Watching the potential contenders for the Republican nomination in 2012, I've noticed something. Every time a conservative Republican comes to the forefront, the bulk of the party isn't that supportive, or are actively hostile towards him or her at the other extreme. Then, when a less conservative candidate leads the party (or in the case of Mitt Romney maintains his 21-23% of the vote), the party faithful circle the wagons to protect the candidate.
As a conservative, I find this trend disturbing. I have serious reservations about both Romney and Newt Gingrich, mainly because of their lack of conservatism. Sure, they talk a good game, but both of them have issues that should make any conservative Republican second-guess whether the candidates are truly being honest with us.
One of the biggest "offenders" in my opinion is Mitt Romney. In 2008, he was touted as one of the more conservative Republican contenders, yet a deeper review of his record showed his actions didn't match his rhetoric. Hello? Romneycare? Government takeover of health care? The blueprint for Obamacare? That's not a conservative in my book.
Gingrich isn't much better. Not only does he have the support of a Romneycare clone on his record, he has a left-leaning environmental agenda. Sitting with Nancy Pelosi may have been a mistake Gingrich has admitted making, but what has he done to distance himself intellectually from that stand?
Yet, to hear Republicans talk, we have to choose between Romney and Gingrich or else we'll get another four years of Obama. However, I would argue getting Obama Lite isn't a step in the right direction, either.
Think of it this way. If you're driving at a wall at 100 miles an hour and you slow down to 95 miles an hour, you're still not addressing the major problem: you are driving towards a brick wall at a high rate of speed. The 5 mile an hour difference isn't going to make you any less dead upon impact. Not even with airbags and seatbelts.
Once you get past the two current frontrunners, the same line seems to come up: "I like Bachmann/Santorum/Paul, but they can't win." In Ron Paul's case, they're right. But as far as Bachmann and Santorum are concerned, why can't they win? Are they polarizing? Absolutely. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. Leaders tend to be polarizing figures, while people who seek to please as many people as possible tend not to be good leaders. We're seeing that now with the current Administration and their attempts to be all things to all people and failing miserably.
So, why should we replace one failed leader with someone with the same traits as that failed leader?
I think the Republican leadership has let the Left into their heads and made it seem as though conservatism is a bad thing. It's not. Speaking personally, I want more conservative leadership, and that would certainly drive me to vote for the Republican candidate in 2012. But if you keep throwing John McCain 2.0 in my face as the "only choice to beat Obama," you will lose my vote. Say what you will about the Left, they are not afraid of what they are. Republicans, on the other hand, are and it's because the "leadership" has let the Left set the ground rules for political combat.
The GOP has a major problem within its midst right now, and it stands to ruin the party's 2012 Presidential chances, and other chances down the road.