By Chuck Muth
There’s something a lot of Republicans need to learn, especially this year: Many voters don’t vote with their heads, but with their hearts. The person they select on their ballot isn’t always a logical choice, but an emotional one. So Republicans who can and do come to the absolutely logical conclusion that the November election is a choice between John McCain and Barack Obama need to understand that for a lot of conservative voters that logic simply isn’t enough.
As Newt Gingrich might say, that’s not a problem, it’s a reality.
Logically, conservatives should vote for McCain as the lesser of the two evils. But many conservatives – fed up with a Republican president who has expanded government in ways even LBJ couldn’t have imagined, and a GOP Congress which has aided-and-abetted this massive betrayal of the party’s most fundamental limited-government principles – aren’t thinking logically. They want to teach the party a lesson. Again. As apparently losing control of both houses of Congress in 2006 wasn’t enough.
GOP partisans can kvetch about this until the cows come home. They can berate, insult and lambaste these conservatives all they want. It just won’t do any good. Bashing conservatives who point to the historical fact that it took the utter failure of Jimmy Carter’s presidency to make Ronald Reagan possible cannot be browbeaten into voting for John McCain. This sledgehammer approach will result in nothing more than conservatives digging in their heels even further.
In fact, the only logical argument which still might hold some sway with some of these frustrated conservatives is the Supreme Court.
It’s an old argument – but its power to persuade is less this election than in years past. The reality is that while there could well be two vacancies during the next president’s term, those vacancies are likely to be for two of the Court’s liberal members, Justices Stevens and Ginsberg. Should Obama win, he’d get to replace two liberals with two liberals. So the philosophical make-up of the court would be a wash. While conservatives wouldn’t gain anything, they wouldn’t lose anything either.
And many conservatives probably could have lived with that – as long as the Court didn’t hand down any outrageous new decisions this summer showing that the Court still had not moved far enough to the right, thus firing up conservatives to the point of again making the Supreme Court a decisive electoral issue in November.
First the Court ruled, 5-4, that captured Islamic terrorists with absolutely no regard for American human life whatsoever are entitled to the same constitutional rights and privileges as a United States citizen. Then this week the Court ruled, again 5-4, that it is cruel and unusual punishment for men who rape little girls under the age of 12 to get the death penalty. Replacing even one of the five liberal justices on the wrong side of these rulings would indeed change the course of legal jurisprudence in this country for years to come. So simply maintaining the status quo isn’t looking like such an acceptable thing after all.
And then there was yesterday’s DC gun ban decision. The court got this one right – but only by a 5-4 decision. Citizens of the United States of American damn near lost a critical God-given legal right to self-defense by one stinking vote. While this Court has extended unwarranted rights to suspected non-American terrorists and child rapists in recent days, it almost took away the individual right to keep and bear arms the same way it took away free speech rights when it upheld the outrageous McCain-Feingold law and took away private property rights in the outrageous Kelo decision.
Thanks to these three Supreme Court decisions, many conservatives may now feel compelled to return to the GOP flock, hold their noses REAL tight, and vote for John McCain in November. And if the Arizona senator does end up in the White House, he’d better wake up every morning with this prayer: “God save this honorable Court, because it sure saved my bacon.”
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. The views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Outreach. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.