One repeatedly hears that some conservatives and Republicans will either vote Democrat or not vote at all -- out of anger at the Republican Party.
According to these Republican holdouts, the Republicans have governed as Democrats-lite by greatly increasing government spending and doing little about illegal immigration. Accordingly, it is better to have liberal government under liberals than liberal government under Republicans, and the Republicans need to be taught a lesson so that in the future they will govern as authentic Republicans.
Conservatives should file this thinking under the heading "Cathartic," but not under "Smart."
One of the great realizations one comes to as the years pass is how small a role reason plays in most people's decisions. From choosing products based on their packaging to deciding how to vote, passion and emotion usually eclipse reason.
Any Republican, let alone conservative, who votes Democrat or stays home out of pique with the Republican Congress or the president has chosen emotion over reason.
Have the Bush administration and Republican Congress spent too much money? Of course. And it really is quite annoying. Nothing unites conservative and moderate Republicans as does opposition to big government.
So it is not surprising that so many Republicans are furious at the increases in government spending, such as the staggeringly expensive Medicare prescription drug plan.
Add to this the fury of the conservative base of the Republican Party at the administration's apparent apathy toward illegal "immigration," and you have an Election Day problem.
Now, regarding spending, I share Republicans' anger. Republicans who don't control government spending do far more harm than Democrats who don't. Why? Because when the smaller-government party expands government, those who believe in smaller government have nowhere to turn.
Nevertheless, if it were not for the Bush administration, we never would have gotten the substantial tax cuts that have led to such a robust economy (especially impressive in light of the costs of the war in Iraq and of Katrina).
As for illegal immigration, here, too, I identify with those who are frustrated that Republicans have not done more while in control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. But at least President Bush has signed a bill authorizing the building of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border. No Democratic president would do that. If you care about reducing illegal immigration, isn't that reason enough to prevent the Democrats from gaining power?
And what about the single most important reason to elect Republicans -- the appointment of judges, especially justices to the Supreme Court? What sort of reasoning would lead a conservative to conclude that it is more important to express anger at Republicans than to prevent Democrats from appointing Supreme Court justices and other judges?
And taxes -- what rational conservative would prefer tax increases, one of the major goals of the Democratic Party?
As regards national security, what sort of Republicans are so angry at the Bush administration and/or the Republican Congress that they would want to replace the party that made the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping possible with the party that opposes the Patriot Act and NSA wiretapping? And doesn't the Bush administration deserve credit for the absence of a single terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11?
How about Social Security? Why would a rational Republican want to reward the party that opposed any attempt to fix a system that will fail the next generation of Americans -- and hurt the Republican president who bravely, if ultimately futilely, spent political capital trying to fix it?
And what about tort reform? Republicans have begun reducing abuses of the legal system by passing some tort reform legislation. With Democrats in power, such achievements will be reversed, and trial lawyers and legislators will be empowered to continue to damage this country through law. That is, after all, why trial lawyers are among the biggest donors to the Democratic Party.
Finally, please remember that it was disaffected Republicans who voted for Ross Perot who helped elect Bill Clinton president, and it was disaffected Democrats who voted for Ralph Nader who helped elect George W. Bush president. Unless you run yourself, dear annoyed Republican, you will never find an ideal candidate. Compared to you and your conservative principles, real-life Republicans are indeed a failure. But compared to real-life Democrats, they are almost giants.
Vote out of anger, and you'll either vote Democrat or stay home. Vote out of reason, and you'll vote Republican. Please choose reason. If you don't like the Republican candidate, the place to get rid of him is in the primary, not the general election. The general election is not between good Republicans and irresponsible Republicans; it's between Republicans and Democrats.