Sapping the Know-Nothings
To some degree, it’s often the case that the media hypes the youth vote — the excited kids who show up for the rally but not for the vote. Still, it seems likely that the unique factor in this election will be the “know-nothing vote,” by which I mean kids and other generally uninvolved, uninformed Americans who flock to the personality cult of Barack Obama. As Rhode Islanders are particularly well positioned to appreciate, that’s a very dangerous force.
I’m sympathetic to the strategy of allowing a Democrat candidate to hold the reins for a few years in order to heat the crucible in which a stronger, more conservative Republican Party can be formed, and were the presidency the sole question mark, I might sway that way. But there will be candidates further down the ticket whom we can’t afford to watch washed away. We mustn’t underestimate the extent or longevity of the damage that a too strongly Democrat government can do in just a few years.
So the question is: Which Republican candidate will drain the know-nothing force to a greater extent? My gut says McCain. One could argue that Huckabee will excite more conservatives, who might otherwise be demoralized and stay home, but I haven’t seen much evidence of a conservative rally behind him. On the other hand, McCain will surely keep national security central in the general election while, at the same time, reminding some moderates that the Democrat candidate (whether Obama or Clinton) is farther from center.
It’s not a very uplifting or optimistic reason for picking a candidate, but the times are what they are.