The sometimes-painful nomination processIf there is one absolute certainty in the race for the Republican nomination it is this: One candidate will win it, and the others will go home-and this year (except for the obligatory convention appearance) they'll be parting ways in record early time.
I recall the first Presidential election in which I was able to vote. After helping bring Republicans to Congressional control in 1994, I really wanted to use the opportunity in '96 to bring about a real conservative trend. I became gung-ho in my support of Pat Buchanan for the Republican nomination. What's more, I didn't appreciate the way the other candidates and their supporters treated Buchanan. After he won the New Hampshire Primary, the party establishment proceeded to use the mainstream press to declare that Pat Buchanan was not a "real Republican" despite having served in White Houses under Nixon and Reagan, and convince people that a Buchanan nomination would be the end of the world as we know it. I knew enough history to know that some of these same sorts of people were saying the same kinds of things when Barry Goldwater was nominated in 1964. Yes, Goldwater got hammered in the General Election-but as a result of what he did in '64, he paved the way for Ronald Reagan. I was convinced that the reports of voter fraud coming from the Arizona Primary that year were true, and that certain people fixed the process in that State so that a real momentum for Buchanan didn't take off.
In spite of my anger at what happened during the nominating process, I swallowed my pride in November and voted for Bob Dole. What's more, I felt good about doing so because my conscience told me that I did everything in my power to stop the Clintons. I tried to help nominate the best man, and voted to keep the Clintons out of power. Bob Dole might have won that election if voter-turnout in Republican areas was higher-a lot of people stayed home and gave Bill Clinton another term.
Nothing brought home the harsh reality that infighting can keep the best man out of office more than the 2006 Tennessee U.S. Senate race. I didn't just support Ed Bryant, I opposed Bob Corker with every fiber of my being during that Primary. Corker was buying name recognition and, I felt, lying his way into the Senate. He was running around the State telling everyone how conservative he was and how he was pro-life. His record said something completely different, because in 1994 he said he was pro-abortion. He once favored a State income tax when he worked as Don Sundquist's Commissioner of Revenue, and as Chattanooga Mayor he had raised taxes. He seemed to be the antithesis of everything conservative, and the thought of him being in the Senate left me with a stomach ailment. I blamed Van Hilleary as much as anyone else for Corker's Primary victory, because the numbers seemed to show that if Hilleary were not in the race, Ed Bryant may very well have beaten Corker in a two-man race.
Corker went on to defeat Harold Ford, Jr. last November.
Corker promised that he would vote pro-life if elected to the Senate, and he kept telling people how conservative he was even during his General Election campaign. What did he do when he got to the Senate? He has voted pro-life just as he promised he would do, and has come out to Lamar Alexander's right both on the issue of life (he voted against embryonic stem cell research-Lamar supported it) and immigration. He didn't have to be pushed near as hard as Lamar did to vote right. We can say that this conversion isn't sincere and that the reason Corker has done these things is all political. That may very well be the case, but considering he has a six-year term and the electorate have short memories, he could get away with political murder if he wanted to, and he has (for the most part) stayed on the conservative straight-and-narrow way. I thought the floor was going to fall out of the conservative wing of the GOP in this State with Corker's nomination. It not only hasn't, but so far Corker has not disappointed me and has forced me to eat crow. The world has not ended for Tennessee conservatives because Bob Corker is our Senator-not so far, anyway.
What is the point of all this? Well, there seems to be an attitude in the circles of several Republican presidential candidates where some of their supporters are saying "if my candidate doesn't win the nomination, I'm staying home in November," or worse, some are even threatening to vote for the Democrat in protest. What good does this do, except to destroy the political credibility of those supporters and potentially put another Clinton in the White House? I can guarantee that the other Republican candidates will not publicly disavow the party nominee. If it is a certain New Yorker, they may not give him assistance (unlike some, I don't think the New Yorker will be nominated when it is done), but that will be their way to protest, not to run the GOP down.
This old Buchananite learned his lesson long ago about the cost of abandoning the party when the chips are down. The Republican Party can sometimes be like a sick loved one: It loses its will to go on when the people who believe the most abandon it. You can rest assured that the Democrats will go into the General Election united and ready to fight. If the GOP looks fractured and wounded, that could damage both the party and the country for years to come.
Remember the Supreme Court...
Labels: Presidential Election