Burt Prelutsky

If I had to summarize the thinking of conservatives who oppose the election of John McCain, it’s that it took the disaster of Jimmy Carter’s presidency to usher in the golden era of Ronald Reagan. They feel that either the party will learn its lesson and become more conservative by 2012 or they will simply be forced to create a third party.

There are, you can see, plenty of fallacies in their thinking. For one thing, McCain wasn’t served up by the party bosses. It’s not as if, having lost four precious years of patronage, they’ll shape up and fly right in 2012. McCain won one primary after another, and anyone who really believes he did so because Democrats crossed over to vote for him has been living in a cave. The rest of us are aware of the fact that liberals are far more involved in their own horse race than they are in ours. How dumb would someone have to be to think that Democrats cared less about whether Obama or Clinton won the nomination than whether our standard bearer turned out to be McCain or Huckabee?

As for third parties, that’s where people go who have a deep and abiding wish to be irrelevant in the electoral process. I’m not suggesting that those who sign up to join the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Socialist Party, the Populist Party, the Peace & Justice Party or even the Natural Law Party, are all bad people. I’m merely pointing out that in 2004, George Bush garnered 62 million votes, John Kerry received 59 million votes, while the other presidential candidates, 15 in all, split up the remaining 1,198,499 votes. So, while irrelevant isn’t synonymous with evil or traitorous, it perfectly describes people who pin their hopes on a third, fourth or fifth, party making a difference.

Finally, we must take a long, hard look at their political strategy. The way they see it, the Democrat in the White House will be such an unmitigated disaster that, like Jimmy Carter, he’ll inevitably lead America to elect a true conservative in 2012. The obvious fly in the ointment is that once elected, there’s no guarantee that, like Clinton in 1996 and Bush in 2004, he or she won’t be re-elected in 2012. Besides, a rotten president can do a great deal of damage in four years.

Do conservatives really want to see the Supreme Court wind up resembling an ACLU fund-raiser? And, lest we forget, by turning his back on the Shah, Jimmy Carter handed Iran over to the Ayatollah Khomeini, ushering in 30 uninterrupted years of Islamic terrorism.

The idea of conservatives sitting out the November election so that one of the two awful liberals will wind up in the Oval Office, commander-in-chief of the best and the most powerful nation on earth, doesn’t strike me as being politically astute. Frankly, I regard it as smarmy, ruthless and cynical. One of my brighter readers summed it up very neatly, suggesting it was like wishing cancer on a loved one as a way to make them stop smoking.