Politico recently ran an op-ed by George Allen in which Allen refers to Kaine as “my opponent in the Virginia Senate race.” One of my fellow bloggers at Bearing Drift commented that this characterization might be premature since Allen has opponents for the Republican nomination. I respectfully disagree.
I have written that the reason that leftists win more elections and enact more of their policies than they should be able to do is that while conservatives are busy trying to win the argument, leftists are working to win elections.
This principle applies to the 2012 Senate race. Former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is running unopposed for the Democrat nomination. Kaine is a leftist whose greatest distinction is that, as Barack Obama’s hand-picked Chairman of the Democrat National Committee, he played a major role in imposing the ObamaCare scheme on a nation that vehemently opposed it. His radicalism is confirmed in his enthusiastic advocacy for every aspect of Barack Obama’s agenda. The Democrats have already unified behind Kaine’s candidacy, and as a former DNC Chairman with a record as a leftist movement leader, he will enjoy a national fundraising base that will provide him with all of the resources he needs to mount an aggressive campaign.
On the Republican side, there are several obscure candidates running against former Governor and U.S. Senator George Allen. These challengers are good people with impressive backgrounds (a lawyer, a businessman, a preacher, a tea party organizer). However, each of these candidates has adopted an attitude that they deserve to be taken seriously as candidates merely because they have announced their candidacies – despite the fact that none of these candidates has ever held elective office, and none of them has even tried to offer a rationale for their respective candidacies other than “I’m a conservative purist, and I’m not George Allen.”
Each of these challengers is wondering why they are not gaining traction or support. The answer is simple: None of them can defeat Tim Kaine – but George Allen can.
And fortunately, George Allen is a perfectly good conservative candidate who can be supported without sacrificing conservative principles.
Allen has described himself as a “Jeffersonian” conservative throughout his two decades of public service. He has lived up to that description, not only because he had the distinct honor of representing Thomas Jefferson’s district in both the Virginia House of Delegates and U.S. House of Representatives, but because he applied Jefferson’s principles of limited government when he served in the Jefferson-designed Governor’s Mansion as arguably the most accomplished governor of Virginia in the modern era.
As governor, Allen applied pro-business policies to attract hundreds of new businesses to Virginia, creating thousands of new jobs. He reformed government, abolished parole, and implemented criminal justice reforms that have made Virginia one of the safest states in the country ever since.
Previously, as a member of Congress, Allen introduced a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment that came within 4 votes of passing through the Congress. He continued his record of fiscal conservatism in the U.S. Senate, albeit with a couple of votes here and there that were disagreeable to conservatives – many of which he has since renounced (e.g., his prior support for ethanol subsidies).
Allen’s greatest weakness is not ideological; it is his famously strange and appallingly stupid use of the invective “macaca” to describe an Indian-American Democrat campaign operative who was stalking him at his campaign appearances in 2006. That incident cost him the election to Democrat Jim Webb, who is not seeking reelection. Allen has offered sincere apologies for the incident, and polls show that by overwhelming margins Virginia voters – including a majority of Democrats – do not consider the incident relevant to the current election.
So, is Allen the perfect conservative candidate? No, but his record over the entirety of his career is so consistently conservative that I, for one, can forgive him a few unfortunate votes as a senator that he has since renounced. His bigger liability is the “macaca” incident, but the challengers’ raison d’être is ideological and not rooted in opposition to that incident. A few aberrational votes are far less of a liability to the conservative movement than is the utter unelectability of every single one of the challengers for the Republican nomination.
So it boils down to this: With a perfectly electable Jeffersonian conservative with a distinguished two-decade record of public service in the race, what is the rationale for supporting any of the other indistinguishable candidates who have no records of public service and whose nomination would guarantee the election of yet another leftist Democrat?
There is none.
George Allen is the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2012, and barring any further “macaca” incidents, he deserves to be. (And in the unlikely event that Allen does have another such incident, the Republican establishment would almost certainly recruit a qualified and electable candidate before getting behind any of the current obscure and unelectable challengers.)
I have nothing personal against these challengers. Each and every one of them is a good person with a lot to offer their communities, state, and country, as well as the conservative movement. Some have already shown impressive leadership in doing so through grass-roots activism. But none of them deserve support for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate because none of them can defeat Tim Kaine, and George Allen can.
That’s why George Allen is ignoring his nominal challengers for the Republican nomination and focusing his energies and resources on defeating Tim Kaine. George Allen isn’t trying to win the I’m-more-conservative-than-you argument within the Republican Party. He’s trying to win the election.
So should we all.