Upper Left Coast

Thoughts on politics, faith, sports and other random topics from a red state sympathizer in indigo-blue Portland, Oregon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'll never vote for him in a million years

(Early warning: this is long, and will probably ramble a bit. You've been warned...)

OK, now a little quiz, based on the following statement:
I won't vote for him in the primary, and if he somehow wins the primary, I won't support him in the general election. He's not a real Republican. His history shows little consistency on issues important to Republicans, and he's even supported Democrats!

Does this statement refer to:
A) Ron Saxton
B) Dave Frohnmeyer
C) John McCain
D) Rudy Guiliani

For some, the answer would be E) All of the Above. For me, the answer is F) None of the Above.

Why am I saying this? Let me explain with a bit of history. During Oregon's recent GOP primary, some of the state's conservatives (myself included) declined to support Ron Saxton for governor. He had too many question marks, and too much history of questionable decisions and positions.

Saxton won that primary, of course, and will take on incumbent Gov. Ted Kulongoski in November. Despite Saxton's victory in the primary, however, some of those same conservatives have made it clear they have no intention of supporting Saxton now that he's the GOP nominee.

He's not a conservative. He's not even a Republican. He's supported Democrats. He's supported tax increases. He's, he's, he's John Kitzhaber in disguise!

I can understand that line of thinking, because there is some truth to many of the charges. Well, maybe not the Kitzhaber part...

But in explaining why some won't support Saxton, there's another line of thinking that I can't understand, and it goes something like this: Ron Saxton is a RINO, and his true nature will be revealed once he gets into office. If he wins, it will set the state GOP back by decades in its efforts to get a real Republican into Mahonia Hall.

I guess I just don't see that as likely. Frankly, I don't see it in our society as a whole. If Saxton wins and is revealed to be squishy, that may cost him any chance at reelection. Voters may support his opponent because of dissatisfaction over his leadership. But four years later, a different Republican will run, the voters will have forgotten about Ron Saxton, and the state will make its decision based on who it sees on that ballot.

Let's assume again that Saxton wins and proves to be squishy. The same line of thinking I quoted above (setting the state GOP back by decades) would suggest that Saxton will fail miserably in his reelection attempt. However, I even have a hard time buying that. For every conservative who might be ticked at Saxton's squishiness, there's another independent voter who will be pleasantly surprised that Saxton isn't fighting to lead the Republican Theocracy of Oregon.

Yes, if he wins (once or twice), it will be that much longer before a "real" Republican might be elected. But tell me -- how many "real" Republicans have been elected to statewide office in Oregon in your lifetime? Why reject an opportunity for a different direction, even if it's not exactly the direction you would choose?

And again, most people will vote based on who's on the ballot. They will compare the candidates, their records and their rhetoric, and vote accordingly.

Oh, that reminds me of a related thought that I can't grasp: I'd rather vote for a Democrat than a squishy Republican, because at least then I know what I'm getting.

I simply don't know what to say to that. I would argue that a marginal Republican is still better than a consistent liberal, because at least you might get some issues to fall your way. I would also argue that aiming for ideological purity is a futile ambition. (Real life example: who would you rather have in the U.S. Senate: Gordon Smith, or his 2002 opponent, Bill Bradbury? Or perhaps 1996 opponent Tom Bruggere?)

Maybe I'm just projecting what I think should happen onto the state. I think people should vote in every election, and even if they aren't jumping up and down about a candidate, they should pick the one that most closely matches their political values. Not what the previous candidate of the same party did. Not based on the national political situation. Should. I know that's unrealistic in a state where two-thirds of voters didn't bother to participate in a mail-in primary election.

Looking at it on a national scale, the United States will vote for a new president in two years. Even if our nation selects the Democratic candidate because of its weariness over the current administration, the 2012 campaign will be waged on the ideas of the Democratic administration vs. the Republican challenger. Not over what George W. Bush did in the previous decade. (I realize it's not quite that simple, as issues raised during Bush's presidency will be discussed long after he's gone; but I do feel that, by and large, the debate will be on how the 2012 candidates address those issues, not what Bush did with them.)

While I respect much of what George W. Bush has done as president, I'm certainly not enamored of his presidency as a whole, particularly his spending habits. But does that dissatisfaction mean I would consider supporting a Democrat in the next election? Get real.

I will not vote for John McCain in the primary, but if he somehow earns the presidential nomination, I will (barring something unforeseen) vote for him in the general election. Why? Because the alternative -- whoever it is -- will be less desireable. Regardless of whether it be Hillary Clinton or John Kerry or Al Gore or whomever, there is no one on the Democratic side of the aisle who is a better choice than McCain.

I know, I know . . . McCain foisted campaign finance reform upon us (leading to the domination of 527s in the last election), held several judicial nominees hostage with the Gang of 14, and has not been the favorite person for the Immigration Right.

But multiply that many times over with a Democrat in the White House.

Now, let's pretend that McCain not only wins the GOP nomination but the presidency as well. And let's assume that he's as squishy a president as he has been a senator. Will I be thrilled with him? Will I hope for "four more years"? Almost certainly not. But if he runs for reelection, barring a challenge from a Zell Miller Democrat, I will vote for him again. Just as I did for Bush in 2004. (And besides, a Zell Miller Democrat will never escape the Democratic primaries.) I will vote for him because the Democratic Party has shown itself (evident most recently in Connecticut) to be firmly in the grasp of the loony left, and a candidate of the loony left will be dangerous to America.

So a few months from now in Oregon, we will vote for a governor. If Ron Saxton wins, I hope he turns out to be a solid conservative. If he doesn't, there is nothing in my wildest nightmares that makes me think any Democrat will be preferable. And in 2010, barring the unimaginable (a successful primary challenge, a conservative Democrat, or a decision not to seek reelection), I will vote for him again. If he loses to a Democrat, the state will look at the incumbent in 2014 and compare him (or her) to the Republican challenger, and make a decision based on the candidates. Not what Ron Saxton did in the previous decade.

And I would argue that those who vote against Saxton (actively or passively) because he's not sufficiently pure, in a state where the last Republican governor left office while Ronald Reagan was still president, are shooting themselves in the foot.

Again, maybe I'm projecting unreasonable expectations, but that's how I see it.


  • At 8/11/2006 11:10 AM, Blogger John Eyler said…

    I completely agree with your reasoning. In fact, I've held this line since the primary. The Dems are on record offering up our sovereignty to the United Nations. They can't be allowed to hold public office with this destructive ideology in play.

  • At 8/14/2006 5:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You should get some information on what happened in Connecticut beyond whatever conservative media has been feeding you. Ned Lamont is only "loony left" if you consider Joe Lieberman a mainstream Democrat, which he is clearly not. Lieberman lost largely because Connecticut Democrats have come to oppose Lieberman's position on the war--as approximately 60 percent of the entire electorate has, if I am recalling the polling correctly. In Lamont, Connecticut Dems chose a candidate more in tune with their views than Lieberman. Simple as that. Not loony at all--once you strip away the opportunistic political nonsense with which conservative media has reported on the primary.


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