As I recall, Michigan conducted very early caucuses for us enervated Republicans in the wee days of January, 1988. Obviously, they were completely irrelevant beauty contests (a sobriquet never more completely ill-used, given the field of aspirants that year)–the honor of having actual MEANING was reserved for Iowa later in February.
I supported Pete DuPont during those soon-to-be immediate post-Reagan days.
I knew the Delaware governor was a long-shot, but he brought a level of thoughtful creativity to the contest (especially his buy-out of Social Security), and he seemed a jocular sort whom I could easily see comfortably filling Ronald Reagan’s wing-tips.
After DuPont dropped out with his moribund results in New Hampshire a month later, (I think I was one of about two dozen people who voted for DuPont) I switched allegiance to Jack Kemp. You know, “Kemp/Roth”–?
Anyone but George H.W. Bush. Anyone.
I still remembered how Poppy smeared Governor Reagan with his “voodoo economics” broadside, and was still turned off by his elitist sneering contempt for all things conservative, and I thought there was a blade of truth in his perceived Wimp Factor. There was just something about him…
…But, Bush slapped Dan Rather like a redheaded stepchild, gave a good speech at the convention, and I dutifully climbed aboard the Bush Train. I actually got a little misty during his “thousand points of light” allusions. That, and Michael Dukakis (DoTaxus?) was a bilious scold who made Hubert Humphrey look like Groucho Marx.
“Anyone but Bush” morphed effortlessly into “Anyone but Dukakis”…
That “something” I sensed about Bush 41 evidenced itself when the new President took the advice of his OMB Director, the Do-It-Yourself barber Dick Darhman and said “er, eh..” to his own “No New Taxes” pledge.
President Bush’s convention speech of only three years before still rang in my ear:
And I’m the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent now says he’ll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. When a politician talks like that, you know that’s one resort he’ll be checking into. My opponent won’t rule out raising taxes, but I will, and the Congress will push me to raise taxes, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they will push again and I will say to them, “Read my lips: No new taxes.”
Evidently, Bush’s lips had fallen off. So, Bush signed not only Darhman’s disastrous tax-raising scheme in the early spring of 1991, but his own political death warrant, as well.
…and, so, in 1992, I was buoyed when I heard rumblings of a “B-1” Bob Dornan presidential candidacy, but when the California congressman disavowed such rumors with a hearty endorsement of the winner of the first Gulf War, I was back on the Bush bandwagon (I did find Pat Buchanan’s effort interesting— until I found out he was a pseudo Huey Long, and made stupid anti-Semitic blatherings about the apparitional “amen corner” in Congress, whose members seemed to support Israel, even though it was populated with… well, people of a Jewish persuasion…)
Again, that… and Bill Clinton (along with his lamprey of a wife Hillary) was a foul human being who shouldn’t be let in Lafayette Park– let alone the White House. So, for me, it was George Bush and Dan Quayle… again…
“Anyone But Bush” had now morphed seamlessly into “Anyone But Clinton”. Once again, I dutifully climbed aboard the GOP Express…
My nose, however, was starting to turn a bit pink from holding it in the voting booth. But, it would eventually turn positively bulbous and red in the years to come.
1996 brought all the usual charms. Bob Dole was exhumed for the duration, and the Kansas senator had turned me off since his days attacking Reagan in Gerald Ford’s stead.
Bob Dornan actually did throw his hat in the ring in ’96, but he flamed out rather quickly; a result I chalk up to the congressman having shaved his beard before he entered the fray. I was also intrigued with Alan Keyes, without knowing much about him. After that, I was fully behind Steve Forbes’ attempt, and despite his appearance resembling that of box turtle, Forbes was one of the most effective spokesmen for limited government since Reagan’s departure.
Anyone but Dole. Anyone.
But, of course, it was Dole. Of course. I don’t even remember much about the campaign, except that Dole in a rather gentlemanly manner resigned his senate offices to run. That was a nice touch. But, he himself seemed to understand that Bob Dole was simply allowed to take his well-earned turn at bat, and he knew he was going to lose.
Once again, I sighed in resignation as the more thoughful, fresh-faced candidates were discarded for the ancient patrician liberal white guy with the highest name ID. Dole/Kemp ’96. Yippee.
Four more years slipped by. Hi-ho.
By 1999, I was in full thrall to the passionate and articulate Ambassador Alan Keyes– He was a stark contrast in every aesthetic measure to both John McCain and George W. I was familiar also with John McCain’s POW story, which is nothing if not heroic. George W. Bush seemed like a bumbling frat boy to me, propped up by Bush the Elder’s money, with same political reflexive mush. He was, though, a Born Again Christian who didn’t hide his faith under a basket. At least, there was that. Christian, yes. Conservative? Not so much, at least as far as Dub-ya was concerned.
Once again: Anyone but Bush. But, of course: we got… Bush. Once the general election rolled around, though, I tucked my principles back under my hat. Once again, I held my nose, as “my candidates” fell in the primary to the most prominent, wealthy, liberal, white guy with the highest name ID. Back on the train… Yawn.
