Ken Blackwell has a really good opinion piece today:
The fact that conservatives are going in different directions right now gives rise to three questions they need to ask themselves. This week’s Family Research Council Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. – where all the major GOP candidates will speak – presents the perfect forum.
The first question is whether they can vote for a candidate with whom they have disagreed on one or more key issues. If they can’t, then they can’t vote for any of the top-tier GOP candidates. Messrs. Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain and Fred Thompson have all had stances on key issues with which social conservatives have disagreed.
If they can vote for someone with whom they have disagreed, the second question they need to ask is: Do they vote for the candidate who personally shares their views on marriage, abortion and Second Amendment rights, or do they vote for the candidate who will best advance conservative beliefs on those issues?
Ronald Reagan is not running this year. Then again, even before he was president, Reagan did not live up to the standard of President Reagan.
Mr. Reagan was a former Democrat who was divorced and who supported President Roosevelt’s expansion of the federal government. He enacted tax increases and expanded abortion rights when he was governor of California. Yet conservatives now rightfully recognize him as one of the greatest presidents in our country’s history.
As president, he gave us tax cuts, a stronger military, respect for religious expression, pro-life policies, a major pro-Second Amendment law, and a more conservative Supreme Court. He delivered, and America is better off for it. Blackwell makes a good point. There are big differences between Reagan and the GOP hopefuls today though. Reagan ran for President as a pro-life conservative, changing his positions on social issues not on the eve of a run for president, but rather over time before entering presidential politics. But Blackwell’s points in the excerpt above and in the full column are good ones (read the whole column), and the questions he suggests are ones many conservatives will be asking themselves over the coming year. Rudy Giuliani suggested voters ask similar questions when I heard him speak in Raleigh this spring. Here is an excerpt from my post on his speech then:
One thing that seemed to impress, and I heard this independently from at least four different people, was the fact that at no time did Rudy try to pander to the conservative audience by trying to wiggle out of any position or explain any of them away. He explained it this way, if you agree with a candidate on 80 percent of the issues, then for the 20 percent you don’t agree you have to decide how significant your differences are and how important those issues are to you overall. He said straight up that some people will find his positions on some issues will make it unable for them to vote for him. He said he would tell those people they should vote for someone else. In response to one question about gun control he asked the questioner “what do you think my position is?” making the point that some of the things people believed about his positions on gun control, abortion, gay rights, etc., are not the same as his positions.
Blackwell says in his piece that liberals are delighted that many Republicans are unhappy with the choices in front of them, but that they should not uncork the champagne yet. I agree. The Dobson threat to start a third party if Giuliani wins the nomination got big attention, but getting a little less attention is the less than enthusiastic support for the Democrats’ leading candidate, Hillary, by many liberals. There are more than a few liberals in the “ABC” (anyone but Clinton) camp. This is definitely going to continue to be an interesting race to watch.