In a Wall Street Journal Op-ed, Rush Limbaugh proposed the idea that electing Arnold Schwarzenegger will set back the Conservative movement. He believes that we must vote for a strong Conservative, who sticks by his core beliefs, in order to advance Conservativism. He cites the 1976 and 1980 Presidential Elections to show how a strong Conservative is needed to turn a faltering country, or state, around. I think that Rush is trying to throw the election into Cruz Bustamante’s lap, so he, along with other conservatives, can point to California as an example of Liberalism run amok. If he is not, then he is extremely naïve.
Rush has been the iconic conservative talk show host for years, but he is out of touch with California. He says that it is sad that Conservatives in California say that we must elect a liberal Republican in order to advance Conservativism in California. Rush is forgetting a couple of key points. One, this is not a normal election cycle. Two, Ronald Reagan, or anyone similar, is not running for Governor. Many nationally syndicated talk show hosts, all more familiar with California, are supporting Arnold. Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager, both from LA, and Michael Medved, from Seattle but intimately familiar with California, all support Arnold with differing levels of enthusiasm.
As I mentioned, this is not a normal election. In a normal election cycle there is a primary and a general election. In the primary the party chooses who they think is the best candidate. In the general election, the party rallies around the winner of the primary, even though he may not be the first choice for many individuals in the party. In this election there is no primary, it is winner take all. There are one Democrat, Cruz Bustamante, and four Republicans: Arnold, Simon, McClintock, and Uberroth. In a normal primary conservative would prefer Simon or McClintock but would unite around Arnold in the general if he won the primary. They would see Arnold as a better choice than Bustamante. Every vote, in this election, for Simon, McClintock, or Uberroth takes a vote from Arnold and helps Bustamante.
Rush believes that many of the problems California is facing are similar to the problems the US was facing in 1980. The difference, which obviously escapes Rush and many other Conservatives, is that Ronal Reagan is not running. McClintock, who probably knows more about the budget than anyone, would be the obvious choice but nobody knows him and he does not have the needed money or charisma to win. Simon is a good solid conservative, but he does not have the political shrewdness to win. He does not even try to convince us that he is like Reagan; his website says that he is a Nixon-like conservative. He does have the I told you so thing going for him, but if he did not run probably the worst campaign in the history of campaigns he would already be Governor. Simon, who obviously learned a thing or two from Davis, is abandoning his principled campaign from last year and is running misleading attack ads on Arnold. Uberroth is a day late and a dollar short; if he wanted to be Governor he should have run in 1986. He is an unknown to too many people outside of LA for this short election. It is quite certain that Simon, McClintock, or Uberroth will not be able to get more votes than Bustamante will, so now our only real choice is between Arnold and Bustamante.
Rush is trying to paint Arnold as a liberal. He is a liberal on social issues, but fiscal conservative. Simon is running ads that claim that Arnold wants to raise our property taxes. Despite Arnold’s Chief Economic Advisor, Warren Buffet, suggesting that our property taxes may be to low Arnold has stated that he will not raise taxes. Bustamante is running on tax hikes and fee increases. Arnold wants to attract new businesses and recently fled businesses back to California. Arnold is the candidate most similar to Reagan. When Reagan first ran for Governor, he ran on a campaign of fiscal conservativism. He was very charismatic and not much was known about his social views, which were decidedly more liberal than when he ran for president. This sound like Arnold, much is said of his social liberalism, but relatively few specifics are known. Even if Arnold is a true social liberal, how bad can it be? Abortion, the standard by which most are judged, is not a state issue. As long as Roe V. Wade is the law of the land, a Governor can do no good or bad on abortion. True, he may appoint pro-abortion judges but so will Bustamante. As long as a Conservative is in the White House those judges will not reach the Supreme Court and a Liberal would not be inclined to appoint a Republican appointee, no matter his views. What about new social programs? Arnold has said that kids will come first, but he has also stated that he is a fiscal conservative. Any new programs will be paid for by cutting elsewhere or by growing revenue. How about illegal immigration, the hot button issue in California? He openly admits to voting for Prop. 187 and Pete Wilson, probably the staunchest opponent of illegal immigration, is one of his top advisors.
Sure, it would be best for California if we elected a strong Reagan-like Conservative and it would be a great learning experience for the country to watch a Democratically dominated California go down in smoke because of its ultra-liberalism. However, a strong Reagan-like Conservative is not running, the other conservatives cannot win, and we cannot morally stand by while California dies. If a truck (Liberalism) hit your child (California), you would do whatever you could to help. It would be a great learning experience for the rest of the children to see what the result of playing in traffic is, but you would not let your child die just to prove a point. You would want a highly trained doctor (McClintock) or an EMT (Simon) to help. If they were unavailable, you would want a Boy Scout (Uberroth) to help. If he was unavailable, and your choice was between the All-American high school jock with good intentions but no training in first aid (Arnold) helping you or the malevolent incompetent driver (Bustamante) repeatedly backing over your child until he is beyond help, you would choose the jock. California is too valuable, and in too precarious of a situation to wait for the ideal candidate while an acceptable one is waiting or to play politics just so we can show what happens when Liberalism runs amok.