No longer riding for the brand

Posted: Friday, January 09, 2009

"The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded."

- Charles-Louis De Secondat, baron de Montesquieu

In the days of the Old West, cowboys had a special affinity for the ranchers who employed them. The six-gun was a big part of his gear, to be used on rattlers, rustlers and anyone who came onto his boss' land looking for trouble. This part of the cowboy "code" was known as "riding for the brand." Right or wrong, he'd fight for the outfit that employed him.

Many Alaska conservatives are convinced of the Republican Party's loyalty to its rank and file. I'd like to believe it, but, as John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things." If established fact goes against my perception of anything, then that perception must give ground. To stubbornly cling to an illusion is to engage in willing self-deception.

While many Alaskans voted Republican in the latest grand political travesty (known to the uninformed as "the presidential election"), it turns out that, ultimately, their vote meant nothing. Having canvassed the ranks of friends and acquaintances just prior to the Nov. 4 debacle, I found that those casting votes for John McCain said they did so, not because he would be good for the country, but because (grimacing, holding the nose) he was "the lesser of two evils."

Hardly. If anything, McCain would have been the perfect stealth president. He would have been confident of, albeit grudging, support from conservatives nationwide. But a look at the man's credentials betray a liberal bias that has always held McCain in good stead when "working across the aisle." As an aside, I always thought that's why the aisle is there in the first place.

Republicans and Democrats are supposed to have irreconcilable differences. But McCain has held hands with the biggest liberal icons, to produce some of the most egregious legislation to be spewed from the halls of Congress. Think McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, which squelches freedom of speech in the name of "fairness." Or the McCain-Teddy Kennedy Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which would have made de facto citizens of 13 million to 30 million illegal aliens.

This list of betrayals to conservative ideals goes on and on. Look, a guy who consistently works on intimate terms with the most overtly liberal politicians is himself a liberal. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck ... you know the routine. After Obama took the Big Seat, McCain had only praise for him, crowing loudly about his willingness to work with his new friend. Yeah, right.

The further eroding of the founding principles of our republic favors only those who work to support said erosion. And McCain is a marathoner in the race to do so. Let's face it - and I've heard this from lots of fed up Republicans in the last month - if McCain is the best the GOP can come up with, the party itself is dead. It has lost what little relevance remained. There is virtually no difference in ideology anymore between politicians who wear the "R" tag, or those who sport the "D." As Pat Buchanan (gasp - not him!) correctly observes, both parties have become two wings of the same bird of prey.

Alaska conservatives need to get real. We've been betrayed, big time.

You want to know who really won the election? It was those multiplied millions of disenfranchised conservatives, mostly erstwhile Republicans, who refused, on principle, to vote for McCain. Whether they submitted a write-in for Ron Paul or just stayed home in protest, they turned the tide of the election. For the first time in nearly a decade, they made their voices heard. To them, the choice of a "lesser of two evils" was a violation of conscience. They refused to ride for the brand, and the Republican Party has lost them forever.

And by the way. All those extra-presidential powers we conservatives so unwisely bestowed on President Bush - such as warrantless surveillance of millions of Americans, the trashing of the First, Fourth and most other amendments? They've now passed to Obama.

We need to chew on that for awhile.

• Kevin Reeves is a Haines resident.

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