We are entirely justified in being desperately afraid of what an Obama re-election would mean for our country, but we do not have to let this frighten us into accepting the Washington-pundit wisdom which insists that only Mitt Romney can defeat Obama.
It is no secret that the conservative base of the Republican party is not enthusiastic about Romney, and it is fallacious to suppose that mere opposition to Obama, even opposition that has been building for four years, will be enough to motivate the base to hold their noses and vote for someone who doesn't excite them. People do stay home when they are unhappy with the choices on the ballot. Perhaps that isn't right, but it is reality.
The vast pool of Republican candidates has only yielded two real conservatives - Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum. Bachman is out, but Santorum has proven a formidable dark horse, and if conservatives aren't afraid to get behind him, he could indeed go on to defeat Romney.
When Ambassador John Bolton endorsed Romney on Wednesday, he cited the famous Buckley rule of "find the most conservative candidate who is capable of getting elected." But the Buckley rule can more accurately be applied to Santorum, not because Washington pundits can claim that he is potentially appealing to unpredictable independents, but because his conservatism and fighting spirit can excite and inspire the conservative base at large to go vote for him and not simply against Obama. That is the sort of support that generates critical voter turnout and ultimately wins elections. Romney isn't capable of producing that momentum, and Team Obama knows it, even if the Republican establishment doesn't.
As Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said after the Republican debate last week, "Mitt Romney won tonight because no one touched him. And for Democrats, you know what? It was good news for us . . . we believe that the weakest candidate is the candidate that the Republicans are not attacking. And that's Mitt Romney."