As we stand on the cusp of 2008, the Republican Party remains stuck in the throes of an identity crisis. Most Republican voters have an intuitive sense of this—even if they don’t quite know what to do about it.
GOP voters sense a party without direction, one that has drifted from many of its core values in order to preserve power or placate perk-hungry voters. They also sense the high stakes, which explains their widespread discontent and indecisiveness: They’re afraid of making the wrong decision at a time when they feel they really need to make the right one.
I know the feeling. I felt it myself.
About this time last year I carefully evaluated the candidates for the GOP nomination. It was a nerve-rattling experience, particularly in the still-fresh wake of the 2006 elections that swept Democrats to power. I considered many factors in selecting a candidate, but two in particular stand out a year later. First, I wanted to support a candidate who would unify the Republican coalition. Second, I wanted to support a candidate with a track record of extraordinary leadership.
I found such a candidate in Mitt Romney.
As Iowa voters prepare to cast the first votes of 2008 this week, I wanted to retrace the steps of my thought process in the hopes of convincing Hawkeye State Republican - and independents - in New Hampshire, South Carolina and all across the country—to support Governor Romney.
Romney Unifies the Republican Coalition
To hear the media tell it these days, one might think the three parts of the Republican coalition—military conservatives, economic conservatives and social conservatives—are distinct entities with irreconcilable agendas. In fact, the Republican coalition has worked together to propel GOP candidates to victory in 5 of the last 7 presidential elections—Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
Of course, not every Republican ascribes to all three “legs” of the “stool.” But over the past 27 years, most Republicans have understood that the independent fate of each of these legs is inexorably intertwined with those of the other legs. So sometimes an economic conservative may not be a social conservative but might support a candidate who is in the hopes that the candidate will advance a free-market agenda. And so on with various other permutations.
In a country of 300 million people, this is how politics works. And for Republicans it has to work this way because there simply aren’t enough military, economic or social conservatives who can, by themselves, carry a candidate to a national victory.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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