Some unsatisfied Republican voters, especially conservative ones, have threatened to sit out the Republican primary in protest. Indeed, within GOP circles it is not uncommon that one may hear the refrain, "I'd rather have Hillary or Obama win and start fresh than to vote for a RINO (Republican in Name Only) or some half-committed conservative."
Rants of frustration such as these, while understandable, are baseless. More than that, they belie and betray the Republican and conservative arguments regarding the existential battle of our time-the long term threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism. In a time of war, the temptation toward "Kamikaze Republicanism" is both intellectually and ethically bankrupt. Worse, such sentiments stand to pose grave danger to the 2.4 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who stand ready to do violence on the nation's behalf so that Americans might live freely.
To argue that there is not a "dime's worth of difference" between a President Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama vs. a President McCain, Romney, or Giuliani negates the entire range of national security arguments waged since September 11th. In one rhetorical swipe of tongue, Kamikaze Republicanism reduces the singular security threat of our age to rubble, for implicit in the argument is the notion that presidential leadership is impotent in effectuating military and geopolitical change. But as the enormously successful "surge" in Iraq continues to demonstrate, the strategic and tactical decisions leaders make affects the direction that events will take. Indeed, to suggest that General Petraeus's leadership and counsel would have been equally followed by a president beholden to and political dependent upon groups who smear and denigrate such a patriot with cries of "General Betraeus" is intellectual laziness in the extreme.
One might respond, "yes, but there are other factors to consider in a president than merely foreign policy credentials and military bona fides." To be sure, the next president of the United States will shape the contours of the Supreme Court, influence the size and shape of government, and guide the nation's moral and spiritual compass. But come November, first and foremost Americans will elect a president to serve his or her Constitutional duty as commander-in-chief.
And that matters-deeply.
Wynton Hall is a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and author of "The Right Words: Great Republican Speeches That Shaped History".