THE RIGHT WORD
By Kelly Sloan
It is probably safe to say that the concept of the “election year” is passé; it is barely June 2011, and at every level the 2012 elections are, to one extent or another, underway.
The President has already launched his re-election campaign, and most of the Republicans vying to replace him have announced their intentions, or soon will; Sal Pace has announced he will run against Scott Tipton in the 3rd CD, while Steny Hoyer announced the same for Brandon Schaffer in the 4th, making Shaffer the only person in the state who thinks his Congressional plans, (and all the redistricting work done in support of them) are a big secret.
On the local level, Republican Rose Pugliese has filed to run for the Mesa County Commissioner seat being vacated by Janet Rowland, while Independent Jana Gerow and Republican Christi Flynn have done the same for Craig Meis’s seat.
Most of the attention, of course, is focused on the Presidential race, and most of that is on who will be the one to try and end the Obama reign.
There is a prevailing sense among Republicans that the current field of Presidential contenders being offered up to supplant the Obama White House is, well, wanting. But how much of the nervous angst is really justified?
Empirically speaking, it is actually a rather impressive slate; strong backgrounds, good experience, records of winning elections in erstwhile blue states as conservatives; so what is the problem?
Rank and file conservatives are paying pretty close attention this time around, examining the proffered candidates, dissecting policy positions, and poring over records. This is a welcome development – too many times in recent history, conservatives have simply bowed obligingly to a candidate more in the tradition of an Eisenhower or a Rockefeller, than rally to select a Goldwater or a Reagan. But we encounter difficulties when we apply too fine a gauge to our evaluation, mistaking dogma for principle.
The result is that, should any violation or divergence from the True Path, going back to 7th grade class president, be detected in an otherwise fine candidate, apostasy is declared, the term “RINO” branded like a scarlet letter, and the target deemed forever unfit to hold the banner of conservatism. This, unfortunately, does nothing to further the conservative cause.
I mean, good grief, we conservatives cannot agree among ourselves on many of the details, and yet we expect to find a candidate who meets all the various standards of ideological purity.
Rather than attempt to apply an individual ideological template to each candidate, we ought to determine a little more generally what qualities the next President should and should not possess, and use that as our measure.
For instance, the next President should possess a firm, realistic, and principled sense of international affairs, and not be too naïve when confronted with regimes or situations which hold the potential for great harm. The next President needs to be willing and able to quite profoundly call “foul”, when, for instance, Iran claims peaceful intentions for a concealed nuclear upgrader, or when Red China pleads innocence following its conduct of threating war-games off the coast of Taiwan.
The next President should not crave the approval of the global community at the expense of his country, and should instead embrace his or her role as chief defender, champion, and advocate for America. His or her approach to the U.N. should be quite ostentatiously patronizing, maintaining enough involvement to keep it in check, and to use it when it can benefit America, but always ready to rebuke, cajole, or ignore the flawed institution, particularly when some 3rd world tinpot dictator takes time off from overseeing his nation-prison’s torture chambers to lecture the U.S. on human rights.
The next President should keep a sense of perspective about himself, and his role. He or she needs to recognize, as someone once observed, that America is a great deal more than the Presidency. The next President needs to cultivate a humble appreciation for the position of responsibility and stewardship to which he or she is entrusted, rather than hold too high an opinion of himself.
Finally, the next President should recognize his or her role is not to be involved in every facet of American society, or to attempt to remake America from the ground up. The President is there to lead by displaying a faith and trust in America, her foundations, Constitution and people.
This is the measure by which our candidates ought to be judged.
Kelly Sloan is the Western Slope Director for Americans For Prosperity Colorado. His column, The Right Word, is printed bi-weekly in the Grand Junction Free Press. This article first appeared in the Grand Junction Free Press on June 3, 2011. Reprinted with permission.