Paul Gigot remarks that conservatives have been divided by loyalties to different conservative-leaning candidates in the (seemingly interminable) lead-up to the Republican primary race, thus leaving the field to Romney. True, but divisions among conservatives actually go much deeper than that. These deep divisions are the reason that relatively moderate Romney is emerging as the only real contender, albeit painfully slowly and with only grudging consent from voters, if poll numbers are to be believed. On a number of issues, conservatives are simply divided. Some have surrendered on the culture wars, while cultural issues remain important to others. Conservatives are divided over immigration, legal and illegal, and even over amnesty. They are divided on the size and scope of government. They are divided on foreign policy and the extent to which America should involve itself in building democracy in Islamic countries. They are even divided on the nature of America itself, whether it is purely a creedal nation or is built on a culture that is the necessary basis for realization of the creed. It’s not even clear what is meant by American exceptionalism.
There may be conservative consensus on the deleterious effects of multiculturalism, group rights, affirmative action, reverse discrimination, racial preferences, and the like, of interest to us at Phi Beta Cons, but these issues have no political expression on the national level. It is no accident that the Republican field has shaped up as it has, with a number of good people who are/were nevertheless not fully formed as conservatives or not quite ready for the big job, or both, and with no clear leader, because conservatism is a fuzzy bundle of ambiguities at this point. In fact, conservatives are kind of lucky that someone as good as Romney, with his stance on a number of issues — especially the country-killing issue of amnesty, as Ann Coulter details – will emerge as the nominee, instead of another John McCain.