(Nantucket, Aug. 16) The two topics dominating summer cocktail chatter on this resort island thirty miles off the coast of Massachusetts both have a nautical flavor. The first involves the return of the Great White Sharks. Ever since Peter Benchley made this area the thinly disguised setting for his blockbuster novel Jaws the Great whites have become a staple of local legend. A wrongheaded environmental Protection Agency ban on seal hunting has led to a population explosion among the furry little critters all along the Northern New England coast. Unimpressed by EPA logic Mother Nature sought to redress the balance by sending a bulletin to Atlantic based Great Whites (and smaller sharks) that liberals were sponsoring a “Free Lunch” in these waters. Soon shark sightings abounded leading to many beach closings and other attendant economic dislocations.
The second involves island summer resident Massachusetts Senator John Kerry who got caught trying to evade taxes on the seven million dollar yacht he just had built in New Zealand (so much for Buy American). Johnny thought no one would notice if he quietly listed the boat’s berthing location in nearby Rhode Island which has no tax on these luxury items. By doing so he would deprive financially strapped Massachusetts of $420,000 sales tax revenue and Nantucket where the boat will usually be docked of $70,000 excise tax. Unfortunately for Johnny someone tipped off the Boston Herald, the Rupert Murdoch owned tabloid that delights in flaying the local liberals. For five straight days the Herald gave the entire front page to this story complete with pictures of Johnny in a digitally added pirate’s hat and juicy details about the boats wine cellar, his and her wet bars etc. The Senator- so unfairly harassed by national and local media- moved from a) “I don’t owe any taxes”, to b) “It’s my wife’s boat”, and finaly c) “We always intended to pay these taxes”- which he promptly did. All in all great fun with yet another democrat who wants to raise your taxes while dodging their own ( see Geithner, Sebelius, Rangel etc.)
For Republicans a more ominous political symbol manifested itself last week with the appearance on the island of Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick for a re-election fundraiser. Patrick who gave the disingenuous “Hope and Change” campaign theme its very successful trial run in 2006 is a very lucky man- and not just because bosom buddy Barack Obama has sent his own political guru David Plouffe to run Patrick’s 2010 re-election effort. Owing to the familiar democratic penchant for taxing and spending Patrick is the most unpopular Massachusetts governor in living memory. Nonetheless current poles make him a good bet to win re-election thanks to the third party candidacy of renegade democrat now Independent State Treasurer Tim Cahill who is ruining the once excellent prospects of republican Charles Baker.
Patrick’s good fortune is very like that of Florida Governor Charlie Crist who went from Dead Man Walking in the Republican Senatorial primary to third party independent now topping the polls.
And we have Colorado ex-congressman tom Tancredo whose impending third party candidacy will be the final blow to the once bright prospect of Republicans reclaiming the governor’s mansion in the wake of the inept taxing and spending regime of democrat Bill Ritter.
Twentieth Century history gives prominent examples of third party candidacies that were ruinous for Republicans and by extension the whole country.
The most consequential instance was the fierce quarrel between President William Howard Taft and ex-President Theodore Roosevelt over the “true meaning” and “soul” of the Republican party which led to TR’s third party or “Bull Moose” candidacy. Their fracturing of the Republican Party delivered the White House to Progressive icon Woodrow Wilson whose redistributive “New Freedom” became the model for FDR’s New Deal and the intellectual ancestor of the Obama approach to governance.
Eighty years later the twangy voice of the egomaniacal third party Presidential candidate Ross Perot persuaded millions of voters that George H.W. Bush had “corrupted” the Republican Party and that America needed a “rebirth” and “purification” under his leadership. What America got instead was Bill Clinton. Enough said.
For generations Republicans and Conservatives have disemboweled themselves in a fruitless quest for “Purity” (e.g. Goldwater 1964). If conservatives in Colorado or elsewhere insist on “clarity, specificity, and agreement” on identity, issues etc., we are just forming up yet another circular firing squad. The ultimate temptation of course, is the suicidal Third Party impulse.
If our country is to be saved, it is imperative that Democrats be decisively defeated in the next two elections. All else must be subordinated to that goal for if we fail the damage to our country will be catastrophic and irreversible. As I sit here in Nantucket watching the liberal species up close (MSNBC yakkers Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough within walking distance) I am reminded that Democrats never accurately define themselves or publicly admit of their real plans for “transformational change”. Such deception allows them to win elections every time Republicans screw up. The Progressive agenda like that of its union core is narrow, radical, and unchanging and it has advanced incrementally- by fits and starts- for nearly a century.
Great election victories (1932, 1964, 1980) are won when people decisively reject the opposition (Hoover, Goldwater, Carter). The issues all conservatives can agree on are the Deficit, the Debt, runaway Spending, Metastasizing Government, and the Death of the American Dream for our own children and grandchildren. Let’s leave Purity and Perfection to the afterlife.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow. His columns have appeared in The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Human Events and other publications. He lives in Colorado.