Don't Sweat the Presidency, Focus on Congress
In 1996, Joan Rivers quipped that trying to choose between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton was like "trying to pick your favorite Menendez brother." But today, as primary season approaches and with it, the moment when I must choose between Messrs. Romney and Not-Romney, there are days when I almost wish I could vote for a Menendez brother. Or a Marx Brother.
Unfortunately, Lyle, Erik, Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo are not running this year. Instead, at least as of this writing according to polls, the choices boil down to Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich. One longs for the day when a conservative could actually like a GOP candidate instead of trying to decide which flawed candidate is flawed the least, but here we are. And for me, the biggest flaw, which both candidates share, is that I cannot say, as I sit here today, that I have any clear sense of what either man would actually do as President. Even when they tell me what they would do, I don't believe them.
I suspect that many (read, most) conservatives have the same problem I do. So allow me to propose a solution. First, you will need to be registered to vote in your state's primary. You will also need a coin -- or a poker chip or a bottle cap, anything that has a "heads" and a "tails." Take the coin, poker chip or bottle cap with you, assign heads or tails to each candidate, flip the coin, poker chip or bottle cap and vote accordingly.
That's step one. Step two: Contribute every cent and devote as much time as you can spare to elect conservative Representatives and Senators. They're the ones who write, pass and occasionally obey the nation's laws. So while a president can demand, demagogue, cajole, beg and whine for whatever policy he wants, at the end of the day, he can sign only the legislation that Congress sends him And how likely is a president to veto whatever legislation Congress does send, provided that (a) a majority of the American people support the legislation and (b) a critical mass of legislators are willing to stand against the leader of their party and for their constituents.
Of course, whom we send to Congress always matters, but never has it mattered more than it will in 2012. In 2013 and going forward, if we are to save this country, it is vital that the next president, especially if President Obama is reelected, face a Congress that will send him only good, conservative legislation and drive a wooden stake into the bad, liberal stuff before it can rise from the coffin.
There are recent precedents for the effectiveness of this approach. When George W. Bush tried to enact a de facto unlawful immigrant amnesty law, a determined Congress, backed by an outraged populace, were able to stop the bill in its tracks. Republican Congressmen and Senators were also able to force Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court.
Bear in mind, also, that these two things were initiated and accomplished by a Congress that, though ideologically right of center, was hardly what a conservative would call conservative. Imagine, then, what a truly and overwhelmingly conservative Congress could accomplish, even with a Democrat in the White House.
Let all conservatives therefore pledge to do all that we can to make ensure that the next Congress is not just more Republican, but also more - ideally, much more - conservative than the current one.
Gene Schwimmer is the author of The Christian State.