Let me first start by stating the obvious. John McCain deserves to win this election. Out of two men running for office, he will be a much, much better president than Barack Obama. John McCain is a true patriot, a war hero, an authentic maverick, a man of principle and conviction who will bring honor to the office of the chief executive of this land. Barack Obama cannot hold a candle to John McCain, both in personal integrity as well as in life experience. My approach to this argument is from a long term political perspective. For the sake of Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal and those like them, for the sake of the rebirth of conservatism, and ultimately for the sake of the continued prosperity of this country, I’m afraid I’m inclined to hope that Senator McCain loses this election.
(Now I probably shouldn’t be making this case at this time on this site, but if my fellow Redstaters will hear me out, consider my thoughts and convince me otherwise, I will be more than happy to rethink my position.)
Here is my main concern: Sarah Palin is the future of conservatism. However, were Senator McCain to win, there can be no good ending in this story for her and the new conservative movement waiting to be born.
Here are three reasons why.
Reason #1: Being McCain’s VP will kill her with conservatives.
Sarah Palin is what the conservative movement has been waiting for since Ronald Reagan. She is a social conservative, a fiscal conservative, a religious conservative who has talked the talk and walked the walk. She is for small government. She is smart, likable, optimistic, a by-the-bootstraps type of gal who with her very being and life story makes minced meat out of the feminists and pro-abortionists (hence their visceral reaction). Her working class background and All-American family endear her to the common man/woman throughout the country. She is young, and along with Jindal and others can lead to a conservative renewal the likes of which this country has never seen.
But not if she hitches her wagon to John McCain. No one here needs to be reminded how often McCain has been a thorn in conservatives’ sides. Campaign finance reform, immigration, global warming, tax cuts, energy (until recently), the list goes on. It is reasonable to assume that if elected, McCain will continue along his chosen path, to the great dismay of conservatives. And Sarah Palin will be out there defending him. As his VP, she will have no choice (indeed, her recent hedging over global warming is a case in point: she was backing up McCain vs. her own opinion). When McCain will support a Kyoto treaty look-alike, it will be Sarah Palin out there defending it. When McCain pushes amnesty through Congress with the help of Democrats, it will be Sarah Palin making the rounds on the talk shows, trying to calm Rush and Hannity down. Make no mistake; he will use her to help sell his policies, especially to conservatives who adore her. If this campaign has shown him anything, it is that Palin is a strategic PR asset for him, which he won’t hesitate to take advantage of. After four or eight years as a McCain apologist, the Sarah Palin brand will be damaged for good. With conservatives feeling betrayed, there is no way she’ll later be able to run as one of them. All the goodwill she now engenders will have evaporated, leaving only bitterness and cynicism in its wake.
Reason #2: It will hurt her brand in the eyes of the general public.
As is well known, the public prefers non-Washington DC people as president. Vice presidents have a mixed record in the last fifty years in presidential elections. Gore, Mondale and Humphrey lost, and even the winners were not smashing successes (Nixon lost the first time he ran in 1960 and Bush 41 lost in 1992). Governors have always appealed to the public as their executive experience gives them the appearance of competence and their relative newness on the national scene gives them freshness and a distance from DC. Vice presidents are invariably tied to their running mates policies, regardless of their own personal opinion or attempts to distance themselves thereof. Sarah Palin will be unable to run on her own merit should she follow a McCain presidency, because she will be seen as a continuation of McCain, no matter what she says or does. All the personal qualities and conviction she brings to the table will be lost in one overriding headline: Palin = four more years of McCain.
Reason #3: if McCain wins, she will not win in 2016.Period.
Since 1900, no party has controlled the presidency for more than 13 years (except for Roosevelt/Truman where extenuating circumstances applied). If McCain wins two terms, the Republicans might as well sit out the 2016 election. It is difficult to imagine (barring unforeseen Utopian conditions) the American public electing a Republican for another four years tacked on to the previous sixteen. Voters like divided government and are wary of too much power concentrated in one party. Even if things are going well, the Republicans will be thrown out of the White House, just to knock them down a peg or two. Were she to run in 2016 and lose, that would be the end of her political career. In today’s 24 hour news cycle, there are no Adlai Stevensons, no do-overs. You get one crack at it and if you lose, you’re gone (as Al Gore and John Kerry have realized).
Even if McCain were to lose in 2012, it would be hard to imagine the Republican party granting the nomination in 2016 to a losing, one term vice president.
The conservative movement is energized, bursting at the seams, just waiting for a true conservative leader to emerge. Sarah Palin has proven that. IMHO, a Palin-Jindal ticket in 2012 stands a chance of being a truly revolutionary ticket that will change the political landscape for a generation. It would be a dream ticket, two principled executives, young, fresh, capable people who have proven their mettle and stood up for what they believe in. It would be a shame to sacrifice them and what they represent just to win every election. My only hesitancy is the damage an Obama administration can do in four years, but it is an acceptable risk, in my mind, when compared to the potential benefits. Just one man’s opinion.