The Conundrum in the Race

The conundrum is that the potential candidates whom we would have the most confidence in in office, the “true conservatives,” are perhaps generally conceded to be the least experienced (not least qualified) and furthest right in the group, making them perhaps the least “electable,” because experience is what the independent swing vote is likely to deem most important, more important than consistent ideology or philosophy or how somebody voted on healthcare or energy tax policy, and it’s the swing vote that decides elections.  We have a dichotomy between what our heads tell us and what our hearts want.

The candidates whom our heads tell us are most experienced and most able to handle the majority of routine Presidential business well and maybe even get taxes and economics right, and are most likely to displace the current occupant of the Oval Office, are also the ones that our guts tell us would be most likely to commit an unacceptable swerve to the left in order to “get this bill through Congress” or fill a Supreme Court vacancy without too much fuss.  Our hearts want someone who knows that government-mandated health insurance must not be implemented further, that curly fry lightbulbs need no subsidies or mandates (and were in fact worth vetoing the bill that contained them as an add-on), that 40% income tax rates are immoral, and that a Secretary of the Treasury should not be a tax cheat.  This tension between our hearts and minds has resulted in a wide-open race, and I think it’s at the root of the frequent pleas to Chris Cristie, Paul Ryan, Rick Parry, et al, to get into it–simply put, we’re still looking for a white knight who combines all the characteristics we want in our President.  In reality, no such knight exists, nor ever will, but it’s also true that this time few of the hopefuls come very close.  We’re leery of the electability of our favorites and unsure of the conservative bona fides of those we consider most electable.

In the past, we voters have taken the word of candidates about what they believed about issues; sometimes they’ve been truthful and sometimes they’ve lied and sometimes they’ve felt they had to change their minds because circumstances had changed–“Read my lips, no new taxes (unless the Democrats in Congress tell me the world will end if I don’t sign)”–comes to mind, as does “All this additional health insurance coverage won’t cost us one thin dime more than we spend now.”  Even Ronaldus Magnus fell for a Democrat trick and raised income tax rates, but that was in the olden days when there were still some Democrats who had the best interests of the country at heart, even though their ideas were wrong, as always, but Reagan at least had some reason to believe them.

Now, no such reason exists, and conservatives fear the prospect of electing a Republican President who doesn’t have the grounding he needs to successfully stand up to the left.  Dealing with Democrats is necessary, but deal with them on our turf, not theirs.  In the current (potential) Republican field, there are only two or three who I would confidently predict would stand up for right over expediency EVERY time, who really understand the importance of conservative ideology.  There are a few others who would seem to understand what I just wrote, and several others who would dismiss it as too rigidly ideological.  Today, I can’t even guess which group contains our eventual winner.

What I can say is that if it comes from the latter group, we will need more than ever to do our best to make the Congress a RINO-free zone.  If we elect a Republican President who can’t bring himself to cut taxes, or withhold money from the remaining government mandated health insurance rollout, or cut spending deeply, or fire all those czars, we will need to protect the Party from him and the damage his Democrat-lite ideas will do.  A conservative Republican Congress can help with this.

So my hope is that the political media will question all the convention hopefuls about all these issues and many more and get some specific answers to indicate just what the candidate would do if faced with a cap-and-trade bill, or a bill to amend rather than repeal the current mandatory health insurance law.  Will s/he lay off federal workers, or freeze new hiring, or attempt reduction by attrition?  Push for Reagan tax rates?  Submit a 2008-level budget for 2013?  Support government buy-up of corporate stock?  Eliminate all subsidies, or just some?  Repeal labyrinthine regulatory laws that protect very few except the industries they supposedly regulate?  Define the Corporation for Public Broadcasting as a critically important government entity, worthy of borrowing money to support, or call it an expendable luxury, able to survive on its own?  What criteria would s/he use to determine which federal programs to cut or keep?  Does the Constitution mean anything?  What about Iraq?  Afghanistan?  Libya?  How should we be fighting those wars?  Why are we fighting those wars?  What about Iran’s nuclear ambitions; how does what were already doing in the middle east help or hurt our defense against that?  Don’t forget border security–will the lawsuit against Arizona be dropped?  Will our borders be made truly secure, or will lip-security continue?

{The press actually did this fairly well with candidate Barack Obama.  He made many definitive statements about what he would do, how he would do it, and how much it would cost.  We know that because we are very aware of which of those promises he has kept (few) and those which he has failed to keep (many).  We now know for sure which times he was telling the truth and which times he wasn’t, too.  He sounded so good when he made those incredible promises that 52% suspended disbelief and voted for him.}

I may be very wrong, but I think the candidate who has the most reasonable, concrete, definable, defensible and affordable answers to those questions has the best chance of any to win the White House next year.  (And of course, s/he will have to be able to get the attention of both the press and the public.)  That candidate will be able to convince true independents and Reagan Democrats that ideas are important, that our ideas are best.  But one more thing–s/he must be ready to refute all the Obamic lies that the Democrats and their supporters of all kinds will put out, doing so in a way that is credible, not open to spin, leaving no doubt which side is right and which side is simply saying what they think voters want to hear.  That person will be our white knight for 2012.