Where Do Conservatives Go From Here?

I’m a pretty fair and open minded person. It is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it allows me to understand, empathize, and deeply consider where different points of view are coming from….even if they are completely opposite of my own. Of course, it is a curse because in many cases it leaves me confused as to which way is the right way to go. My fallback for this is to follow my basic instincts, however my gut isn’t always right. I don’t have much in the gift of insight.

Ed Morrissey asked the question, do blogs matter in presidential politics? He concludes with the answer that while they have success in influencing policy, they have a long ways to go in gaining significant influence of presidential elections. For the most part is completely correct. Basically it comes down to sheer numbers. Even the most widely read conservative blogs average around 150 to 200 thousand readers on a daily basis. Factor in the fact that most of these readers already think in a similar vein as the blogs they choose to read, and that some of that number is repeat visits and the numbers we have any influence over are not that significant compared to the general public. We’ve had our influential victories, like stopping the Harriet Myers fiasco, but what it really boils down to for blogs is “who” is reading, not “how many.” Most of our victories in influencing change have been through cooperating together in teamwork towards one goal.

Basically, what the point I’m leading up to is that the overall conservative blogosphere has discovered just how small its influence is at this point in matters such presidential elections. It is one thing to influence policy, and fire up the base. It is another to reach to millions of people who unfortunately still get most of their information from the MSM. There is no doubt that this election is a victory for the MSM in stamping down just how much influence they still retain. Most conservatives are looking at the choices we have left, and seeing this whole whole election completely upside down.

This entire election process has been unpredictable in my opinion, and has slapped conventional wisdom in the face many times. At the beggining of this election cycle John McCain’s campaign faded to the point that many wrote him off and wondered what was taking him so long to drop out. The clear frontrunner was Rudy Giulliani, and perhaps the rantings of the blogosphere on his liberal stances was a success. However, most likely his downfall was a combination of poor strategy in staking it all on Florida, and the scandal about him using New York tax payer money to taxi around his mistress. Regardless, the conventional wisdom, and in this case the media, were dead wrong.

When Fred Thompson finally entered the picture he was haunted by the media meme of entering too late and being lazy. The conservative base and blogosphere begged for him, and when he finally came it was an uphill battle. However, the majority of the conservative blogosphere rallied behind him. Alas, it wasn’t enough. The question of how much influence talk radio has is being asked as well. Look…people think for themselves. Thats a good thing isn’t it?

Since I’m getting long winded in making my point I’ll sum it up. From Tancredo to Hunter to Thompson….one by one the most conservative candidates dropped out for lack of support. Its being proven over and over from Ron Paul to Fred Thompson that intense support online does not equal support in the general public. The conservatives rallied to what many thought was the last chance for a candidate with any relation to a conservative and got behind Romney. Its now looking like that wasn’t enough either.

While many think that Huckabee should have dropped out before super Tuesday, he was the shocker last night coming in with a sweep of the south. It really isn’t that shocking when you think about though. Of course a southern Baptist preacher that is pro-gun, pro-life, pro-family, and pro-God will be attractive to the South. It seems they were willing to forgive his history on raising taxes in favor of him abolishing the IRS.

It really doesn’t matter, because Huckabee still doesn’t have a chance of catching McCain, probably the most hated candidate in the conservative blogosphere. Its not over yet, but many are surrendering that our nominee will be McCain. The MSM has basically crowned him already. So…with the many, many flaws McCain has with conservatives, where does that leave the principled conservative?

Here is where I finally get to my point. There are many directions conservatives will take. Here are a few. I can actually see where all of these view points are coming from.

Getting behind McCain: Basically this argument goes a little beyond the lines of party loyalty. The question is how that will be interpreted. You have to whittle down what the Republican nominee has in common with the Democrat vs. how they differ from the Democrats. While McCain is pro-amnesty, anti-free speech, and has his many other liberal tendancies, he is pro-victory, pro-life, and he isn’t planning to bring socialized medicine to America.

Actually voting Democrat: Ann Coulter and Tammy Bruce have both said they would consider voting for Hillary if McCain ends up the nominee. Basically the argument is that if the country is to go to hell in a handbasket let it happen under the Democrat banner, and not the Republican one. The one thing that worries me about this is nominating judges. I would go out on a limb and say that its a better gamble to trust McCain over Hillary or Obama on putting up a conservative judge. Then again we are talking about the leader of the gang of 14. We do have his word, but what good is that? The counter argument to this is that it won’t teach the establishment anything, and it hasn’t in the past. Of course it isn’t as much the establishment that needs convincing as the general population. Personally my principles wouldn’t allow me to touch the screen for a socialist Democrat.

Sitting it out: Its basically an argument of principle over party.

The position of James Dobson:

I cannot, and I will not vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience… I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life.

Steven Brainbridge:

If the choice is between choosing the lesser of 4 evils and teeing up a process by which the GOP reinvents itself for the 21st Century, I’m inclined to opt for the latter. Coupled with losing Congress in 2006, losing the presidency in 2008 will provide a pair of defeats that surely will prompt “attentiveness” on the part of the GOP leadership and the intellectual base of think tanks and academics who helped lay the foundation for the Reagan and Gingrich revolutions.

Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiller:

“My principles are mine, they’ve remained unchanged through Hell and high water, and I’m not about to abandon them for they are what I am. Without them, I am nothing. They are not for sale to the highest bidder, much less are they to be discarded in the face of adversity. They are mine, and nobody can take them away from me. I can only lose them by throwing them away myself, and were I to do so, I would be worth less than the basest cur on the planet.

So endorse your McCain, RINOs, carry him on your shoulders to a landslide defeat that will be remembered for all time, but do it without me.

Dan Riehl:

The grass roots doesn’t take its marching orders from Right-side pundits. Independent registrations are growing, both parties numbers have been struggling. Many that would normally support the GOP simply won’t show up. I’ve been hearing that from plenty of people who are not bloggers, and such. They’re fed up and this would be the final straw.

Bill Quick is so fed up he is even trying to start the American Conservative Party.

This is probably what I will do. I want to vote FOR someone instead of against someone for a change. If no one can motivate me to get off the couch and vote FOR something, I probably won’t.

My advice to other is to follow your instincts. Don’t follow the crowd whether that be the conservative pundits or the Republican establishment. If you think we can survive four years with a socialist like Hillary or Obama and that it will leave conservatives in a better position at a later date…go for it. If you truly believe in your heart that this will benefit the country in the long run by teaching a hard lesson, follow your instinct.

If answering your concience and standing by your principles are more important to you than party identification. If you weigh it out, and think the dangers of a Democrat in power is less important than sticking with your moral beliefs and holding those that promise to implement those values to their word, then sit it out.

If you think that holding your nose and voting for the lesser of two evils is your the only sane option for the sake of the country then do it. If surrender in Iraq and socialized medicine don’t scare you as much as compromising values and moving a cause more towards the left, then do what your heart tells you. Don’t follow the crowd, do what you think is right.

Crossposted from STACLU

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