This past January, I posted an article that looked at some of the things that influence our decisions about whom we decide (not) to vote for. I encouraged my readers to get past the more frivolous concerns (e.g., how a candidate dresses or a particular personality quirk) and to be fair-minded in assessing each candidate’s personal history and professional record. In addition to ideological considerations, I also urged people to seriously consider practical matters — e.g., campaign organization, finances, momentum. Can a particular candidate effectively counter the “progressive” attacks and articulate the conservative message? And, of course, can s/he get enough popular support from various types of voters — e.g., minorities, religious, TEA party — in the various precincts to have a real chance of winning in the general election?
Okay. Let’s assume you do your best, try to figure out which (relatively) conservative candidate has the best chance of beating Obama in November 2012, vote accordingly, but… your optimal choice doesn’t get the Republican nomination. In fact, for the sake of argument, let’s stipulate that your last choice gets the nomination. What then?
Do you stalk off in a metaphorical huff and refuse to vote in the general election, claiming that you cannot in good conscience support the winner? Do you vote for a 3rd-party candidate — maybe one of those who lost the nomination or dropped out early — so that you can be “true to your ideals” and not compromise? OR, do you bite the bullet, actively (if reluctantly) support and vote for the GOP nominee, because s/he now has the best chance of defeating President Obama and restoring our nation?
I vote for choice #3.
Look, IMHO, refusing to vote would be just plain foolish. Voting for a 3rd-party candidate that you like better would be foolish, too. In either case, you’d be effectively throwing your vote away, and that only helps the Left stay in power. Same principle goes for just about any election, for any national office.
Take Mitt Romney. (Please!) Like many of my fellow conservatives, I think Romney is much more of an ideological moderate than he now tries to portray himself to be. I think he would be OK (not great) on a few things. But, I have serious concerns about where he actually stands on “social” issues and about his apparent timidity when it comes to really fixing what’s wrong in Washington. (Not that anyone can do it on their own, of course.) In short, let’s just say he is not my favorite. On the other hand, if Romney is on the Republican ticket for President in 2012 — and it is virtually certain that he will be, at this point –, you better believe I’m gonna vote for Romney. (Just as I did for McCain. Shudder!)
None of this 3rd-party stuff! Even if it looks like he doesn’t need my vote to beat Obama ‘cuz he’s got a “safe margin”, I’m not gonna take a chance by throwing a vote at Candidate X just to “make a statement.”
If best polls/surveys — not to mention history — indicate that some 3rd-party Candidate X (e.g., Ron Paul?) can’t get any more than 20% or so (and I’m being charitable), then any votes for them are essentially wasted. Plus, if X wasn’t running, many of those votes would likely go to the Republican ticket, so they are in effect siphoning off votes and increasing the chances of getting Obama (or, in another election, another “progressive”/Leftie) in office.
Historically, 3rd-party candidates usually only get a fraction of a percent of the votes in presidential elections. (Not sure about other national elections, but I think they’re usually relatively low percentages. Third parties sometimes do better in local elections.) The most successful independent bid for President in recent times was by H. Ross Perot in 1992. In June, Perot led the nationwide polls with 39%, but by election-time he only received 18.9% of the popular vote and no electoral college votes.
So, if I have to place a bet — which I am with my vote — I have to go with the candidate I think has the best probability of beating the guy/gal on the Left in the general election. I might feel better voting for Candidate X, but if nothing good comes of it, why is it a good choice?
“In 2008, 30 million evangelical Christians sat at home and didn’t vote, because they were not enthused by John McCain. Barack Obama won by 10 million votes. And I’m afraid that’s what’s going to happen in the 2012 election.” — Dr. Robert Jeffress, on MSNBC with Alex Witt
Our duty is to choose the best candidate possible, even if s/he doesn’t completely agree with us on every issue. (Even if they seem to flip-flop on some important ones.) When conservatives insist on “voting their conscience” or “making a statement”, either by voting for a 3rd-party candidate or protesting by refusing to vote — kinda like a kid crossing his arms and refusing to cooperate, nyah! — rather than making a practical decision, then we get someone like Obama in office. And, as we have seen, all of the people and the nation as a whole suffer, as do our allies & partners internationally, not just some stubborn Republicans. Some in the GOP may need to learn a lesson or two, I agree, but not at the expense of four more years of an Obamanation. We can’t afford it!!!
Now, I know you’re frustrated with a GOP establishment — or, at least, a few key individuals — that appears to have wandered from conservative principles. And you hate the idea of helping to put someone in the Oval Office that might continue some of the big-government policies you despise. Yeah, me too. But, realistically speaking, think of the alternative!
You know what else we can do to fix that problem? Continue to vote in solid, consistent (wherever possible) conservatives to Congress this November. Since the executive has to work with the legislative branch to pass laws and implement policies, we can help keep a moderate Republican president/administration on the “right” path by getting more conservatives elected to Congress. Supporting TEA Party candidates is a good start, but that might not always be feasible. So, remember. We want the ones in office that have the best chance of doing the most good.
Consider what Newt Gingrich said awhile back when asked if he would vote for Romney, if Romney was the GOP nominee. Despite having just accused Romney and his campaign of being dishonest, Gingrich affirmed that he would vote for Romney:
“He would be much less destructive than Barack Obama.”
Romney later said something similar at the Myrtle Beach debate on FNC. He stated that if one of the other contenders got the GOP nomination, he would definitely vote for them, ‘cuz they would be better than Obama.
And that’s really the point. We’ve got to make sure Barack Obama is a one-term President! (Honestly, I got sick of hearing Michele Bachmann repeat that over & over, but it’s the truth.)
I would rather be able to say to my family, friends, and God that I voted for the person I thought had the best chance to do some good (i.e., the Republican candidate, whomever they may be), rather than throwing my vote away, either by not voting at all or by voting for someone I preferred more but who had no real chance of getting elected. (Sorry, Newt! Maybe next time.) When it comes down to it, in the general election, I’ll gladly vote for any of the Republican candidates against Obama (or any other liberal/progressive). ABO! No question.
Please, don’t just make a statement. Try to make a difference.
P.S. If you agree with me, please share the link to this post with your friends, family, and associates who may be struggling with the idea of supporting & voting for the Republican nominee.