January 26, 2008
RINOs and MDS
No, I am not talking about a struggle involving physicians in the Republican Party; I'm talking about the McCain Republican third rail phenomenon which is being called McCain Derangement Syndrome.
While I supported Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani before that (and I guess I would have to be considered a Giuliani supporter as long as he lasts), I have not supported John McCain in this election, and the primary reason is that I am still sore over McCain-Feingold. I also don't like McCain's immigration policies, although I do not think that he's a traitor to the country, hell-bent on annihilating national sovereignty and destroying Western civilization the way some people do. (No, I am not naming names as I don't mean to single people out.)
But the issue of irrational "McCain Derangement Syndrome" (read it, and more here) forces me to ask an obvious question: what is it that makes McCain so infinitely worse than Giuliani or Romney? He's not a real conservative? Please. I know he's taken some less than palatable positions on the gun issue, but compare that to Giuliani's. There's a legitimate beef with him over the immigration issue, but his views are not much different than those of George Bush. Yet many of the same people who consider McCain to be anathema voted for Bush. What gives?
FWIW, if you look at them and their overall positions and records over the past five years, I don't think there's a dime's worth of difference between McCain, Romney, and Giuliani. It's just that Romney and Giuliani have "adjusted" their views in order to please the so-called "base" and McCain, like him or not, has tended to just keep being McCain and let the chips fall. (From a "pure" social conservative perspective, all three are arguably "RINOs," but McCain is the least hypocritical RINO.)
For this, McCain engenders the visceral, passionate kind of hatred which can be analogized to BDS, except it's on the right. Some of it is downright paranoid, and it reminds me of the way McCain was attacked in the 2000 primary as a Manchurian candidate, a traitor whose sympathies were with North Vietnam, a homo lover (shudder), and the "fag candidate."
Fortunately, most of the recent stuff is nowhere near that bad, and I certainly hope it doesn't get that bad.
David Brooks notes the phenomenon too:
Many professional conservatives do not regard Mike Huckabee or John McCain as true conservatives. "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party," Rush Limbaugh said recently on his radio show. "It's going to change it forever, be the end of it."They may be diverse, but such "diversity" has done little to prevent McCain Derangement Syndrome from setting in.
I'm forced to ask: isn't this about beating the Clintons?
The GOP ranks are thinning, and as I say, now that Fred Thompson is out, I'm back to supporting Giuliani, who is not exciting at all. But if he drops out, it will be a race between McCain and Romney, and I have to say that I slightly (with emphasis on slightly) prefer McCain to Romney. Mainly because I like McCain on military matters and I think he'd be a better president to head the armed forces right now. Better than the Romney, and better than Bush. (Um, we are still at war with radical Islamism, are we not?)
But I have to stress that I would vote for Romney if he is the candidate. (Hell, as I think I made clear already, I'd even vote for Huckabee.) This is not to defend McCain's politics, but there seems to be more antipathy towards McCain among some Republicans, though, than there is even towards Hillary. I think it's bizarre. It's as if they'd rather have Hillary as president.
This strikes me as insane.
But I admit, I may be clouded by my biases, so let me admit them again. I'm still an ABC (Anyone But Clinton) guy, so I am influenced by the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. (Better Obama than Hillary, better Giuliani than Hillary, better McCain than Hillary.....)
For awhile, though, I was hopeful about Fred Thompson. I have been holding my nose while I vote for so long it's second nature. Most libertarian types are used to holding their nose and voting for various communitarian types, whether social conservatives or Big Government pork barrel "conservatives" or both.
What annoys the hell out of me is this: I am so damned used to holding my nose and being a good boy, and voting for these people, that I tend to see it as part of being a Republican. You just vote for whoever the party serves up. Otherwise, you're not a real Republican. Yet these irate -- and I mean the really irate social conservatives, the WND wing of the party -- they act like holding their nose is treason. As if their stuff is infinitely more important than my stuff. That's annoying enough, but not only do they make a huge spectacle out of refusing to hold their nose, they then turn around and accuse the nose-holding voters of being RINOs. Imagine! I'm a RINO for voting for the Republican candidate. And the people who sit it out and let Hillary win are "real Republicans."
It's almost too surreal for me to process, but for me that's a primary purpose of blog posts, so I'll try to explain why I disagree with the philosophy of letting Hillary win in order to preserve the purity of conservatism.
I'm in no way accusing these people of being pro-Hillary. Far from it. I suspect that behind the thinking is the idea that if the country is ruined by intensifying the pace of socialism, open border policies, multiculturalist rot, draconian gun control, terrible schools, etc., that the voters will finally "wake up" and realize that the only answer is to be found in far-right conservatism. Left wing tyranny will bring about a backlash resulting in sudden majority support for far-right politics.
This reminds me of a political debate on the left in the late 1960s -- a time when Weather Underground types and their supporters believed in radicalizing everyone -- and their violent tactics were intended to do just that. More mainstream leftists, while agreeing with the general Marxist philosophy, believed that such tactics might very well cause Richard Nixon to put America under martial law and bring about a fascist state. To this the far left replied that "If it takes fascism, then bring it on!" They believed that if America went fascist, the great middle would suddenly see the light and become Marxist. Now I am not comparing today's conservative right to the 1960s far left; for starters the right wing's tactics are not violent. I mean to highlight the logical fallacy involved in thinking that helping to bring about an abhorrent government will cause ordinary people to "see the light." Ordinary people not being activists, they don't see the light in this way; they hope only that they will be left alone. Thus, assuming the Clintons return to power, this does not mean voters would suddenly be more likely to vote for a far right conservative. To the contrary, they'd be more likely to vote Hillary into a second term. And, while the party purists in the GOP might wring their hands in despair of what has happened to this once wonderful country, they'll be stuck agreeing with each other, and blaming the RINOs for their loss.
This brings to mind another reason for sitting it out and letting Hillary win. McCain -- and the "RINOs" -- can then be blamed for Republican defeat, and the right wing can then have their "turn" at running against Hillary. I'll vote for them, of course. And they'll probably say that the reason they didn't win is because of the RINOs. But winning isn't everything; it's about party principles.
I have principles too, and I don't expect them to prevail.
(I mean really. Stop socialism, legalize drugs, defeat Islamofascism? Come on! What's next? "End the Culture War"?)
But that's why I hold my nose and vote. What I still can't figure out is why holding my nose and voting for what I don't especially like makes me less than a "real Republican."
Real Republicans don't vote. (?)
I'm surprised someone hasn't come up with a bumpersticker.
posted by Eric on 01.26.08 at 11:16 AM
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