Most voters know that we will be electing a new President in November. What many don't realize is that the primary election season which began in Iowa on January 3rd will be over for all practical purposes when the polls close in 22 states (including California) on February 5th. By then, if not well before, the two major political parties will have chosen their nominees and a ridiculously long nine-month general election campaign will have begun. To this point, only three of fifty states (Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wyoming) have held their primaries (or caucuses) and some prominent candidates have already thrown in the towel or are on the verge of doing so due to a combination of poor performance and dwindling cash.
What does this mean for you? It means that if you don't hurry up, do your homework, and get behind the candidate of your choice (with your support and your cash) you won't have any choices remaining by the time the primary campaign rolls into your state. Your candidate may already be out of the game when you get ready to go to the polls.
For instance, the following Democrats have already called an end to their campaigns: Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd. John Edwards maintains a slim hope that he can pick up some momentum, and Dennis Kucinich is technically still in the race, but he is just a sideshow to the Clinton/Obama act taking place in the center ring.
On the Republican side, five major candidates are still very much in the mix, and that doesn't even count Ron Paul, who has garnered a lot of attention lately (both positive and negative) and who has been very successful raising funds and gathering grass root support.
The OC Domer blog comes to you from the Orange County, California. This is Reagan Country. Yet, when I look at the crop of candidates running for the opportunity to carry the torch for the GOP, I am very disappointed to see that flame of Ronald Reagan conservatism has been nearly extinguished in today's Republican party. After looking at the field, I have concluded that the ONLY candidate who can make a legitimate claim to being Ronald Reagan's political heir is Fred Thompson. Reagan conservatism combined (1) traditional American family values (social conservatism), (2) with fiscal conservatism and federalism (lower taxes, smaller Federal government), and (3) unapologetic belief in American strength and virtue (strong defense and promotion of Democracy abroad). Today's crop of Republican candidates seem to think that if you check off any of those three boxes you qualify as "conservative."
Mike Huckabee is undoubtedly a social conservative. But quite frankly his brand of social conservatism worries me. As a Baptist minister Mike Huckabee doesn't just tolerate or respect religion, he believes that his religion should "drive" the decisions he makes in his professional life. He believes that Government policy should reflect his religious beliefs. I would be much more comfortable with a President that allowed his decisions to be "driven" by the Constitution rather than by Baptist religious teaching. Huckabee also lacks critical experience in foreign policy, and his credentials as a fiscal conservative remain in doubt. And of course, it worked out so well the last time we elected a former Governor of Arkansas.
Rudy Giuliani is very strong on "law and order" issues and has shown some ability to operate as a chief executive. But his record on lower taxes, smaller government, and social issues makes it abundantly clear that he is not a "conservative" candidate. He's still far superior to any Democrat, but not a worthy GOP nominee.
Before Thompson entered the race, Mitt Romney held some interest for me. When he ran the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City I was very impressed by him and I thought he had the presence and the charisma to be a good Presidential candidate. Those things are still true. But it seems that Mitt is working very hard to manufacture conservative credentials that aren't really there. For example, he came into California and stole the endorsement of the California Republican Assembly, the state's oldest and largest Republican volunteer organization that was once called the "conscience of the Republican Party" by Ronald Reagan. How did they do this? In the run-up the CRA's November endorsing convention, Romney supporters established (and funded the membership of) numerous brand new CRA units, each of which then sent five Romney delegates to the convention, enough to garner the important and difficult-to-obtain CRA endorsement. Of course, those CRA units never existed before, and they aren't expected to exist after this election cycle. Legal tactics? Sure. Hardball? Sure. Honest? No. Combine this underhanded campaign style with Romney's dubious conservative credentials as Governor of Massachusetts, and Romney has lost my support. By the way, the candidate who was the (honest) second place finisher to Romney at the CRA endorsing convention? Fred Thompson.
