I have said for years that the key to elections is not the “independents” but the “stay at home” conservatives. For decades after the “Monkey Trial,” Evangelicals stayed out of American politics. They were mobilized in the 1970s with the dawn of the “Religious Right.” In 1976, conservatives were mad at Nixon and Ford. Ford lost; Carter won. In 1980, Reagan mobilized a coalition. It led to 2 terms of Reagan & 1 term of Bush Sr. By 1992, Bush Sr. ticked off conservatives. Buchanan and Perot pulled away different factions. Clinton won. In 1996, Dole was boring. Many contenders pulled apart the former Reagan Coalition. Clinton won.
In 2000, Dubya managed to form a new coalition under the impression that he was the second coming of Reagan; Gore was scary. People who’d otherwise have voted third party or not at all came out to vote for Bush, and he won. In 2002, he was the most popular president in history. While his popularity was waning in 2004, and while he was, as Limbaugh put it, looking more like Nixon than Reagan, conservatives still came out to vote for him–and against Kerry.
In 2006, Bush’s popularity plummeted. He was seen as having betrayed almost every one of his core constituencies in some way. Republicans had had a secure lock on the presidency, Senate and House for 2 years. They could have rolled through a whole agenda of conservative issues.
They dropped the ball on abortion and any number of other issues. They *used* their majority to try and help Terri Schiavo, but they backed down to the judiciary’s unconstitutional refusal to obey Congress, and further solidified Judicial Tyranny.
In 2006, Republicans lost: not because Americans had lost faith in conservatism, but because conservatives had lost faith in Republicans. Meanwhile, the Michael Moore Pothead Anarchists came out in droves.
As 2008 loomed, I a Republican win possible only with two conditions: a strong conservative nominee against Hillary Clinton. When the media nominated McCain, Romney and Giuliani back in mid 2007, I couldn’t see any one of them mustering enough of the various factions of the Right to even beat Hillary, much less Obama.
The thing people don’t understand is that the Michael Moore anarchists and the Ralph Nader communists will vote for Al Gore or John Kerry if they see it promoting their agenda. American Life League-style pro-lifers, National Rifle Association members, libertarians, anti-taxers and strict constructionists won’t vote for “the lesser of two evils.” They only vote for someone who they perceive as favoring their convictions. In the end, while Russell Kirk always insisted that conservativism is not about ideology, it is about ideals. Liberalism is ultimately about the quest for power. Republicans usually talk about their convictions . Democrats usually talk about power.
When McCain won the nomination, I kept holding out hope for two things: his wife and his running mate. I’ve withheld my decision on whom to vote for until finding out about the VP.
Another one of my long-held maxims is that we won’t see a truly pro-life administration till we see a pro-life first lady (Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush are all pro-abortion). Cindy McCain is the real deal, regardless of her husband’s issues, and she has shown in the past that she can sway him.
Now, we get Sarah Palin, who, literally out of left field (or, rather, Northwest Field), has mobilized the Right.
Pat Buchanan is happy.
Rush Limbaugh is happy.
Laura Ingraham is happy.
Judie Brown is noncommittal. (but she has to be, especially on EWTN’s forums)
Fr. Deacon Paul Weyrich is happy.
Torture loving “Catholic” Kathryn Jean Lopez is grudging.
The collective editors of National Review are happy.
Keyes apparently isn’t happy, but many of his columnists at www.renewamerica.us are.
Liberals are furious. Obama’s numbers have gone up among baby-killing feminazis.
That is a good thing.
Conservative women are happy. NRA types are happy. Pro-lifers and Evangelicals are happy. Many Catholics are happy.
There is suddenly major hope for this election to be a complete turnaround: a renunciation of both the Democrats and Dubya’s Big Government “Conservatism.”
Remember, Bush may be the lowest-rated president in history right now, but his ratings are still higher than those of the Democrat-controlled Congress.