So what does this mean for conservatives? Firstly, it means that it is now time for conservatives to recognize that McCain is the nominee of the Republican Party and for better or worse, we need to make an accommodation with him. There are definitely areas where McCain needs to explain himself to conservatives, but it is also incumbent upon conservatives to make and effort to work with McCain as well. I cannot imagine a worse scenario than conservatives sitting out the election and handing the Presidency to Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Neither of these two represents conservatives at all, and while we have some legitimate issues with some of McCain's policy decisions, neither Clinton nor Obama has ever made an effort to work with conservatives and would certainly not advance conservative principles.
Secondly, it is time for conservatives to abandon any residual anger at McCain and recognize that despite his highly-publicized departures from conservatism, he does vote with conservative ideals most of the time. And while McCain may not be an ideal candidate, the Republican Party is not made up only of conservatives, and as Captain Ed Morrissey pointed out, even within the 'conservative' group there are some important differences. Captain Ed writes,
Despite the size of CPAC, the conservative wing of the Republican Party is one of several factions within a big tent. Within that movement exists sub-factions as well. In order to have influence over public policy, any movement has to align itself with other compatible factions to form a governing coalition. That means sharing decisions and sometimes subordinating some issues in order to hold the coalition together, including leadership decisions.
If we are to be adult and responsible members of the Republican coalition, as we should be, then it behooves us to accept McCain as our nominee and do everything we can to help him win in 2008.
However, it is also time for McCain to recognize that in order to win in 2008, he needs to reach out to conservatives who are not very pleased with some of his deviations. I believe I can understand his thinking on McCain-Feingold, though I deplore the methodology and the resultant attack on political speech. However, the McCain-Kennedy amnesty bill needs to be explained, and McCain needs to assure us that he understands the anger and will not do that again as President.
I would hope that McCain also understands that he should end his faux populism- that kind of thing may work for Barack Obama, who after all has no experience, but it won't work for Republicans and conservatives in particular. And Captain Ed recommends that McCain promise to elect strict constructionists to the bench- that is one area where all conservatives can agree progress is needed. If he can do that, I agree with captin Ed that much of the conservative ire will be defused.
Ultimately however, McCain has won the Republican nomination. Conservatives are still much more at home in the Republican Party than they are in a Democratic Party that promotes defeatism, anti-Americanism, and government nanny-ism. Prior to Super Tuesday I wrote that I would prefer Romney, but I could happily support McCain. that is still true,. And with McCain's victory and Romney's withdrawal, it is time for conservatives to cease the harsh words and concentrate on supporting the nominee who, despite his flaw, is a far better choice for America than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.