If you have not been a supporter of Mitt Romney’s since the start of the GOP primary campaign, you may be one of those stubborn conservatives, those obstinate Tea Partiers, or those recalcitrant Constitutionalists who are yet refusing to commit to Gov. Romney at this midpoint of the nomination race. Perhaps you are tired of hearing words like “coalesce,” “electable,” “inevitable,” and “presumptive,” and phrases like, “It’s time to get behind Mitt,” or “We really have to decide so we can ‘focus on’ Obama.”
It could be that your state's primary won't be happening for two months from now. Maybe you’re not ready to abandon your non-Romney candidate. And, maybe, that’s really not so bad.
Some of the exit polls conducted by the Fox News team during the Maryland and Wisconsin primaries were touting high percentages of people voting for Mitt Romney because of his recent endorsements by people like Congressman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida), and Sen. Ron Johnson (Wisconsin). Admittedly, some of these recent endorsements have been lukewarm, at best. Sen. Rubio's "endorsement" of Gov. Romney did not even urge the other "non-Romneys" to get out of the race.
Though many conservative Republicans admire the congressional leaders who have jumped on the Romney bandwagon of late, it seems there are others, perhaps the more independent among them, who are still thinking for themselves and not relying solely on the opinions of others. Maybe that’s not bad either.
There are more independent conservatives, like Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was calling it like it is when he said he thinks Mr. Romney became the front-runner “more by default, as everyone else has been defeated one at a time.” And former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has urged the Republican nomination race to go to the convention, if possible.
But, it sure seems like the pressure is on. It’s hard not to notice how “party” Republicans are starting to sound more and more like liberal Democrats in their use of guilt to get conservatives to “coalesce” around Mitt. Statements like, “All this fighting is hurting the party,” “You don’t want Obama to win again, do you?” and “A brokered convention? Are you serious?” are especially annoying to non-Romney supporters.
Independent conservatives ask, “Why is thoroughly vetting a candidate and supporting him ‘hurting’ the party?” They reply, “Of course I don’t want Obama to win again. Isn’t that why I’m supporting my non-Romney candidate?” And they dare to respond, “I’d like to see what happens at a brokered convention. It could be fun and different, and maybe it will just be the candidates talking about ideas. What’s wrong with that?”
After all, those Republican “party” people should consider that, maybe, if Gov. Romney doesn’t get the full delegate count he needs to win the nomination prior to the convention, that situation will make it all the more difficult for the Obama team to focus on just one GOP candidate. A "surprise" nomination process could be good for the Republican party.
Sarah Palin is a good model for independent-minded, going rogue type of conservatives who are not willing to wholeheartedly embrace Mitt Romney. Gov. Palin knows that the former Massachusetts governor is the “establishment” candidate, and she will support him if he is, in fact, the nominee. After all, it’s Anyone but Obama.
But, Gov. Palin, and likely Attorney General Cuccinelli, probably won’t like having to support Mitt “Anyone” Romney. Gov. Palin will likely continue to remind "establishment" Republicans that she doesn’t care for having a “party” candidate thrust down the throats of conservatives who have hungered not just for a president who knows how to be a CEO, but, a leader who inspires us, and the rest of the world, with his command of the United States Constitution and its message of freedom and liberty as the very fabric of our nation’s being.
It’s nothing personal about Mitt Romney. If, in fact, he is the Republican nominee, and the newly elected president, he may be a fine leader. He certainly doesn’t seem like an “Anyone” who would purposely destroy the country--not like Barack Obama. But, that’s not really saying much. He just hasn’t been an inspiring candidate, a reality that may exist because his campaign has been primarily about beating down his fellow GOP-ers with a barrage of negative advertising. His campaign has not been about inspiration. Though negative advertising clearly works on unthinking Americans--the same kind of Americans, by the way, that the Democrats count on--if there is no balance of clear, crisp conservative ideas inspired by the Constitution on the other end…well, there’s not much to get excited about if you are an independent-minded conservative.
Then there is this gnawing feeling that many Tea Party conservatives have that says, “Hey, you Republican “party,” you are in power in the House of Representatives because of us. You would never have achieved that on your own.” That feeling is a bit like betrayal, but it’s a “knowing” kind of betrayal, not a “naïve” kind of betrayal. Tea Party conservatives knew all along that they were fighting the elite establishment of both parties. And, here it is, right in their faces. They win the House for the Republican party, and the party kicks them back with a Mitt Romney, endorsed by last election cycle’s “party” candidate, John McCain. The same John McCain who did NOT beat Barack Obama and who is telling Rick Santorum to leave the race.
Republican candidate Newt Gingrich, whose “Main Street” campaign has been funded, to a large extent, by donors giving $200 or less, has substantially trimmed down his staff and travel schedule, in order to focus on the reality of the current Mitt “Anyone But Obama” Romney situation. According to Byron York of the Washington Examiner, the former speaker will not exit the race, but will be intent on personally contacting GOP delegates in order to urge them to adopt a series of platform proposals that will hold Mr. Romney to conservative policy positions. Some of those positions include an American Energy Independence program that would utilize the revenues from new oil-and-gas exploration licensing to pay down the national debt. Mr. Gingrich will also press Mr. Romney to commit to Social Security reforms that include personal accounts, as well as a plan to secure religious liberty. Regarding his plan Mr. Gingrich said, "You may ultimately lose the battle of candidacy, but that doesn't mean you lose the battle of ideas."
Tea Party conservatives are clearly not losing the battle of ideas. In fact, these independent conservatives are working to elect more like-minded individuals to the U.S. House and Senate, as well as to state houses and local boards of selectmen and school systems. If they are successful in winning the Senate back for the Republicans, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is the Senate Majority leader, don’t think for a second he won’t have his hands full trying to get those conservatives on board with the traditional “party” platform. Just ask Speaker John Boehner.
The restlessness and resistance among some conservatives means the near future still holds some uncertainty. Maybe it is more of a “process” than anticipated and hoped. But the philosophies of people like Sarah Palin, Ken Cuccinelli, and Newt Gingrich might be a guiding light to those who are independent-minded conservatives, who don’t need the “party” to keep their ideas in the minds of Americans. Looking to these leaders, conservatives may find a model for how to cope with the remainder of the primary season. And, just maybe, the real inspiration is still ahead of us.