Yeah, we'll show THEM!!!!
Some conservatives are falling prey to the media machine that is gleefully predicting the blue wave overtaking Congress in three weeks. In monitoring conservative websites and talk radio, I have heard and read a disconcerting number of responses that advocate sitting out this election in order to "teach the Republicans a lesson" and that being back in the wilderness for awhile will help galvanize "real" conservatives to nominate and elect better candidates.
Do a quick memory check of 1992. Conservatives were understandably dismayed by many facets of Poppy Bush' administration. The good feelings from the Gulf War had faded, the president had backtracked on the now-infamous "Read My Lips" pledge and raised taxes; the 1991 recession was falling on his shoulders; he was responsible for appointing David Souter to the Supreme Court (and also Clarence Thomas, I might add); most of all the elder Bush seemed very disengaged from the lives of everyday citizens-- in addition to an apparent disinterest in domestic affairs, a series of well-publicized gaffes such as the fascination the President showed for an infrared scanner at a grocery store combined to paint a picture of an elitist who had already had his high points and was wilting before our very eyes. He even had his own quirks of vocabulary and speaking style as famously portrayed by comedian Dana Carvey. "Not gonna do it" and "Thousand points of light" trigger specific images and memories.
The result was a disheartened conservative base. There just was not a lot of excitement or passion to put the guy back on the throne again; in fact, *HE* didn't even really seem to care whether he won or not. Many conservatives decided to sit out the election either from boredom or disgust with a man who was Ronaldus Magnus' second-in-command and heir apparent. When the prince turned out to be a RINO who was unable or unwilling to fight the Democratic-held Congress to any degree of effectiveness, the base decided to teach him and all the other spineless Republicans a lesson.
The election season running up to November 1992 saw the entrance of a little-known governor from Arkansas who had learned that hiding his liberalism was the path to national power, and Bill Clinton showed a very warm and human candidate as opposed to the blueblood elitist in charge at the time.
That season also saw the entrance of Ross Perot, who captured the third-party rebellious fever that was not being satisfied in the hearts and minds of many conservatives. His over-the-top act was the conservative version of Howard Dean, and he was able to garner enthusiasm and votes from conservatives and libertarians. Or course, he never had a chance, but neither he nor his devout followers ever really saw that. Secondarily they did not take into account that the votes Ross would get might well have gone to George H. W. Bush, or if they did then it was a decidedly punitive action and they "would show him". In the end this candidacy did not truly have an impact -- Perot's votes were largely protest votes split evenly between Bush and Clinton, and even if Bush had taken all of Perot's votes it still would have left him short in the Electoral College. The most important aspect of Perot in the race was the media attention on his novelty campaign. This column does not suggest that Perot cost Bush the presidency.
That election saw Clinton eke out a victory with 43% of the popular vote but a commanding 370 electoral votes compared to Bush' 168. It was hardly a mandate, but it was a national decision. The people no longer wanted the elder Bush to be their president; they weren't sure they wanted Clinton but they knew they wanted Bush gone.
The conservatives felt betrayed in 1992 and voted with their feet; that is, they largely stayed home on election day and a few misguided rebels cast their lot with Perot. Many conservatives commented that it was time to teach the Republicans how to be conservative again, and that a little time out of power would do them some good. They *DESERVED* to lose.
But did the rest of us deserve to lose? With the Clinton presidency we were treated to decisions such as the appointments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the US Supreme Court, along with many hundreds of liberal activist judges at all levels of state and circuit courts. We were perilously close to having 11% of our economy nationalized into the HillaryCare healthcare scheme. We watched as the fiasco at Waco unfolded directly due to incompetence at the upper levels of the Justice department. We saw the first bombing of the World Trade Center and various other terrorist attacks on US interests and assets around the world for the next 8 years. We got tax increases and increased regulation of business and environmental interests. We stood idly by while Iraq armed itself, and then we actively helped North Korea develop rudimentary nuclear techniques. We gave China the ability to accurately shoot a ballistic missile. We got a First Lady who is now a New York senator and probable presidential candidate who is cut straight out of the Marxist/Leninist mold. We got a depleted and dispirited military that was forced to be a social experimental lab vis a vis gays and women.
Does anyone have any belief that Poppy Bush would have sat idly by when the WTC was bombed the first time? Or the embassy bombings in Kenya, or Black Hawk Down? How about the Cole? Of course, he would not have been president after 1996 due to term limits but it is reasonable that a conservative could have won that election. Many of the terror elements may not have happened if a president Bush the Elder goes on the attack after WTC I.
The Republicans didn't do much better 1996. Sad-sack Bob Dole was the sacrificial lamb since it was "his turn" and "he had earned" the opportunity. The conservatives were down and despite retaking the House in 1994, simply didn't buy into the larger ideal and put up an effective challenge to Clinton's re-election campaign. Perot ran again but it was even more pathetic than the first time. Clinton steamrolled them both and got four more years to do his best to enforce a Socialist/humanist take on the American landscape.
By 2000 the Dems made their own mistake in giving Gore his shot, and Bush the Younger was just conservative enough (and Gore scarily liberal enough) to energize conservatives again.
But in 1992 conservatives set out to teach a lesson and to show the Republicans in Washington that we didn't have to vote for them. They lost, and we lost even more. That folly was compounded in 1996, and we paid a grievous price on 9/11/2001.
I understand that conservatives are loathe to "reward" a RINO or misbehaving Republican with re-election. But this is not a ballgame -- by withholding votes from Republicans and costing them seats and possibly control of a chamber, we are effectively giving the other side homefield advantage for the entire next season.
There are plenty of issues that have not been properly addressed according to conservatives -- border control and immigration, permanent tax cuts, SocSec reform, the passing of McCain-Feingold, wishy-washy foreign policy, and many other issues. The situation is decidedly non-ideal.
Some would decide that our current leadership does not deserve any more time at the trough and are planning to stay home on election day or vote 3rd party.
If that happens, we *ALL* lose, not just the Republicans. No lessons will be learned, and we will be in for years of something much worse than NON-IDEAL. It will be catastrophic, and we will all wish that we could simply get back to non-ideal. There are times when it *IS* enough to vote for Republicans simply because they are not Democrats, and we are living in one at this moment.
The theme of many of my posts makes a return here: the time for ideals has passed along with the primaries. At this point the only rational option is to go out to your polling place November 7 and pull the lever for the candidate (for national office) with the "R" by his or her name. Even if that person is a raging RINO, that candidate is still FAR more in line with conservative beliefs than anyone with a "D" by their name, and they do count towards numerical control of their chamber. They also determine the makeup of the committees and chairs, and their party will determine the voting schedule. At this point the focus is on concentration of party power. The Republicans MUST hold both chambers of Congress. To withhold a vote at this point or to protest-vote is to be the same person who gave us the Clinton presidency in 1992.
Who exactly is showing whom? And what are they showing them?