South Carolinians can now have some peace and quiet for a few months. With the Republican presidential primary now history, they will feel more free to answer their phones without being bombarded with political garbage from not only candidates’ direct campaigns but also unassociated organizations acting on their own. (I at first wrote pabulum but then changed it to garbage. Pabulum contains something of nutritional value, and there was nothing of value in the robocalls that inundated South Carolina homes over the last couple of weeks.)
As I sat watching the returns Saturday night—watching only the race for second place because the media called Trump the winner about two seconds after the polls closed—I found several strains of thought racing through my mind. Here are a few of them, in no particular order.
The turnout was great, larger than any turnout for a primary in recent memory. My wife and I arrived at our precinct polling station about 10 minutes after the polls opened at 7:00 a.m., and the line was already snaking around through the lobby, onto the porch, down the steps, and into the parking lot. Although only one race—the Republican nomination for president—was on the ballot, it seemed to take people an inordinate amount of time to make their decision. We waited in line for half an hour before we–voters 49 and 50–got to the voting booth. At first, I thought that perhaps the larger-than-normal turnout was because South Carolinians were finally realizing the gravity of our national plight and determining to do their part to correct it. But then I thought of the fact that primaries in South Carolina are open; anyone of any party—or no party—can vote in either primary as long as he or she is a registered voter. Later reports from exit polling indicated that as much as 20 percent of the turnout was Democrats! I wonder how much of that cross-over vote went to Trump? We need a legislature that will enact a closed primary! (The legislature is now, and for several years has been, controlled by Republicans, but they continue to refuse to enact a closed primary. Unbelievable! You’d think they were Democrats.)
The blind, uninformed nature of the typical American voter never ceases to amaze me. Trump was clearly the winner, with more than one of every three votes going to him. People listened to his constant barrage of trash talk and vulgarisms—all blather, innuendo, and unsubstantiated suspicion-generating suggestions about his fellow Republicans but no real substance on issues—and still thought he’s a great candidate. They seem totally ignorant of the fact that this is the same guy who just months ago supported abortion, government health care, aggressive use of eminent domain for private benefit, and has consistently given money to support the most liberal of liberals, but somehow they think the leopard has changed its spots. (My personal opinion is that he’s a Democrat plant who is in the race just to dilute the vote, thereby ensuring the selection of yet another losing Republican nominee and a continuation of Obama’s despicable agenda in his Democrat successor.)
The power of endorsements by key political figures is still debatable. Rubio got late endorsements by Rep. Trey Gowdy, fiery member of the House committee investigating Hillary’s e-mails and the Benghazi fiasco; Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina’s first black Republican senator since Reconstruction; and Gov. Nikki Haley, who has popular support throughout the state. As much as I personally like those three officials, I’m not so sure that people voted for Rubio just because any one or even all of them endorsed him. On the other hand, maybe the power of their endorsements gave Rubio the handful of votes that put him above (barely) Cruz.
Rubio is young and articulate and delivers a positive, Reaganesque message. We need a field of candidates who will stop trashing each other and start exposing and reminding voters of the damage that the Obama administration and his liberal minions—both Democrats and RINOs—are doing to our country. Then they need to start laying out the arguments for free enterprise, limited government, and individual freedom. Trash and bash won’t cut it. Maybe Rubio is trying. He needs to work harder at it, and the other candidates need to follow that lead. Reprove and rebuke the destroyers of freedom and set forth a clear pathway back to freedom.
Cruz is young, not quite as articulate as Rubio, but, like a good lawyer, can make a solid case for the things I list as necessities in the preceding paragraph. He presents the most compelling, authentic Christian testimony, but he can also come across as abrasive. He needs to keep hitting the issues hard but try to be more positive and less caustic in doing so.
Bush is out—thankfully—so there’s no need to comment on him. If only Kasich would get the message and follow Bush’s lead! Both are establishment boys who are willing to settle for big government lite and unwilling to be sold out for minimal government and maximum individual freedom. It will be interesting to see where their followers—and RINOs like Lindsay Graham, who never met a liberal court nominee he didn’t vote for—put their support now.
Carson has such a low-key demeanor that one wonders if he’s just making an announcement that someone left their car lights on rather than running for the presidency. What he says is commendable, but he gives the impression—whether real or just my perception—that he lacks the “fire in the belly” (as another former candidate, the late Fred Thompson, called it) to be president. Unless he’s actually jockeying for a nomination as Surgeon General, he’s going to have to ramp up his fire if he expects to go anywhere in this race.
The choice and the stakes in this presidential race are clear—if only the Republican candidates would get beyond their bickering and infighting and start hitting Obama-style government with the alternative of freedom and limited government. The choice in this election is freedom or socialism. It doesn’t matter whether the Democrat nominee is Hillary or Bernie, they’re both socialists—Bernie’s just more open and honest about it than any candidate we’ve had since Eugene V. Debs. If the Republicans don’t nominate a true conservative—pro-American, pro-free enterprise, pro-life, anti-big government, strict constitutionalist—the party will lose the race yet again. If that happens, the party may very well be dead as a viable alternative to the Socialist Democrats. Their base of true conservatives may very well bolt.