Thursday, February 7, 2008

Still the Real Deal!

Governor Mitt Romney has suspended his campaign. Actually, he and his advisors had identified a workable route to a possible victory yesterday, and his advisors gave him overwhelming encouragement to go through with it. But Mitt thought it over yesterday evening and decided that the result could leave an irreparable split in the Republican party and deprive the party of the opportunity to unify for the general election, so he went against his advisors’ advice and chose to suspend his campaign.

This is Mitt the CEO. He knows the final decision is his and his alone, despite the importuning of his advisors. He will always make that final decision based on his incontestable character and conscience.

Mitt understands political strategy only too well. In his address today to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), he said: “If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

It was clear after Super Tuesday that a strategic shift was in order. If anyone could have pulled it off, it was Mitt Romney. But to what effect? The risk was not that Mitt could not have done it, but in all strategic endeavors uncertainty must hold sway. If John McCain nevertheless secured the nomination (e.g., by teaming up with Mike Huckabee), then the intense heat of the political conflict among the candidates during the intervening months could have created a rift in the party that would have invited a Democratic victory.

Mitt knows that the party must regroup for a November victory, but an unusually close race for the nomination could leave intraparty contentions too strong too late to permit that regrouping. It is clear that these words of his are quite genuine: “If this were only about me, I would go on. But I entered this race because I love America, and because I love America, I feel I must now stand aside, for our party and for our country.”

What are we therefore to do? The answer is self-evident. Mitt placed his party before his own political aspirations. It did not matter that he was in fact the best man for the job, even the most effective President we ever would have had. If getting the job meant the possibility of crippling the party by November, he would have nothing to do with it. This is not because he is simply a fan of the Republican Party; it is because there is a critical, life-or-death difference between the two parties today. A Democratic victory in November would endanger our survival as a nation. Mitt said: “I will continue to stand for conservative principles. I will fight alongside you for all the things we believe in. And one of those things is that we cannot allow the next President of the United States to retreat in the face evil extremism.”

But if the Republican Party ends up nominating someone without strong conservative credentials, where does that leave us? The answer is that Mitt wants us to strengthen the conservative principles of the Republican Party platform, not abandon it to contrary forces. We will vote Republican in the fall. And accepting that fact places a profound burden on us: We must make sure that, whoever is the nominee, we lay the heavy cloak of conservatism on his shoulders, whether he has the strength to stand beneath it or not. And we must make him wear that cloak perpetually.

To do this, we have one imperative: Energetically promote the three-legged stool of fiscal conservatism, defense conservatism, and social conservatism in the Republican Party platform. Strategically, this means that we must promote a pattern in the remaining political races that goes furthest toward keeping the pressure of the tripartite conservative agenda strong. This entails three main directions of activity: (1) Minimize McCain’s votes in the remaining states, in order to maximize his need to negotiate over the party platform; (2) enthusiastically promote the campaigns of all conservatives who are running for congressional seats; and (3) energetically promote our tripartite conservative platform among those congressional candidates. We do not want another Mark Foley to crop up because we cared more about a Republican victory than about conservatism itself.

In the meantime, we must also promote a strong economy, both as a news item and as a matter of the public choices that our current representatives make, for this will ensure a Republican victory in November. The media will try hard to portray our demonstrably strong economy as being in serious trouble, depicting, for example, the temporary slowing of growth that we are currently experiencing as though it were actually a decline! In fact, we continue to grow, and we must not let a loose media distort the truth in this regard. Nevertheless, without our guidance, desperate people in Washington may be tempted to resort to desperate measures, to fix what is not broken. Keep on the lookout for any tax increase or other Keynesian fix that your senators or congressmen might contemplate, and oppose it as vigorously as you can!

Thanks to Mitt Romney’s powerful campaign, whoever wins the Republican nomination will now be under great pressure to work with Mitt to make sure conservatism stays strong, and that our economy flourishes over the next four years. Meanwhile, we are also under great pressure to encourage Mitt to stick around and lend his expertise where it counts, and to make sure our representatives open their ears when he speaks. The US economy over the next four years will not be smooth sailing. Only the genius of geniuses can keep it strong enough to support a Republican victory in 2012. It is no exaggeration to say that, left to his own devices, McCain would doom our party by failing to safeguard the economy. Folks, Mitt will still be the Real Deal after November. We will need him! Let’s not forget it.

Richard Voss

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