I don't know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing the collective groan by the supposed conservatives of the Republican party about John McCain's frontrunner status. They want to know how something like this could happen. It is interesting that a man who has backstabbed his own party so many times is now in the lead to represent that party nationally. So what happened? Like most things the answer has many different components to it. I can't point to one thing and say, "This is what brought the Republican party to this point." With that being said let me offer a few of observations about what has happened to the GOP.
The first observation is George W. Bush destroyed conservatism in the Republican party. Tell me what did George Bush do during his eight years that was in line with conservative ideals? Yes, he cut taxes. He also got us into a unnecessary war and dramatically increased the size of government. How would McCain be more liberal or unconservative than President Bush already is?
This leads into a second observation: we don't know what conservatism is. Conservatism is about the role of government in our lives. Part of the problem is that the term conservative has been hijacked by people who believe that it is the government's role to promote their ethic. Religious Right I am looking at you. What followed was that conservatism started to be equated with the agenda of the Religious Right, and now they are upset because McCain hasn't courted their favor as other candidates have. That is one of the reasons why George Bush is a hero in their eyes while McCain is a villain. The basics of conservatism are following the rule of law (in our case the Constitution), limited government (including low taxes), a sound financial system, a strong defense, and the protection of personal liberty. Out of all the candidates for president, on both sides of the aisle, which one has even talked about one of these things (let alone all of them)? The answer is Ron Paul (the only true conservative left in the race), but I forget that he is a kook and unelectable. When you settle for something less than true conservatism don't be surprised when "hard liberals" emerge at the surface.
A third observation is that talk radio, and Rush Limbaugh I am primarily talking about you because you set the standard for everyone else to follow, has become anti-liberal rather than pro-conservative. Every time I turned on Rush through December and January he was talking about the Clintons (Clinton, Inc.). He wasn't talking about why conservative ideas were superior just trashing the Clintons. Now he is making it known why McCain is a liberal, not why conservative ideas are good for the nation. After listening to Rush I can't help but conclude that he has forgotten what true conservatism is (which is sad because Rush used to be a great voice of conservatism and I learned about it at his feet). Rush is the best at what he does and I still enjoy listening to him (unlike Hannity who I can't stomach). Rush get back to talking about conservative ideas. You have always said that ideas win elections. So why did you stop talking about conservative ideas in order to become anti-Clinton Inc.?
True conservatism is dead in this country. We have very few candidates who run on a truly conservative agenda and those who do are labeled unelectable. I want to say to all those so-called conservatives complaining about McCain that this is what happens when you choose to win elections rather than standing up for what is right.