one that has been badly abused by providing for “anchor babies.”
In addition, he is proposing to deny student visas for Muslims from terror-risk countries. These bold moves may bring on the wrath of some “Big L” libertarian types, but it’s entirely possible he could gain some major ground with conservatives – many of whom have misunderstood his positions on national security issues. Perhaps a third party candidacy isn’t out of the equation for Ron Paul. If “Yuckabee” wins the GOP nomination, there will be many conservatives who will be looking elsewhere, and could find Ron Paul looking better and better.
So what do Republicans really want? Perhaps the more important question is what do conservatives really want? We stand at a crossroads, and the road we take will have an impact that will last for some time.
© 2008 Chip McLean - All Rights Reserved
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Chip McLean is the editor/publisher for Capitol Hill Coffee House. Chip is a former broadcaster.
His interest in politics began at the age of eight, when his parents took him to a Barry Goldwater rally during the 1964 presidential election. In addition to his work at CHCH, Chip's columns have appeared in a number of online conservative publications.
For now though, we are witnessing a farce – the party that detested the Clintons is on the verge of nominating a candidate who could be easily described as Bill Clinton without Monica under the desk.