…Of course, as it turned out, Bush the Younger had been ticketed for a DUI in his wild ‘ncrazy youth, and it conveniently came to light on the Saturday before the election. We came within an eyelash of President Gore. I kept thinking Alan Keyes probably didn’t have a DUI in his past… And how he would have mopped the debate floor with Al Gore. And all of those chads wouldn’t have been dangling in Duvall County. And the first Black President would have been a conservative Christian Republican…
Same deal in 2008:
–A field of some worthy candidates (which in the early going was rumored to include Newt Gingrich), and still we managed to nominate the most antique white guy, whose turn had arrived, with the highest name ID. At first Mike Huckabee’s homespun oratorical gifts had some merit, until Fred Thompson finally jumped in. Anyone —Anyone but John McCain… Please, Please, Lord: Let us, just this once, have a conservative.
Alas, alack. John McCain it was, complete with his Albino Yosemite Sam impersonations. In May of 2008, I’d begun to get a little pissy, and I wrote the RNC that, either McCain picked Sarah Palin (who?) as his running mate, or they got not a single dime more of my otherwise parsimonious contributions. I wanted a conservative fresh face, dammit, and I plucked Palin’s name off of Google, back when she had fewer than 37,000 entries.
And, thus it was; –and dutifully again, I climbed aboard the John McCain Train. Toot-Toot…! I watched my preferred candidates, Primary after Primary, one after another, fade into the ether. The Rich, White Guy Express with the most recognizable name was our nominee…
We Republicans had the same candidate in 2012 that we had in 2008, except his name was Mitt Romney. Elderly Wealthy, east-coast Patrician liberal white guy with the most recognizable name. I never wanted Bush Senior, or Dole, or Bush Junior, or McCain or Romney. They were my third, or fourth, or even sixth choice. Still, my nose now hemorrhagic from all the pinching, I held my breath and like a good little automaton, I queued up every four years in the general election, ignored my remaining ignominy from the primaries, and did my business. The guy with the “R” by his name got my vote.
Year after year, Primary after Primary. I yearned for a conservative, and what was my hope? Anyone but Bush. But, when the general election rolled around, I choked back my yearnings, my ego, my principles, and I voted for him anyway. Anyone but Dole, and I voted for him anyway. Anyone but George W, and I voted for him anyway. Anyone but McCain, and I voted for him anyway. Anyone but Romney, and, well– you get the picture. After nearly thirty years, I beginning to sense a pattern here…
The GOP express is a dilapidated old set of box-cars, shunted on a long abandoned narrow-gauge spur, derailed, covered with graffiti, ingloriously rotted as the cold November rains fall. Every election, I’m implored to jump on before it leaves the station. Hurry! Quick! Jump on before it’s sizzling diesels roar to life! Yeah, we know Our Candidate isn’t perfect, but…
Anyone but the Democrat! Right!?
So, now it’s (gulp) Donald Trump. Donald Trump! The oldest, wealthiest, most liberal white guy with the highest name ID. Hurry Up! Jump on the train! There’s still room, up here on the roof of the Pullman Cars!
No, no thank you. I’ve done this a zillion times before. Got the yard signs, the t-shirts, the bumper stickers. At least with all those other old, white, rich, patrician, liberal east-coast Republican candidates, I was at least relatively sanguine that the nominee was a decent, honorable person– even if they were a dud of a conservative. I would have sighed the sigh of the eternally frustrated, and watched as my candidate –this time Senator Ted Cruz– faded into the ether.
Like Levon Tostig in the Elton John song, I watched my candidates as balloons, sailing away, vanishing in the clouds: Pete DuPont, Jack Kemp, Steve Forbes, Bob Dornan, Alan Keyes, Fred Thompson, Newt Gingrich. I got over them all, upon my honor, I did my duty to God and my Country, to be square, and obeyed the law of the Pack. I voted for the Republican Nominee.
…but Donald Trump? No, thank you. I think I’ll pass.
That Hillary Clinton is a vile, detestable, loathsome grotesque is beside the point. I wouldn’t vote for her under any scenario that doesn’t involve vast quantities of inebriates, explosives and radioactive fallout. And a rapture of some description, at which point an election is rather trivial.
Simply put? Donald Trump is a dick. He is a liar. He is a confidence man. He is of middling intellect, morally corrupt. He is the caricature of moneyed vulgarity and excess. He is spectacularly vain (–spray tan? whitened teeth? skin peels? scalp surgery to cover a bald spot? French Cuffs? C’mon, man!), and exhibits absolutely no self deprecation. He is a later-day Mongol Warlord, partying in splendor while his battle captives are crushed beneath the dance-floor. Legions of everyday Americans tell tales of being defrauded, ripped off, and conned by Donald Trump, while he walks between the raindrops, neatly balancing between legal and illegal, declaring bankruptcy when convenient, leaving the less well-off holding his bag.
Nope. I’ve done my share of water-carrying– almost thirty years of it now. I’m not Hashtag NeverTrump. I’m not Hashtag Anything. Being a conservative means you are a sentient, thoughtful, observant, knowledgeable– it doesn’t mean you are a joiner of fleeting causes.
Thirty years of jumping onto derailed freight trains rather proves the point, don’t you think?