Hillary Versus McCain: Last Hope of GOP “Moderates”
This subject deals a bit in the realm of "What if." But conservative America had better contend with it before it becomes a grim reality.
The June 12, 2006 cover page of USA Today contained an article entitled “Dems Slipping in State Races.” Polling data for President Bush and the War on Terror have improved greatly in the immediate aftermath of the death of al Zarqawi. Despite occasional temporary setbacks, a groundswell of conservatism continues to shift the political debate decisively to the right.
So why should Republicans be anything but happy? Sadly, among many who have postured themselves to the “center” over the years, these recent trends are only a cause for alarm.
A truly conservative country wants truly conservative responses to the problems of the day. No longer can the political class hope to maintain itself amid the luxury of high office by merely expressing concern and occasionally throwing horrendous sums of money at looming problems. Conservatives demand and expect results.
Conversely, the “moderate” wing of the GOP has always been content to let the political debate be defined and ultimately led by liberals. Far too often, typical Republican policy is to offer a watered-down version of whatever agenda item is being touted by liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill.
A decidedly conservative presence in the House and Senate would require more than this standard “me too” political strategy from the “moderates.” Such a possibility represents the materialization of their worst fears.
Against this political backdrop, the possibility of a McCain/Hillary contest might prove to be their last, best hope. What more could they ask for than a contest between a Democrat who finds it amazingly easy to advocate far-left causes on one day and then completely abandon them when the audience changes, and a “Republican” who regularly sabotages any Senate effort to advance a conservative agenda?
The possibility of such an electoral line-up, regardless of who might ultimately prevail in ‘08, would redound to the “moderates” as a win/win, and the best of all “lesser of two evils” scenarios by which the moderates have historically undermined and dissipated conservative momentum.
Ultimately, to whatever degree McCain represents such a “lesser,” similarities between the two presidential hopefuls vastly outweigh any differences. Both supported the unconstitutional filibuster of judicial nominees, and both have been ambivalent at best when it comes to the “War on Terror.” Frequently, Hillary’s professed stance on national security even appears to be more in line with mainstream America than that of McCain, but this of course is constantly subject to change.
Nevertheless, it is assured that if McCain were to lose to Hillary, his tepid “right wing” views on social issues would be touted as reason for his defeat. On the other hand, a McCain victory would be relentlessly trumpeted as proof of the dominance of the political middle. Ultimately, this line-up in ‘08 would represent an indefensible rehash of the dismal battles of the ’92 and ’96 presidential races.
In the presidential race of 1992, the determining issue was conservative America’s aversion to the fence sitting and capitulation of the senior George Bush. Having distanced himself from Ronald Reagan’s coattails as far back as his inauguration speech, George H. W. Bush eventually sealed his fate as a one-term president by abandoning his famous “Read my lips” promise not to raise taxes.
Amazingly, it was the left that most loudly decried his capitulation, despite the fact that the very same cabal had previously exerted enormous pressure on him to abandon his pledge.
To make their philosophical triumph complete in the wake of Bill Clinton’s victory, liberals then asserted that conservative social issues, and Bush’s opposition to abortion in particular, had doomed his reelection bid. This was a particularly bitter epitaph since the advocacy of “family values” was only embraced out of desperation by the Bush camp in the waning days of the campaign.
Predictably, key Republican players, such as Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson, were quick to embrace the notion as a means of marginalizing conservatism. Throughout the intervening years however, a tidal wave of conservatism swept the nation, nurtured and bolstered by the alternative media. Eventually, it turned the tables on the “moderates.”
In countless ways, the political landscape has completely changed during the past decade. The immigration “reform” bill, recently passed by the Senate, is being revisited by that body as a direct result of the outcry from an informed public. America’s support for the War on Terror is rallying despite ceaseless efforts by the left to destroy morale and convince America of its imminent defeat.
Contrary to standard “moderate” thinking, no common ground exists between the two political camps. Conservatives must therefore move confidently forward and unite behind the candidacy of one who will truly further their cause. 2008 will prove to be either the defining contest between true representatives of the political left and right, or a disastrous and humiliating dying gasp of Republican efforts at “moderation.”
It is therefore critical that conservative America not allow the “moderates” to take center stage. Among such people, the issues of the day and their reaction to them are never a matter of the nation’s well being, but only their own political fortunes. America cannot afford for the Presidency to be determined on that basis.
Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, as has written for regional and national magazines. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.