Back in 2008, I saw many fellow conservative bloggers jump on the Fred Thompson bandwagon. It was a phenomenon I could never understand. It seemed like out of nowhere Fred Thompson was elevated to the position of GOP Savior. Many thought he was the only true Reagan-esque candidate that could enter the field. Hogwash, I thought. The day he formally entered the race I said his best days of the campaign were behind him.
I was right.
Here we are, four years later, and once again the GOP finds itself looking for a messiah. The current candidate-du-jour is Chris Christie, who was being talked up as a potential candidate practically seconds after his gubernatorial victory in New Jersey was confirmed.
Again, I say hogwash.
If Christie jumped in the race today, within a week 75% of Republican voters would write him off as a RINO. I’ve seen every candidate so far in the race attacked for not being conservative enough. That is just sad.
Republicans, I hate to say, are stuck on Reagan, constantly looking for someone who they believe emulates him perfectly. Reagan may be a conservative icon, but if we looked at his record as a whole, there are plenty of things there that wouldn’t fit in the conservative label.
Reagan’s legacy has strangely survived in perfect condition in a way that other Republican presidents’ haven’t. Perhaps it’s understandable. Before Reagan there was Carter. Need I say more? George H.W. Bush was fairly popular president until he broke his promise about not raising taxes. That more than anything defines his legacy.
Today, many Republicans have disowned President George W. Bush. “He wasn’t a real conservative,” they say, and so on. They say this despite the fact that he won reelection in 2004, which an incredible amount of positive support. Yet, many naysayers point to things done in his first term as examples of his lack of conservative bonafides: No Child Left Behind, The Patriot Act, even the Iraq War.
Another great example of conservative canonization that fizzled out is Senator Scott Brown. Anyone who actually knew his record as a state senator knew he was not a pure conservative, but the Tea Party organized for him, and helped mobilize a tremendous victory for him. Now, the Tea Party acts betrayed because of a few votes that didn’t meet their standards.
Seriously, let’s stop pretending the GOP has a savior.
Let’s look at Obama now. You don’t get more extreme than him when it comes to a left-winger. But, you cannot ignore the fact that the left is not entirely pleased with him because he hasn’t managed to completely redistribute the country’s wealth, or allow for the creation of drive-thru abortion clinics or whatever nonsense the left champions any given day.
In the end, politicians have records and realities to answer to. Voters often see the former without considering the latter. Even the most conservative of politicians has to work with the opposition to get things done. If we treat every compromise as a black mark on a candidate’s record than we might as well let Obama run the country for another four years.
It’s time for Republican voters to remember that we are all on the same team here. If we can’t put aside petty policy differences in favor of an overall ideological shift back to the right in 2012 then we deserve to lose.