It doesn't have to be this way. I wish it wasn't. But it is. The GOP elite are to blame for the continued exclusion of the truly conservative members of the Republican party. The bad attitudes and rudeness are not just being sported by the low level GOP cheerleaders. No, some of the entrenched "leadership" is outright condescending toward both the new blood in the party AND the Old Right's old guard. Yes, the "Old Right" is still being systematically kicked aside even though the moneyed New Right got their man McCain's name on the yard signs for November.
I'm not here to name names and demonize a few, although that would be best for this blog's ratings. I don't think that tactic will result in the unity that is so needed. So I'm not going to tell you which foot soldiers did what. Top of the ticket is fair game in my book though so here's the scoop.
Barry Goldwater, Jr., son of Mr. Conservative--the founder of the modern conservative movement--called McCain's office to get credentials for the convention. The former Congressman and his family are in town and wanted to be involved in the RNC Convention, if only as observers. McCain said no to the initial request for passes. Why? Because Goldwater is one of those dreadful "Ron Paul supporters"--the equivalent of a town leper. Allegedly McCain dangled the endorsement carrot in exchange for passes. Goldwater, a man with an iron spine, refused to give his endorsement. Then the bargaining turned to money--a ridiculous amount for each pass. The Goldwaters just laughed and refused to pay. Eventually they won out and got a few begrudged complimentary passes.
Any way you slice it, McCain's sudden rise from the primary ashes is fishy, at best. When I met him in October, he was petty and cranky. His campaign was floundering financially and he was at the bottom of the pack. Fiscal conservatives annoyed him; that much was obvious. But then he caught a break, a big break. Donald Bren of the Irvine Company joined many other top donors and helped to spearhead a massive fundraising drive. They issued letters to all clients instructing them to "max out for McCain" and, presumably, the ones who did continued to get contracts in California and around the world. Suddenly the brains behind McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" was 2008's "It Boy" for real estate moguls and their buddies. Super PACs are becoming kingmakers.
Inside the RNC, the atmosphere resembles a prison camp. If one looks past the Palin fever electrifying the majority of attendees and listens to the stories of the younger delegates, shocking tales abound. The McCain team has hundreds of private security people roving the inside of the arena. They wear red baseball caps and Secret Service-style radio earpieces. They listen in on media interviews and lecture those who don't produce Team McCain's soundbites on cue. They demand to see the contents of certain delegates' purses, confiscate material that is unrelated to the McCain campaign, and regulate restroom breaks. Their behavior reaches the pinnacle of absurdity. One groups of delegates took a photo with a giant blue flag that merely said "Liberty" and it was promptly confiscated by Team McCain, the delegates lectured and intimidated, and their personal belongings searched. Private security even refused a sitting Congressman access to the convention floor for fear he would lead a mutiny. (Ron Paul, of course.)
As far as I can tell, this struggle goes back to 1960s with Rockefeller vs. Goldwater. The Rockefeller faction is alive and well, having made a pact with the hordes of Southern Democrats they brought to the GOP in the Reagan era. Their agreement? Social issue leaders will always have a seat at the table as long as they maintain unwavering support for the big government, pro-war candidates. This is the military-industrial complex and uninformed citizenry Eisenhower warned us about. It is amusing to see how much Karl Rove and his cronies personally despise the Goldwaters, for instance. Bad blood goes back for decades. Now the GOP leaders are afraid a revolution might be brewing to take back the party, as we did in 1964. They are desperately trying to squash an uprising.
Moral of the story: there is still a war within the GOP and it will tear the party apart if it continues. With a moderate like McCain on the ticket, we cannot afford to have an entire party of robots in blind compliance. If we do not stand up and do what is right, what is truly in the interests of the Old School Conservative movement, what have we gained?
With Sarah Palin on the ticket, I may vote for a dishonest opportunist named McCain. But I'm not going to kiss his feet and sign off on everything he does. I hope Palin won't either. Kudos to the Goldwaters for remaining true to their principles. Shame on McCain and his devotees for continuing to wage the war within. It will be the death of the GOP if they continue.