John McCain is an American hero. As a captive of the communists in North Viet Nam he made great sacrifices for this country. But today he is a captive of the entrenched Washington DC establishment, and thanks to McCain-Feingold, it is my Constitutional right of free political speech that has been sacrificed. John McCain is no conservative. How do I know? Name for me please one true conservative politician in Washington DC who is as beloved by the mainstream media as John McCain? You can't. True conservatives are torn down, ridiculed, and ignored by the media in Washington, not celebrated. McCain is loved in Washington because he is good for a sound bite, and because he is only too willing to embrace liberal causes in the name of bipartisanship. John McCain is not the solution to our problems in Washington - he is part of the problem in Washington.
Fred Thompson is the only true conservative in this race. He is the only candidate willing to stand up to special interests and say "No, I will not spend Federal dollars on your pet project, because that is not the proper role of the Federal government." Fred Thompson is the only candidate that seems to understand, let alone embrace, the idea that the Federal government should not be all things to all people but should instead carry out the limited roles assigned to it by the Constitution. Here are the "First Principles" of Fred Thompson's campaign, as set forth on his web site:
Those are core beliefs that would do Ronald Reagan proud, and they are why OC Domer endorses Fred Thompson for President, and why you see the Fred08 button at the top of the right-hand column on this page.
Individual Liberty . As Jefferson spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, our basic rights come from God, not from government, and that among these inalienable rights is the right to liberty. We must allow individuals to lead their lives with minimal government interference.
Personal Responsibility . The corollary to liberty is responsibility. No society can succeed and thrive for any duration unless free people act in a responsible way. All of us must take responsibility for our actions and strive to improve our own lives and to contribute to building a better society.
Free Markets . Free people are best equipped to order their own affairs, and the common interest benefits from and is improved by the aggregate success of all. We must reform our tax system, encourage investment, support entrepreneurial spirit, open markets abroad to American goods, and minimize burdensome government regulations to continue to expand the economy and bring increased wealth to all Americans.
Limited Government . Government must be strong enough to protect us, competent enough to provide basic government services, but limited by the delineated powers in the Constitution.
Federalism . Our Constitution innovatively guarantees our liberties by spreading power among the three branches of the federal government, and between the federal government and the states. In considering any action by the government, we must always ask two questions: is the government better equipped than the private sector to perform the task and, if so, what level of government (federal or state) ought to do it. Washington is not the seat of all wisdom. (More on Federalism)
Protecting our Country . The first responsibility of the federal government is to protect the nation and the American people. There is no more important task. We must have a strong and effective military, capable intelligence services, and a vigorous law enforcement and homeland security capacity.
Traditional American Values . A healthy society is predicated on belief in God; respect for all life; strong families centered on the institution of marriage—the union of a man and a woman; and self-respect and tolerance of others. While we are all free to live our lives in the pursuit of our own happiness, the government has a responsibility to respect the right of parents to raise their children and to promote the values that produce the strongest society.
The Rule of Law . We protect our liberty, secure our rights, and promote a just and stable society through the rule of law. We owe to ourselves and our fellow citizens our own adherence to the rules, but tough law enforcement and punishment for those who do not. A free and independent judiciary that interprets the law by adhering strictly to legal text and respects its limited role in our system of government is essential to our security and freedom, and we need judges who understand that role if we are to preserve our republic and freedom.
Conserving Our Nation’s Resources . Each of us is put on Earth for a limited period of time. We must always strive to ensure that the resources we use to lead our lives are here for future generations to enjoy and use as well.
If you care about politics and elections, the time to get involved with supporting your favorite candidate is now. If you plan to wait until Summer, or even until next month, you will find that your choice of candidate has already been made for you, by people in Iowa, South Carolina, or Florida who may not see things the same way you do.
If you are a true Republican, then I hope you'll visit Fred Thompson's web site to learn more about his candidacy and to offer him your support. It's crunch time for Fred right now, as he didn't fare too well in Iowa or New Hampshire. He has set up camp in South Carolina and has targeted the January 19th primary there as the one that will either be the springboard for his campaign or the end of the line. He is finally starting to gain some traction there. By almost every account he dominated the recent GOP debate, and the endorsement he received from Human Events magazine has greatly elevated his profile in the race. If conservatives don't get active right now, they're going to be left to chose between the liberal candidate and the more liberal candidate in November.
[ADDED 1/18/2008: Welcome to our RealClearPolitics.com readers! If you enjoy your visit, I hope you'll vote our article onto the front page over there.]