While I certainly understand the frustration of those who complain of RINO primary rise, it’s important to accept the reality of how it happens. It is not, as some would say, a matter of the “Republican Party giving us another John McCain.” Nominees aren’t appointed; they’re elected. It is not the result of a New World Order conspiracy bent on keeping the Ron Pauls of the world from power. Voters may sometimes have chips on their shoulders; there are no controlling chips in their brains. Of course, the media can and do shape public opinion, but they only truly sing in unison when their candidate (read: any Democrat) has his hide on the line during the general election.
To truly understand why a RINO (Republican in Name Only) will likely win the nomination, we only have to consider the following poll numbers: Mitt Romney, 25 percent; Rick Perry, 16; Herman Cain, 16; Ron Paul, 11; Newt Gingrich, 7; and Michele Bachmann, 7. What is notable about this list? Romney, widely viewed as the most liberal of the major contenders, leads the pack. Is this because the Republican base now reflects the Massachusetts GOP?
Or is it because too many are dividing up the traditionalist-vote pie?
Note that every listed candidate but Romney is seen, generally speaking, as being of the right. Of course, many will point out that Perry and Gingrich are RINOs as well. But the critical factor is perception. The Texas governor is largely viewed as a conservative who has had dalliances with the Democrat devil; Gingrich is considered a conservative with too much personal and Beltway baggage; Paul is seen as a rightist libertarian with some outside-the-box views. But it’s one thing to be a conservative who occasionally attends a liberal masquerade party.
It’s quite another to be a liberal masquerading as a conservative in the Republican Party.
I realize, of course, that I’m painting with a somewhat broad brush here. Yet I think there is no doubt that, on balance, Republican primary voters view Romney as the most “moderate” major contender. He thus owns the party’s Gerald Ford wing.
To fully grasp how the traditionalist contenders are taking the wind out of one another’s sails, consider what would happen if only one of them could face off against Romney. And for this exercise I’ll choose Herman Cain.
The votes of the other four conservatives – totaling 41 percent – would be up for grabs. And if we throw in Rick Santorum’s 2 percent, we have 43. Clearly, Cain couldn’t win all of this. It’s fair to say that a minority of Perry’s and Gingrich’s support would go to the remaining establishment candidate, Romney, and that some of Paul’s supporters might be alienated by Cain’s social conservatism. Yet it’s hard to imagine a majority of these votes not swinging Cain’s way – especially in today’s Tea Party, anti-establishment climate.
So let’s say that Cain captures only 28 percent more of the vote, which is just under two thirds of that 43-percent pie. This leaves Romney with 15 percent more, to which, fairness dictates, must be added liberal John Huntsman’s 1 percent (since Santorum was included on the traditionalist side), for a total of 16. Under this scenario, Cain would lead Romney 44 to 41.
Of course, there are many variables. First we have 15 percent of the vote still up for grabs, more than enough to swing this hypothetical race either way. Second, while I think my giving Cain just under two thirds of the 43-percent conservative pie was a conservative estimate, my numbers could be off. Third, as Perry’s initial meteoric rise and Romney’s consistent prominence proves, appearance and star quality matter, too.
But none of this is the point. Nor is the fact that Cain might be too outside-the-box for Beltway-conditioned voters, as a more mainstream politician, such as Bachmann, could carry the traditionalist banner as well. Rather, the point is that any modern Republican primary will include far more apparent rightists than “moderates.” Thus, the traditionalist house is often divided against itself and not left standing.
Now we come to what may seem like an odd question: Is this good or bad for the traditionalist cause? Some may say that the best thing also-ran candidates such as Gingrich, Bachmann and Santorum could do for the cause is to drop out and stop damaging and drawing votes from their more popular co-ideologists. This would increase the chances of having a more Reaganesque choice in the general election. Others may say that their presence influences the debate and/or that, by ensuring the emergence of a more centrist candidate, makes more likely a 2012 Republican victory. This would perhaps decrease the chances of having an Obamaesque president after the general election.
Of course, though, for good or ill, the also-rans will always be with us. Thus, to eliminate the traditionalist vote-dilution factor would require a total revamping of our system. We would have to institute rules stating that if no prospective nominee captured 50 percent of the vote in a state, there would have to be a run-off between the top two contenders. However, the chances of our dispensing with our current system in favor of the above are about as great as those of the also-rans dispensing with their campaigns.
So where does this leave us? With this message: To quote Otto Von Bismarck, “Politics is the art of the possible.” We could, upon the nomination of a status-quo statist, feel as if the whole world is conspiring against us. We could blame the Republican Party for “giving us another RINO” or the NWO for installing another internationalist and then take our ball and go home. But this would be unwise. America may be that proverbial frog in the frying pan of water, but the solution is never to jump out of it into the fire.
Instead, there must be giant civilizational leap. That is to say, when lamenting our election choices, what are we really complaining about?
Our fellow man.
What we may in anger call conspiracy or party string-pulling are just ballot-box judgments by average Joes. These only change when the people do. And how do you change the people?
The left knows.
To make something possible politically, you must first make it palatable culturally. And while politicians do influence the culture, they play a minor role as compared to the media, academia and entertainment arena. And we won’t right our cultural ship in one election.
So what will be our minor 2012 course adjustment? As my past commentary proves, I’m to the “right” of virtually everyone reading this. I have expressed opinions such as the belief that all immigration should be ended (cited by Congressman John Conyers to a House Committee). And since I want to make the best choice for our culture, I’ll support the best candidate with a chance to win. As far as the primaries go, this means I favor one Republican over the others.
And I’ll hold fast to this principle come the general election. This means supporting the Republican nominee whoever he may be. Because he will possess a certain very important quality.
He won’t be Barack Obama.
This political act may only be one small step in changing the culture, the art of the seemingly impossible. But, after all, politics is only the art of the possible.
The Moral Liberal Associate Editor, Selwyn Duke, is a columnist, public speaker and Internet entrepreneur whose work has been published widely. He has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, is a regular guest on The Michael Savage Show, and has a regular column in both the Christian Music Perspective Magazine and The New American magazine.