Ken Blackwell

John McCain is a national hero and a pro-life, budget hawk, strong on defense conservative senator. But he could very well lose the Republican presidential nomination because conservatives who agree with him on life, government spending and national defense oppose his candidacy. Some will even give a lot of money to the 527 groups he enabled through McCain-Feingold. Those groups will then set out to bury him.

His opponents in the election, some only recent converts to conservative principles, enjoy standing ovations from conservative audiences when they rail against him.

It's an odd situation for a leader of McCain's stature. Especially when you factor in the enormous amount of time he spent campaigning for Republican candidates during the 2006 midterm elections. In fact, McCain backed my candidacy for Ohio governor during a hard fought primary.

So how did he get here? Some may say it's because his conservative credentials are thin. But that's not fair. McCain has been consistently pro-life and enjoys high marks from both the National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste.

The real reason is because many in the conservative movement believe that McCain, through his signature campaign finance reform legislation, actively set out to silence their speech. The irony is that McCain-Feingold actually supercharges their speech during this pre-election sorting period because they can give unlimited money to 527 groups who can shape the race. It also neuters the one entity in the body politic that could have saved his nomination - the political party.

For more than two hundred years, from the very beginnings of our federal system, political parties have played an integral and important part in the political life of the nation. The two-party system began to evolve during the Washington administration with the flowering philosophical debate between forces aligned with John Adams verses those aligned with Thomas Jefferson.

Since this early time, political parties have served as large crucibles into which flowed a multiplicity of ideas and from which came a generalized set of political principles. These principles, while altering some with time and circumstance, became the foundations on which candidates ran for public office and a tool by which the public could evaluate their performance in office.

Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
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