No, Mitt Romney will not bring the end of conservatism

Erick Erickson, the editor of RedState and political commentator, wrote a lengthy post yesterday declaring that if Mitt Romney wins the Republican nomination that conservatism will somehow die.

Should Mitt Romney win the Presidency, conservatives will find this pattern play out repeatedly. Romney will head in a direction conservatives do not like and they will bitch and moan repeatedly and maybe, just maybe, he’ll part his hair in their direction.

We’ve seen this play out over and over. Jon Huntsman comes up with the best economic plan of all the candidates, Herman Cain follows up with 999, Perry comes out with a flat tax, and Romney refuses to do anything. Until he does something.

Mitt Romney is not the George W. Bush of 2012 — he is the Harriet Miers of 2012, only conservative because a few conservative grand pooh-bahs tell us Mitt Romney is conservative and for no other reason.

That is precisely why Mitt Romney will not win in 2012. But no worry, once he loses, Republican establishment types will blame conservatives for not doing enough for Mitt Romney, never mind that Mitt Romney has never been able to sell himself to more than 25% of the GOP voters. It’s not his fault though, it is the 75%’s fault.

Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process.

I realize there is an anti-Romney sentiment in the conservative movement and among tea partyers.That’s understandable given, as I’ve written here many times, that Romney has no real core principles. The man will say anything it takes to get elected and therefore lacks authenticity.

BREAKING: A guy running for office says what people want to hear.

Ironically, Romney was the conservative alternative to John McCain during the last cycle. Even Herman Cain backed him. All the same flip-flops were there at that time, only RomneyCare wasn’t as big of a deal because ObamaCare didn’t exist.

Erickson continues:

Conservatism is already dying. Republicans on Capitol Hill are about to raise taxes on the American people with this Super Committee, but they’ll say they are just “raising revenue,” not taxes. Conservatives will give them a pass as they have on virtually every other major issue. Conservatives keep giving passes to people who shouldn’t be given passes because conservative in Washington have been there so long, they’d much rather get invited to the cocktail parties and avoid awkward encounters.

Washington, D.C. conservatives will also rally around Mitt Romney, just as they kept doing over and over and over with George W. Bush even after steel tariffs in Pennsylvania, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, the GM Bailout, and TARP. At some point the public will cease taking conservatives seriously when the most prominent conservatives — those in Washington who pose as the faces, voices, and writers of the conservative movement at large, keep throwing their lot in with a guy who keeps selling out the very principles conservatives claim to hold dear.

Some conservatives, of course, will not go all in for Romney. These conservatives will be blamed by major Republican and “conservative” mouth pieces for not doing enough to help Mitt Romney. They will be alienated, blamed, and made the scapegoat for the failures of the establishment GOP.

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.

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.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here. Before I go on I want to say that I’m not advocating for Romney’s candidacy or his policies. As I’ll note later today, I wouldn’t vote if Gary Johnson or Ron Paul weren’t on the ballot. But this is so over-dramatic that it’s hard not to call it what it is.

Erickson, who I have a lot of respect for, says that if Romney wins nomination that conservatism is dead. However, I would argue that if conservatism survived George W. Bush and the statist policies of his administration, which led in part to a takeover of Congress by Democrats in 2006 and a severely withered Republican caucus, than the political philosophy can survive anyone or anything. No one person can bring down or destroy ideas.

But on the other hand, maybe conservatism is already dead; or, at the very least, it’s so limited in its reach among politicians in Washington that it is ineffective. And this is the argument that I’d choose to make, especially when you look at those that are often considered to be the leading conservative intellectuals; including Newt Gingrich, who backed TARP and Medicare Part D.

If you don’t want to vote for Romney, and again there are very good reasons not to cast a ballot for him, and I completely understand and agree with them. But let’s not resort to being dramatic about this. Mitt Romney is not going to end conservatism or conservatism as we know it.


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