For once, I hope Erick Erickson is right and I fear if he is wrong. Erick believes that Romney will kill "conservatism." I place conservatism in quotes because the term is up for grabs, as I will explain.
But there is something else too — Mitt Romney is winning the nomination without conservative help. The only time he pays conservatives any attention is when they cry loud enough that the media takes notice and Romney decides the story needs to go away. Once he is the nominee, it will be all about wooing the independents.So what is Erick Erickson's conservatism that he believes Romney will destroy?
Hell, he can give the base Marco Rubio as the veep nominee, just like McCain did with Palin — a token for the base. But don’t delude yourself into thinking he will seriously take conservatives seriously. He got the nomination without them and he’ll only use them when it is opportunistically convenient for him.
Conservatism itself will not really die. But it might as well be dead as even conservatives in the heartland of the country stop taking Washington conservatives seriously.
First of all, it's more cultural than cerebral. Erick is focused on appealing to "conservatives in the heartland" rather than "Washington conservatives." City folks may not apply. Especially city folks who go to ivy league schools and who don't say "ya'll." We can all remember Palin's dichotomy of the United States into real Americans and everyone else. Erick has been all on aboard with Palin's populism even if he dropped the Alaskan for a newer model.
Second, Erick's not so merry band of followers are much more concerned about the emotions of fighting the enemy of liberalism than with recommending a better, conservative form of government. How else can you explain Chris Christie? I would have loved to have seen Christie run for President if for nothing more than to see the Tea Party sour on him. They will find, like every Northeastern Republican, that Christie is not one of them. At present, they only see Christie's war against the teacher's union (a worthy fight), not the entire picture. And this is perhaps why good Republicans don't run. Christie knew that everyone would get to see how he doesn't fear Muslims, how he cares about the environment, and how he doesn't think shutting down the government is good for the economy. RINO.
Third, when Erickson type conservatives do venture out into the public policy world they quickly reveal to everyone except for themselves that they are pilgrims in a foreign land. That's why Erickson thinks that Cain's 9-9-9 plan and Perry's flat tax plan are good ideas. They are not. They are math defying. They would blow large holes in the deficit, the very thing that Erickson and company claimed to be against. But yet Erick charges forward with these ridiculous ideas because it feels so good. And Perry and Cain gladly lay out these plans, not because they harbor any dreams of those ideas ever becoming law, but because they want to win a primary that consists largely of Erick Erickson conservatives. It's a vicious cycle and it's hard to sort out the chicken and the egg.
And not only are Erickson conservatives bad at policy, they are bad at politics. They really think that the way to beat the opposition in a year when people are protesting against Wall Street is to demand that the poorest of Americans start paying income taxes and that the richest receive a gigantic tax cut. If (or when) President Obama wages class warfare against Romney, it will be a blatant political move and a lie. If President Obama wages class warfare against Cain or Perry, it will be an accurate assessment of their politics. It will be literally true. Rick Perry literally wants to dramatically cut taxes for the rich and dramatically raise taxes on the poor. And the most amazing thing about this is that Erickson cites Romney's wealth as a reason why he will lose against Obama's class warfare.
The great news is that Erick Erickson does not get to define conservatism all by himself and that is why he is so fearful of a Romney presidency. Romney seems to be interested in governing. He seems to be interested in data and empirical analysis. Romney may very well throw the Tea Party under the bus in order to get the economy going again, because getting America back to work is more important than obeying a bunch of know-nothing radio clowns. With Romney, we may get a return to William Buckley conservatism.
He may very well kill Erickson's conservatism. I hope he does.
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