In 1992, Bush 41 was running for re-election and was beginning to feel the headwind generated by Ross Perot. After having let Conservatives down by violating his “no new taxes” pledge (he also did himself no favors by appointing David Souter, although Clarence Thomas worked out quite well, so I guess that evens out), he was facing anger, resentment and betrayal from his previously loyal voters. Perot eventually garnered sufficient votes (despite displaying signs of instability, and a questionable-at best- choice of running mate in Admiral Stockdale) to deny Bush re-election, and vaulted an unknown governor from a rural state to the Presidency. Such was the anger and frustration of the electorate, that they were willing to vote 3rd party and risk loss of the White House to send the message. They weren’t thinking, they were reacting and hoping there would be something better.
I was young and impressionable then (not to mention relatively moderate in my political alignment), and listened eagerly to what Perot had to say. At first I was captivated, and believed he was “the answer.” I was fully ready and even eager to vote for him, at least until he showed his instability. I didn’t vote for him in the election, but was not at all satisfied while punching my chad (I didn’t know that term back then) for Bush. It was the first time I held my nose in the voting booth.
Fast forward to 2008: the country is being captivated (hoodwinked in my opinion) by an articulate liberal who talks an awful lot, but says very little of substance. When a bit of specifics does leak out, revealing the real intentions of the man under the “Hope and Change” (Spread the wealth around, for example), it is dismissed by his supporters, and ignored by most. The voters allowed themselves to see and hear whatever they wanted to hear, and projected their needs and wants onto the blank canvas that the purposefully vague candidate presented for them. I know several people, even in my conservative circles, who voted for the blank canvas, despite plenty of evidence that it would be a disaster. They simply would not allow themselves to see what was so obvious to many of us. I also clearly recall thinking that no matter who won the Presidency, there would be democrats in control of Congress, and a liberal in the White House. At least if BHO won, the correct party would get the blame for what was to come. Still, I went into the voting booth (at great effort on my part I might add) and again held my nose as I voted for John McCain, even knowing that he had no chance because he hadn’t fought against the Democrat nominee, only his Republican rivals in the primary. He had bought into the belief that the media would treat him fairly because he was a “maverick.” Never realizing that he was being used by them, and that his usefulness would end as soon as he was nominated.
Four years later I supported a series of “not Romneys.” As each of my next lower choices fell by the wayside, I came face to face with the increasing probability that I’d yet again have to hold my nose. We were told in 2011 that Romney would be the nominee, “period” (I don’t recall which GOP moneyman said that, but I do recall being angry at hearing it). Each of the not-Romneys had a serious flaw (many flaws in some cases). But those of us hungry for a real conservative overlooked those imperfections in hopes of finding a diamond in the rough. The search was in vain, and the Bob Dole of 2012 lost again. I still think he could have won, if he’d just acted like he wanted it and fought for it. There was SO MUCH ammunition to be used, but when the election was over, the ammunition was still unspent. Vicious attacks against Republicans in the primary were followed by softballs and handshakes with Democrats in the general election. Nothing was learned from 2008.
So now, here we sit. We have an absolutely furious electorate after 8 years of Republicans making deals with Democrats to give them whatever they want (bipartisanship or something…reach across the isle). They are blinded by their justifiable anger to the extent that they are willing to dismiss evidence that they are making a bad choice, projecting what they want to hear onto empty slogans, and falling for obvious advertising propaganda (everybody loves me, look at the polls!!! You should vote for me too!!). So desperate are they for a leader, they care not where he leads them, and they react almost violently when a mirror is held up to show the emperor has no clothes. This is precisely how the Democrats react to criticism of BHO (eg. RACIST!!!!), and Trumpeteers know no more about their Idol than BHO supporters knew about theirs. The media, who now fawn over Trump, will unleash the torrent of negativity that we all know is coming if he is the nominee. Trump will be as stunned as McCain was, but not as shocked as his supporters will be when the veil is lifted. They will finally be forced to see what we see now, but by then we will be just as powerless as we were in 2008 and 2012. This time, though, we still have a chance. We no longer need worry about the establishment choice being crammed down our collective throats. Ted Cruz (even with his flaws-and yes he has some) is the best choice of those left. Rubio (even after the Go8) would be infinitely preferable to Trump (or to Kasich for that matter…he’s stuck around longer than he did when he ran in 2000, but is no conservative, and not much of an outsider really), but in my opinion is too susceptible to manipulation still by the GOPe. As someone else has written, we can argue over a bill that didn’t pass 3 years ago another time. If Trump weren’t in the race, we could hash the differences out for months with no danger, but here he is, and the threat is real. If the candidates won’t winnow the field themselves, the voters must. If we fail, I’m afraid that nose holding will be insufficient this time. Maybe, just maybe, we can avoid the mistakes of the past. It is said that history doesn’t really repeat itself, but it rhymes. I for one, do not wish to hear another verse.