By Greg Stapley
Much has been said about the faceless “Republican Establishment” that supposedly wants this candidate or that candidate to represent the party in the upcoming presidential election. I don’t know who that is, or if such an Establishment even exists, but the people talking about it ignore one important fact: this thing is in the hands of American voters. And American voters seldom take orders from “establishments.”
This, week one state’s voters have the unique and historic opportunity to seal the decision in what could be the last meaningful contest of this primary season. Illinois voters can determine the course of history by finally picking the opposition candidate to Barack Obama.
We have some great candidates to oppose the current occupant of the White House. Every one of these contenders — Mitt, Rick, Newt, Ron — is a faithful son of the party. Each has substantial electoral credentials, and each of course has a record.
Not one of them is exactly like me or you. Each one is conservative in many things, but none of them has been perfectly consistent in all.
For example, Mitt is an economic conservative, but historically has not been as socially conservative as I am.
Rick is a social conservative, but his repeated earmarking, votes for Davis-Bacon and unbridled debt-limit increases make him anything but an economic conservative.
Ron is a monetary conservative, but he is somewhere to the left of Jane Fonda on national defense and foreign policy.
And Newt is a political conservative, but the danger for political conservatives is that they are political, and sometimes that means they compromise when they shouldn’t, and wind up sitting on a couch with Nancy Pelosi.
But this is undeniable: Every single one of them would be miles ahead of Barack Obama in getting our economic house in order, putting America back to work, and restoring the American values that we hold dear.
This too is undeniable: None of them can win the general election alone. It will take all of us unitedly fighting together against the Obama machine to put our nominee over the top. And we need to start now.
The first step, if our opposition nominee is going to win the general, will be for us as voters to pull them all off of the hamster wheel that this primary has become. You know what I’m talking about: the increasingly cruel and counterproductive exercise in which the candidates are forced to constantly run around the country trying to “out-conservative” each other just to get that next block of delegates. It’s wearing all of them (and us) out, and it will ultimately damage our cause in the Fall.
And so without descending into the quagmire of which one is better than the other on this particular issue or that, it seems like it’s time to pull back and look at the big picture. It’s time to finally figure out which one is best positioned to carry the banner for American values and priorities in the upcoming general election. It’s time to put the debate amongst ourselves to rest. [more photos of romance below the fold]
The funny thing about that quagmire is that the longer we remain in it, the more likely it seems that the quagmire itself will become an issue, and derail our ambitions of retaking the White House and the Congress. We already see these discussions all around us, detracting from the real issues – just exactly what Obama and the liberal Democrats want.
In other words, there is a tipping point, past which the continuing argument itself begins to become a factor in determining whether any of our candidates can win the ultimate prize. That tipping point is now.
Dick Morris recently reminded us that of the four contested conventions that have occurred since 1960 — two of which were Republican and two of which were Democrat — the parties’ ultimate nominee in each case lost the general election. If the current “all-the-way-to-the-convention” crowd has its way, the Republican Party in 2012 can almost certainly count on a similar result — and five more years of an Obama administration unfettered by concerns for reelection or any other form of accountability.
That’s right, five more years. Five more years to execute their healthcare plan and shove Obamacare down our throats. Five more years of union bosses and Acorn socialists treating our White House like their personal cloakroom, and our treasury as their organizational piggy bank. Five more years of unbridled illegal immigration. Five more years of wholesale assaults on the Second Amendment. Five more years of a Justice Department war on responsible states that seek to protect their borders and the integrity of their elections.
Perhaps most alarmingly, five more years and potentially three more Supreme Court appointments – three more Sotomayors and Kagans, and countless liberal lower court judges — who will not just shape the social landscape for those five years, but for 25 or 30 years to come. We’re talking about five more years of power to “fundamentally alter” the very identity of America, just like Obama promised he would.
Whether we call ourselves Conservatives or Moderates or Republicans or Independents or just plain Americans, the stakes for all of us are incredibly, incredibly high. We cannot afford five more years, period.
And so the time has come to finish the game.
And remarkably, fate has dealt Illinois voters a fascinating and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the course of history, by doing just that. Illinois can end the family fight that has become this protracted primary season. Illinois can put one candidate over the top now, while there’s still time to pivot and pound our way to victory in the general election.
If Illinois wants to wield its formidable power to do that, they can do it only one way: by rallying behind the one candidate who is actually within striking distance of the top.
Illinois will rally behind the one candidate who has shown that he has the organization, the fundraising ability, the message and the leadership skills to win 54% of the delegates so far. By the way, 54% is no small achievement for anyone engaged in a four-way race for anything. And yet Mitt Romney has consistently scored well with conservatives, moderates, independents, blue-collar, white-collar, female, and other critical demographics across a number of states, and in some very hard-fought contests.
Illinois will rally to put its indelible stamp on a permanent answer to the all-important questions of who will lead the battle to retake the White House, and when that candidate will get to move past the internal squabble and start that fight.
Illinois will end it, here and now.
Everybody understands that each of the candidates has wonderful things to offer. Mitt’s executive skills are legendary. Rick’s passion is infectious. Newt’s big ideas are exciting. Even Ron’s steadiness on financial issues is refreshing. If we could take our favorite parts of each one of them and meld them into a single super candidate, we’d have a heckuva candidate indeed.
But until modern science figures out how to do those kinds of transplants, we’ll have to get together and pick one of them to carry the ball over the goal line. Mathematically, the only one who can do it now is Mitt. And Illinois voters have been sent on to the field to call the play, take the snap and hand him the ball so we can win. Like a great quarterback, Illinois can lead the whole team to victory.
Everybody wins, even the other candidates. The others have fought well, and will have their places of prominence on the stage ahead.
Santorum is a young man. He still has a bright future ahead of him, if he can muster the personal pragmatism to read the handwriting on the wall, step aside and live to run again. If he systematically moves himself to the right on economic issues in the interim, he can earn the nomination in the future. If on the other hand Republicans fail to deny Obama another term, the damage done to America, the voting process, and society in general could become so severe that it might become difficult for a true conservative to ever be elected again to fill the White House.
Gingrich likewise could do great things for himself and the country by electing to take the prominence he has earned and step aside, support the nominee, and become the true Elder Statesman of the party. That job is open, and he could fill it admirably. But it will be meaningless if his personal quest for the presidency devolves into a scorched-earth policy that cripples the campaign to retake the White House. In that case, history will regard him as a spoiler, and the focus will be turned from his lifetime of accomplishments to this one mindless failure.
And Paul can be an undeniable influence for good. He has earned his place in any debate, and brings a refreshing and decidedly different perspective to Republican politics that needs to be heard. He reaches a part of the base that the others struggle with. He too can rally his followers and become part of the winning campaign strategy in the Fall.
So now’s the moment, Illinois. Chances are around 50-50 that someone besides Mitt might be your favorite player right now. But please take this opportunity to lay aside what the other candidates may have said about him in the heat of battle, and then carefully listen to Mitt’s message, examine his true record, and make your own informed choice about whether he can retake the White House for you, me and America going forward.
And then truly vote your conscience, with that big picture in mind. If you can do that — if Illinois voters can seal the win and give him – and all of us – the chance to start earning the decisive victory that this country and our party need right now — then we can together charge forward and take the fight to Obama, and win back our country.
Greg Stapley is a businessman living with his family in San Juan Capistrano, California
“Integrity is derived from the Latin adjective integer, meaning ‘whole’ or ‘complete.’ Used in this context, we can define it as the inner sense of ‘wholeness’ derived from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character.” — Heart of A Lion, p. 9 [Thank you to @SEAL-of-Honor]