It’s not Sarah Palin’s fault. No matter how much the media and the squishy moderates who propped up John McCain try to blame it on her, this loss falls squarely at the feet of the nominee and every other “compassionate conservative” complicit in muddying the definition of a Republican.
Every real conservative saw this coming a long time ago — as far back as eight years, the first time this loser went down to, of all people, George W. Bush. The only reason McCain didn’t suffer the biggest wipeout in American political history was because of Palin.
My original plan was to vote for Calvin Coolidge. I figured I’d much rather endorse Silent Cal than loud-mouthed, high-pitched Yosemite Sam. I ended up voting for McCain, but my vote was really cast for Palin. Say what you will about her intelligence, but all I care about is a politician committed to reigning in government. I don’t care if she hasn’t read a page of Shakespeare as long as she isn’t calculating how next to involve government in matters where it doesn’t belong. The presidency should be a rather simple job. The less the president “does,” the better.
While the so-called “moderates” didn’t take well to Palin, the base was immediately galvanized, as is evident by the stratospheric spike in contributions following the pick. McCain spent the last weeks of his campaign trying to save formerly solid GOP states, which speaks volumes because, by that time, he had muzzled Palin.
Republican turnout dropped and 20 percent of conservatives jumped ship for the messiah. I’d venture that the turnout would have been even lower and the defections higher if she hadn’t been on the ticket. Without Palin, McCain would have been worse off than Walter Mondale in 1984.
It says a lot that the media and the hacks inside the McCain camp have circled the wagons against Palin. The insiders, being their usual traitorous selves, are trying to slough off the blame for their miserable performance so that they can continue working campaigns and attending state dinners. It’s also telling that the worst they can come up with are petty personal smears: she answered a door in her towel (the horror!) and she bought some nice clothing (oh no!). Of course, it doesn’t matter that Obama blew $2 million on his victory party, not to mention orchestrating the most expensive campaign in history. Palin’s the villain, right?
I’m glad McCain was defeated because he would have been as much an activist as Obama. He claimed to be the spiritual successor to Teddy Roosevelt, which is better than aligning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy I suppose, but it’s time Republicans stopped nominating anybody whose activism is going to go beyond sweeping cuts across the board.
The moderate and liberal Republicans got everything they wanted this election: an equivocating campaign about global warming and Joe the Plumber, no personal attacks – including the total exclusion of Jeremiah Wright from official discourse – and a nominee whose claim to fame is voting with the Democrats. Look where this behavior has gotten Republicans over the last 12 years: Bob Dole went down to insurgent, anti-moderate conservatives voting for Ross Perot, Bush narrowly won against candidates as weak as Al Gore and John Kerry and it all culminated with a candidate so “mavericky” that he defeated himself.
Even before Palin’s nomination, polls indicated that moderates were breaking for Obama in excess of 60 percent. Ronald Reagan won landslides with conservatism, not by courting back-stabbing independents like Colin Powel.
McCain’s loss will be harmful in the short term, but it has thoroughly discredited the moderate heads of the party and is going to force a groundswell of reform for the GOP. People on the inside are obviously scared, as is evident by the panicked rush to blame Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and anybody else who didn’t genuflect to the messiah. Conservatives have been Balkanized. It’s time to flush the moderates before they crush the GOP.
Patrick Ross is a fifth-year English and history double-major. He can be reached at email@example.com.