…is, of course, a perfectly good reason to vote for John McCain. As to those on the right who are inclined to “sit this out,” they shouldn’t delude themselves. If McCain is defeated, the conventional wisdom will be that the American people have decisively turned away from conservatism. The reality will, of course, be something far more complex, but, in the aftermath of a Democratic sweep, that’s not the “narrative” that will be constructed, popularized and believed, and believed almost as much as on the right as the left. The consequences? Well, the historical circumstances differ considerably, but let’s remember that, after Goldwater’s defeat, it look 16 years before the idea that conservatism was a losing proposition was brought to an end. 16 years. Count ‘em.
If you accept that proposition, the following comments by Sidney Blumenthal (yes, yes, I know) merit careful consideration:
John McCain’s emergence is testimony to the shattering of Bush’s presidency. Without the fracturing of conservatism, McCain would never have become the Republican nominee. It is not an accident, as the Marxists might say, that McCain was Bush’s rival in 2000, a bitterly fought contest that resulted in wounds that are still fresh to McCain. Regardless of McCain’s need to consolidate and conciliate the Republican base–and despite some Democrats’ insistence that McCain is little more than a party line reactionary–he remains an utterly singular figure in the individualistic tradition of Goldwater but lacking Goldwater’s early (at least) extremism. Ironically, at the end of the current Republican era, McCain is the last important Republican whose career stretches back to the Reagan period–and even to the Nixon years as an icon of the Vietnam War. McCain represents continuity and a break with it. His reliance on neoconservatives for foreign policy advice is his most important connection to the Bush legacy.For McCain to win in the Electoral College, of course, he would have to reassemble the Republican coalition. But he might well have greater appeal and put into play states that dropped out of the G.O.P. alliance under George W. Bush, from New Jersey to California. If McCain did so the result would not be a restoration of Reaganism, but the basis of a post-Bush Republicanism.