MacRanger is ready to sit out 2008. If he thinks this is going to get me to address his concerns, he is sadly mistaken.
So, I am going to set him straight here.
I was supporting Mitt Romney for the nomination - at least up until earlier this week when both the election results and the conduct of one of his supporters combined to make sitting out the GOP primary my only real option. I do not view the apparent nomination of John McCain with dread, and much of this is due to how conservatives have acted over the past two and a half years.
I am pro-life, and think abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother faces imminent and unavoidable risk of death or grave bodily harm should the pregnancy continue. I generally support a flat-rate income tax. I'm in favor of a string national defense, and carrying the war on terror to victory. I think the federal government spends too much for too little return on social programs, and if they cannot show results (or improvement), then the funding needs to stop. I want something done about the future of Social Security and Medicare, which combine for about 15% of any given paycheck. I want the borders secure - and illegal immigration effectively controlled, but I recognize a big part of that is a guest worker program, and I do not think a 21st Century version of the Maginot line is the answer. I think judges should not make the law, nor should they lightly overturn decisions of the state legislature or Congress - this forms the crux of my support for various amendments to define marriage as one man and one woman. I also believe in live and let live.
I should fit in with conservatives. But recently, I cannot stand them. They have set litmus tests: To be a "true" conservative, you needed to toe certain lines on immigration and other social issues.
I don't. And for that, I've been called "traitor" based on the immigration debate, including just this past May by Paul J Cella of Redstate. That site has also at times hosted others who proclaimed those who disagreed on the Miers nomination party hacks who had "sold their souls" - all because they didn't join the neo-Borking.
As I said in my open letter to that site in October, I have better things to do than to politically empower those who view me as a "party hack" who has sold his soul and/or a traitor to this country. And those who do engage in such conduct, who decide to claim that those who disagree with them within the GOP have "sold out" or worse, should not be surprised when the recipients of such comments decline to support them in primary campaigns - or hold it against the candidates who the name-callers support (which may have cost Mitt Romney support in California).
This was even before the conduct of the latest primary. Between anecdotal evidence from Article6Blog.com, the admission of Huckabee's own research director (in an interview with Article6Blog), and a Vanderbilt University study make it very clear that a significant chunk of conservatives decided to disqualify arguably the best-qualified candidate for the nomination on the basis of his religion.
Of course, the denials of religious bigotry will come hard and fast. But they need to address the evidence. Which now leads me to ask a tough question: Can I trust the social conservatives - specifically the religious right - at this point in time?
Between their conduct on immigration and the treatment Mitt Romney got in the primary, the answer, at least in my mind, is a big NO. Trust, once gone, is going to be hard to restore.
The last straw in terms of the loss of trust is the fact that right now, if my three nephews were to ask, I would have to tell them that I do not think they can be President, despite what good they do in their lives. Furthermore, I would have to tell them that the reason is because of the church they belong to - one they have been raised in (and which several generations of my family have belonged to). One of these nephews has a father who is going to serve this country in the Global War on Terror (and there have been Mormons who have served our country in time of war since the Mormon Battalion was formed during the Mexican War, and which includes Medal of Honor winners like Bernard Fisher and Mervyn S. Bennion, as well as Lyman Swenson, commanding officer of USS Juneau during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal).
I cannot work to politically empower people who seem to hold my faith in contempt. And, after the way the 2008 Republican primaries have evolved, it seems that the social conservatives largely hold Mormons in contempt. The Vanderbilt study reported that half of evangelicals would vote for a more moderate candidate if the conservative was Mormon.
Anti-Mormon bigotry was not the only reason Romney failed to win the nomination. But it was one of the primary reasons (the other was that talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Rick Roberts, and even Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have manged to be bigger Bush-bashers than John McCain has ever been accused of being), and I think a lot of Bush loyalists who would otherwise have voted for him instead went with McCain.
How can conservatives regain my trust? They need to start by showing they can be team players. None of this stay home in 2008 nonsense. Otherwise, I will be more than willing to reciprocate for their lack of support. I don't like taking those measures, but it's what has to be done, I suppose - it seems to be the only thing they will understand.
Second, they need to make it clear that they understand that the Mormon-baiting used by Huckabee's supporters was wrong, and they need to make amends. This sort of thing is a two-way street, and if they want folks like me to back their preferred candidates, they need to be willing to do the same.
When Mark Levin and others are willing to tank an election, they are playing the worst form of "gun to the head" politics. To hold our troops hostage is despicable, and needs to stop. If anyone would deserve the label of "traitor", is it Levin and these others.
Third, accept the fact that people might be willing to disagree with you on principle and respect them for having principles, and guiding themselves by said principles. If you cannot prove pandering, don't make the charge.
That is how conservatives can start to regain my trust. It's up to them. But believe me, I will go independent after November 4 if I do not see progress on this. There is a price for things like failure and distrust - and I will impose it.