An Open Letter to Republican Presidential Primary Voters

by Jeff Knox

Dear Republicans:

Could we please have a serious, pro-rights, pro-Constitution candidate for the office of President this time? For the past several elections you have passed over good, pro-rights, pro-Constitution candidates – or never come up with any – in favor of wishy-washy "moderates" with poll-based values and elastic principles. Make no mistake: the rights movement, and the wide array of activists concerned about constitutional liberty and restoration of the Republic, will not endorse, support, or actively work for any candidate who does not have a proven record of personal commitment to the Constitution and individual liberty.

Please do not be suckered into nominating another bland "moderate" based on the lie of "electability." The question of a person's electability can only be definitively answered in a flat-out run for office. Anything short of that is just speculation. Granted, some would-be candidates are clearly unelectable from the start. Others are obviously long shots. But the only way to get a candidate's true measure is to give your support to the candidate – or candidates – who best represent your values and vision for the nation and do your best to push that – or those – candidate(s) to the top of the list in the primaries, straw polls, and other preliminary popularity contests. Don't let the pundits, the experts, pragmatists, "moderates," or the mainstream media convince you that you should throw your support behind a candidate who doesn't reflect your values and vision based on a wholly manufactured concept of electability.

To understand the Electability Hoax you need to understand the arguments about electability.

The assumption is that a hard right, or extremely conservative candidate is not electable in larger cities, statewide elections for Senate and Governor, and definitely unelectable for the office of President of the United States. Why? Because, the electability theory assumes that the voting public is neatly divided into three relatively equal segments: Republicans, Democrats, and independents/others and it is the independents/others who ultimately decide who the President (or Senator, or Governor) will be. Since this third voting bloc divides the Republicans and the Democrats, the pushers of "electability," including most of the media, paint it as being in the middle philosophically and politically. That is the central fallacy at the heart of the Electability Hoax: the myth of the independent, centrist voter.

The fact is that while more people have decided to officially disassociate themselves from formal party affiliation, most of those voters are just as ideologically driven as they ever were. Rather than reflecting some mythical middle-ground of political philosophy, they mirror the ratio of broad political opinions found in declared partisans.

A smaller, but nonetheless slice of independent voters make up the so-called third parties. None of those parties is called the Wishy-Washy Compromiser Party. Nor is there one called the Middle-of-the-Road-a-Little-Republican-and-a-Little-Democrat Party. These independent parties range from the Communist, Socialist, and Green parties on the "more government, less liberty" side to the Constitution, Natural Law, and Libertarian parties on the "less government, more liberty" side. The net effect is two core political philosophies, which are relatively evenly split with a slight advantage shifting from one side to the other.

The next fallacy within the Electability Hoax is the idea that whoever ends up being the Republican candidate will receive the same level of support – during the campaign and at the ballot box – from the Republican base its core interest groups. That is absolutely, utterly, and completely not true, and you Republicans should know better by now. In a race between an anti-rights Democrat and a moderately pro-rights Republican, rights advocates will certainly trail along toward the side of the Republican, but they will not do it with gusto and a good many of them will simply walk away in disgust – as they did when Republicans offered George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain.

Certainly it is essential that a Republican presidential candidate be able to draw votes from Democrats, independents, and third parties, but the key to those votes does not lie in moving away from core Republican values and issues, and toward those of Democrats. Moving toward the "middle" might pick up a few votes, but those gains are more than offset by the loss of enthusiastic support from the Republican base and natural allies. We in the rights community desperately want a different President, but we don't want it bad enough to get excited about a wishy-washy, unprincipled compromiser. If that's what you offer us, Republicans, you can expect wishy-washy support from the rights community. But if you'll do your part, we’ll do ours.

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