It seems strange at first, but it’s true. Now that Fred Thompson has left the race, most conservatives are now cheering for Barack Obama – but not for why you think.
Let’s look back to understand this twist. Conservatives got genuinely excited twice in this campaign season. The first time was back last summer, when Thompson spoke out a conservative message eloquently and with new media. This was a breath of fresh air that the Republican party needed. A true small government conservative that could explain conservatism in a way that made sense average Americans. AND he was able to tap into the new media – something Democrats have been doing much better than Republicans.
Conservatives waited with bated breath for their candidate. But after perhaps too much delay, Thompson entered the race with a whimper instead of a sizzle. Fred finally seemed to find his footing a few days before the South Carolina primary, coming out swinging in a debate a several speeches. Again conservatives got excited, but again it ended up being too little too late.
So now they wait and cheer for Obama to come and rescue them. Why? Because a race against Obama would require conservatism to win. A race against Hillary would require something completely different: Running against the Clintons, most of your time is spent fighting and trying to say ahead of the Clinton Machine. (Just look at the Hillary Obama race for proof of this). And a Republican candidate would try to win by focusing on Hillary’s negatives (which are quite high).
Running against Obama you can’t simply get people to vote against him – he’s too likeable. And running liberalism lite against liberalism is a fools errand. Even if you capture the middle, you will lose your base and therefore the election. If Hillary gets the nomination it will be a fight between political machinery. If Obama wins it can be a fight of policies and ideas. And conservatism wins in the arena of ideas – when it actually gets a chance to be considered. So for the third time conservatives wait – and hope for a chance let conservative ideas be on the table.