Cut government. Conservatives want lower taxes, less regulation, and a president who will balance the budget by cutting spending. Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.” Limited government and economic opportunity are core conservative principles.
Secure our borders. Ronald Reagan again said, “A nation that cannot secure its borders is not a nation.” Conservatives want the crime and social costs from health care and education resource drains from illegal immigrants to end. The principle here is the rule of law. Millions broke the law getting here and continue to break it every day, sapping resources. Conservatives will not consider how to deal with those already here until America’s borders are secure and the rule of American law is upheld.
Win the war. Ronald Reagan’s plan for the Cold War was “We win, they lose.” Americans do not want to lose in Iraq, Afghanistan, or anywhere else against terrorists. Conservatives want a strong and seasoned commander-in-chief who can lead us to victory. The principle here is a foreign policy predicated on strength, knowing when and how to use force to protect America’s safety and interests in a dangerous world.
Redeem our culture. Whether abortion, marriage, religious liberty, or the Second Amendment, conservatives want America’s moral and social heritage protected and preserved. That can only be done through the courts. If Mr. McCain wants to win conservatives, there is nothing he could change more right now than to make the Supreme Court a stump speech issue, and talk about the sort of judges he would appoint and fight for relentlessly.
Mr. McCain needs to embrace his own party. He must tell conservatives that he cares about their concerns and that he will fight for these principles. If Mr. McCain does, he may find that there is another value conservatives hold dear: Redemption. If he does not, millions will stay home, even if the Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton. Disdain for Mrs. Clinton can carry the GOP base only so far.
CPAC could not come at a better time for John McCain. He needs to make the most of it.