Rush Limbaugh is Right: Conservative Voters Hold the Key to Victory
I made a terrible mistake in 2012: one that I don't plan to repeat. I urged voters to cast their ballots for Mitt Romney, but the evidence that conservatives didn't want Romney was ubiquitous. They voiced their concerns energetically, and I should have listened to them. Now, I'm willing to concede that a responsible candidate for president can't win without enthusiastic conservative support.
My logic for supporting Romney boiled down to this: roughly 50% of our fellow citizens are net takers, and they would vote to support the candidate who promised to continue pouring dollars in their direction -- i.e., Barack Obama. I thought that a real conservative would be rejected by the masses because the net takers would rally to deny him or her the highest office in the land. I thought that nominating someone who wasn't regarded by the takers as a serious threat to their income stream would help to keep them from going to the polls in large numbers.
Many Obama supporters were disenchanted with his performance in office, and they didn't support him in 2012 the way they did in 2008. The president's union thug organizers stepped in and helped to make up for his deficiencies, but they didn't determine the outcome of the election. Conservative voters did that, and as Rush Limbaugh explained, they denied Romney the presidency by not voting:
What would be the reason that three million voters didn't show up? Let's go through the possibilities. It could be that there are a number... We've talked to 'em. We've htad 'em call. We got 'em, in fact, on hold. A number of Republicans are tired of moderate nominees. They've sent the Republican Party money for years and said, "To hell with it. If you're gonna eschew conservatism, I'm not giving you any money, and I'm not voting for you."
At first, Herman Cain was my choice for president. He had business experience; he was likeable; he said the things that conservatives wanted to hear; and he was an African-American. But then he gave an interview to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during which he was unable to answer a simple foreign policy question having to do with President Obama's policy on Libya.
Since that interview took place about two weeks after the Republican foreign policy debate in Spartanburg, South Carolina, I believed that Cain should have been able to handle that question easily and that his inability to provide an articulate response was a disqualifier. I was particularly disheartened by Cain's focus on the decision-making process that he would have used in lieu of answering the question because every president brings together his top advisors before making important decisions.
I wrote a blog about that interview for American Thinker titled "Herman Cain should stick to making pizzas." Looking back, I wish that I had not been so hasty. If Herman Cain had been the Republican nominee for president, I think conservatives would have rallied behind his candidacy; he would have split the African-American vote; he would have won the election; and the nation would have been spared four more years of Obama.
Should Cain have been able to answer that question? Yes.
Was Cain's inability to answer that question a disqualifier? No.
Would the nation be better off today if Cain had been elected president? Yes.
This is the most important lesson that I learned from the 2012 presidential election: passionate conservative support is essential. Without it, the likelihood of electing a president who will move our nation in the right direction is not good.
I'll go one step further: conservative support trumps knowledge about specific issues. Herman Cain was right. The decision-making process is key. Just consider the people to whom President Obama turns for advice: people like Eric Holder, Steven Chu, Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Elizabeth Warren, Van Jones, and a host of other malcontents who are determined to make our country over in their image. As a nation, we would be much better off if President Herman Cain and the advisors that he would have selected were making crucial decisions for our country.
In 2016, I plan to support the conservative candidate warts and all. He or she may not be perfect, but perfection isn't required. If you doubt that, just look at President Obama.
Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.