Two possibilities for saving the Republican Party loom large in 2008: Pick a candidate who can realign both parties. Do it in a brokered convention.
Sounds impossible? Not at all. In fact, there is a better likelihood of both things happening this year than in any presidential-election year since 1980, when Ronald Reagan sculpted his revolutionary coalition of social, economic, and national-security conservatives.
He did it by showing enough independents and “Reagan Democrats” that their best interests lay in a political party led by someone with unwavering fidelity to those blessed ties that bound them together.
That sounds like so much mush and wistful thinking in this current circus into which the national media have corrupted an already goofus political sack race of early primaries.
It was an anthropologist’s delight to witness their coverage of the Iowa cluster-copulation. Broadcast networks, blog-cloggers, and incessant-cable chatterers worked themselves into an unseemly frenzy, leading up to and during the frozen caucuses. It was simply embarrassing to watch adults engaging in such puerile exhibitionism.
To listen to them carrying on so, worshipping at the shrine of each newly minted opinion poll and falling all over themselves when real life failed to support the revelations from their owls’ entrails, one would think something actually important was taking place — indeed, nothing short of a new age dawning.
Tear yourself away from the tube long enough for some common-sense conversation with family, friends, and the local barber. It’s like walking out of a psychedelic fog bank into fresh air and sunlight.
In the Republican lists especially, trying to gauge which candidate is ahead of whom day by day during one primary and then on into the fast-revolving door of each successive primary is like handicapping a horse race frame-by-frame with a high-speed camera over a year-long track. It’s reminiscent of a troop of Boy Scouts on their first 12-mile hike, consulting a compass and Texaco map every three minutes and saying, “Here we are, but where are we?”
Because of that head-swimming tsunami of irrelevant information spewing from every masscomm orifice, this is going to sound far fetched. Indeed, it is fetched far from what appears at the moment to be reality. It takes a patient climb to a higher elevation to see how the land really lies, what the realities clearly are: Clear reality No. 1: The nomination is not destined to be decided in the so-called Super-Duper Tuesday, Feb. 5, GOP primaries (19 of them on that one day). Clear reality No. 2: Who’s in, who’s out on any given day of any given week along the route to the Sept. 1-4 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis will not determine the nominee. Clear reality No. 3: Between now and Sept. 1 will be some of the nastier blood-lettings, cock fights and pit-bull battles ever seen in American politics. Tons of money will be raised, spent and squandered. Masscomm ringmasters will stir the caldron like crazy for their gratification. The dumber the candidates, the more they will oblige, offering themselves as human sacrifices to appease and supplicate the insatiable media gods. Clear reality No. 4: Even if one candidate manages to assemble enough delegates to command dominance at the onset of the convention, it won’t be enough. It might be numerically, but not real-politically. The more-bloodied candidates will have to stand back — and give way to one who is not shell-shocked and disgustingly savaged. Clear reality No. 5: There will still be rational men and women of ultimate influence within the GOP convention. They will have the presence of mind to survey the carnage. What they will see is an American populace absolutely fed up with politics of the outrageous.
Because they have to, they will agree among themselves the party simply cannot send out one of its tarred-and-feathered combatants to face the American people in broad daylight. They will look for, and settle upon, a candidate who can save their bacon for them. Clear reality No. 6: What will be their criteria? It will be someone who realizes, as they do, no Republican is going to be elected president in 2008 by Republican voters alone. They will comprehend that this country is not further left from center than it is right of center. Conservative verities will still be those of a majority of the electorate.
A Republican nominee can still sell those common-sense verities to enough independents and conservative Democrats to carry the day. In short, there will be a belated resurrection of the victorious Reagan coalition. Clear reality No. 7: It will take a Republican who is a clean-hands conservative, who has not waffled or come up 25 percent short on principles to be able to make that sale to the electorate. Clear reality No. 8: Any candidate who succumbs during the primary gingham-dog-and-calico-cat fights out of fear of dropping off the media radar will have self-ejected. Standing consistently on principle, a common-sense conservative candidate can survive the primary season, even though losing more times than winning. Clear reality No. 9: Is such a candidate now in the Republican ranks? There is. Even at this early date it should be obvious to anyone with an ear tuned to Reagan-tested conservative principles.
A candidate exists who understands these principles reach across party lines, and can be articulated in a way that illuminates without adulterating or betraying them. Every voter should start looking at candidates with those criteria foremost in mind. That’s the litmus test. Clear reality No. 10: If this scenario plays out — and it assuredly can — the Republican National Convention has a truly historic opportunity Sept. 1-4. It can realign, and thereby revitalize, the GOP. That can also be the catalytic agent triggering a reformation of the Democratic Party, compelling it to banish the leftist radicals who have seized its throat. That would be nothing short of a rescue of the two-party system, without which the United States cannot long endure.
And it wouldn’t be the first time the Grand Old Party was in position to save the nation.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com.
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