The PJ Tatler

A Competitive Primary is Indeed Better for Conservatism

J. E. Dyer at Hot Air this morning frames the GOP as divided between the Romney, OK-with-Status-Quo wing and the “Not OK wing” and makes some strong points which I’ll second:

Who is right?  While I am with the “Not OK” wing philosophically, I don’t think it would be the end of America as we know it if Mitt Romney were elected.  But I do believe it would be a grave strategic error for the Republican Party to endorse him early, and silence intra-party dissent as if he represents what America really needs.  A Romney presidency would be no more than a hiatus in deliberately using the state as a steamroller for ideological purposes.  That would be better than 4 more years of Obama, but from the perspective of getting America on a different path, it’s not good enough.

The GOP needs this fight over philosophy of government.  What has to be established in the 2012 primary season is that the small-government vote matters.  If that is not established, the GOP itself will matter little.  Its difference from the Democratic Party will not be sufficient to attract (or keep) membership.

I believe Palin has a strategic view of America’s future that looks beyond the 2012 election itself.  The most important thing now is that the small-government perspective continue to have a chance to express itself on its terms.  If it is silenced in electoral politics, there will be no hope of changing America’s path.  And the only way for it to have a voice is for this primary season to continue on a competitive basis.  That is the mechanism through which the voice of either wing of the party matters to the industry of politics.  That’s where the noise has to be made.

The best thing for the message of limited government is for the primary to continue but there are other advantages to a longer season.

People point to Romney’s wobbly, shiftable positions as though such a temperament is always a bad thing to have in politicians. It isn’t when we as citizens regain confidence in our ability to influence our elected officials better than others. There’s a big difference between now and the Bush years when it comes to the subject of holding Republican politicians: the Tea Party is too big to be ignored now. A continued primary season is a further opportunity to force Romney to understand who he’s going to need to keep happy should he become president.

So I must respectfully disagree with Ron Radosh yesterday here at PJM:

The race, in other words, will be very, very close. A Gingrich nomination would mean the inevitability of an Obama victory in the general race for the presidency. Now, as many pundits have noted, it is possible for both Romney and Gingrich to get to the end of the process with almost an equal amount of delegates, leading then to a brokered convention, and perhaps the entry into the race at the last moment of an as-yet-unannounced candidate.

To avoid this outcome, which could in fact also help Obama in the campaign since he would be facing a fractured and despairing Republican Party, it is important to now unite behind Mitt Romney and prevent further harmful bloodletting. It is also equally important that Romney do some studying and stop himself from further harmful and shortsighted gaffes, in which he has to continually come out and explain to the public what he really meant to say.

Romney has not yet proven himself. He needs to go through the experience of a rough primary so that he can make these kinds of mistakes now when they’re less expensive. Because come on, if Romney can’t handle a month of competition with Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum how could he ever be expected to handle a general election campaign against George Soros’ billion-dollar network of internet libelists, union thugs, and community organizing shake down artists?