The EFM Feature

Greetings, EFM fans! You probably didn’t notice, given that the Frenches are the real talent in these parts, but I’ve discovered to my chagrin that this is my first post of 2010. Whoops. Don’t worry; I didn’t sign up with the Huckabeeans over Christmas. But as we all know, there are many things in life beyond politics, and for a time, those crowded this humble blog out.
Now I’m back, just in time to see U.S. Senator Scott Brown (oh, how sweet the sound!) sworn in on Capitol Hill. May I say a few words about that?
First, as has been discussed here already, Gov. Romney played an integral, behind-the-scenes role in getting Sen. Brown into the race and raising money for him when no one outside of Wrentham knew his name. It seems to me he deserves credit not just for helping, but for keeping his mouth shut in the best interests of his team — not something at which most politicians excel.
That, however, should not have been an immense surprise, at least to those of us who have followed Gov. Romney for years. Let me tell you something that did surprise me, then: the way the conservative grassroots embraced Sen. Brown.
Why? Because it stood in stark contrast to the kind of junk we saw in the 2008 presidential race, namely the never-ending search for a “conservative messiah.” We’ve inveighed against this at length here, and I’ll spare you a regurgitation of our brilliant arguments, because that’s not the point. The point is: The grassroots embraced Sen. Brown because he was the man for the moment, not because they deluded themselves into thinking he was perfect.
And let it be said, he’s not perfect. He’s pro-abortion, for one thing. Yes, he’s less pro-abortion than the mind-boggling Massachusetts left. But he is unequivocally in favor of Roe v. Wade. Also, while he has stalwartly stood against ObamaCare, he’s made clear that he will not be a down-the-line fiscal conservative. (“I’m a Scott Brown Republican,” he says.)
I supported him anyway, of course, and based on his fabulous money bomb, I wasn’t the only one.
Why does this matter so much?
Because in the Massachusetts special election, national conservatives essentially had three options:
1. Support a good candidate who had a chance and was right on the two major issues where an extra Republican senator could make a difference (ObamaCare and terrorism), pretty good on many more (tax cuts come to mind), and bad on some that are presently out of reach (most notably abortion).
2. Try to find a perfect conservative candidate, in Massachusetts of all places.
3. Sit on our hands in the absence of such a candidate.
In the 2008 presidential race, many (most?) conservatives embraced an odd mind meld of options 2 and 3. The result? Republican nominee John McCain, President Barack Obama, and a government takeover (or near-miss, as with health care) of huge and important parts of our economy. Had we done so in the Massachusetts special, surely the result would have been Sen. Martha Coakley and the passage of ObamaCare, along with who knows what else. How gratifying that conservatives chose the wiser option. Can we do the same in 2012?
By the way, I don’t mean by the rationale above that conservatives should accept all Republican candidates. There are some who are simply not worth supporting, and are even worth vocally opposing. One of these was my home-state Sen. Arlen Specter, who until recently called himself a Republican. Conservatives rightly opposed his renomination in 2004, when he was challenged by then-Rep. Pat Toomey, and I for one found Sen. Specter so objectionable — and so, in fact, inferior to having a real Democrat in office, who would at least not do harm to the reputation of the party that is most often home to conservatives — that I supported the Democrat in the general election. There are other examples, such as former senator Lincoln Chafee (who won his primary in Rhode Island but lost the general and is now an independent) and former Alaska governor Frank Murkowski, who was toppled in a primary by a little lady you may have heard of on account of his corrupt dealings.
But opposing liberal Republicans who are doing damage and could reasonably be replaced with a better candidate is a far cry from endlessly lusting after a perfect candidate (or, as he is usually called, “true conservative”). The truth is, there are no perfect candidates, because there are no perfect people. That, incidentally, is a lesson some conservatives in my native land seem to need to learn this year, especially after Massachusetts. Some have decided that Pat Toomey — who was the conservative alternative in 2004, spent the next few years taking out liberal Republicans as head of the Club for Growth, and is now the odds-on favorite for the Republican nomination for Senate, is not a “true conservative,” mainly because he said he would have voted to confirm Justice Sotomayor.
There in 2010 and nationally in 2012, conservatives need to do what we did in Massachusetts: back a sound candidate who is right for the moment and concede that he is not and never will be perfect. And you’ll forgive me if I am getting more and more convinced that the right man for a moment with ten percent unemployment and rampant government overspending that threatens my kids’ prosperity is the economic guru and turnaround artist who also happens to have a wonderful family life and the right values.

About Charles Mitchell

EFM's resident Yankee, Charles Mitchell, works in the non-profit arena in his native Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Charissa, live near the state capital of Harrisburg with their daughter, Adeline, and are members of a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America.

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