“Quo vadis,” conservatives? It’s the ancient, apocryphal question the apostle Peter asked Jesus while fleeing persecution in Rome. Where are you going? Where do we go from here?
The contest for the Republican presidential nomination is over. The conservative movement is not. Sen. John McCain’s campaign resurrection and Super Tuesday victory leave a diverse group on the right — from the libertarian Club for Growth to First Amendment defenders to immigration enforcement proponents — dispirited. But the failure to nominate a true Republican unifier does not spell ideological defeat.
Wednesday, wielding his olive branch like a schoolmarm’s ruler, Mr. McCain told conservatives to “calm down.” My advice is the opposite: Get fired up.
Some on the right advise their readers and listeners to vote Democrat or sit home. My advice is exactly the opposite: Get off the couch and walk the walk for conservative candidates and officeholders who need all the help they can get defending free markets, free minds and secure borders — no matter who takes the White House in November.
Dissatisfied with the flawed crop of Republican candidates who lacked the energy, organizational skills and ideological strength to carry the conservative banner and ignite your passions? Then pay attention to the next generation of Republican state legislators who do vote consistently to lower your taxes, uphold the sanctity of life, defend marriage and cut government spending. Support their re-election bids. Reward them for standing with you, instead of their Democratic opponents and the liberal media.
Look at Barack Obama. Four years ago, he was in the Illinois legislature. Now, he’s on the cusp of the presidency.
If you can’t stomach John McCain, channel your support and energies to Republicans who do represent your values and who have treated the conservative base as allies instead of enemies. There is a new generation of combat veterans running for office who haven’t made a career of trashing the base. Check out staunch economic, social and national security conservative congressional candidates like Iraq/Afghanistan veteran Eric Egland in California’s 4th district. Check out the Vets for Freedom (vetsforfreedom.org) group for their endorsements.
Opposed to the amnesty bill? Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, James Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Cornyn of Texas all fought the McCain-Kennedy-Graham-Martinez-Bush open-borders disaster. All those senators are up for re-election this year. Send them some money. Then send a few more bucks to the enforcement proponents on the House side, as well.
Don’t sit and wait for the fence to get built. It won’t be finished under the Bush administration or a McCain administration or an Obama or Hillary Clinton administration. What you can do is pressure mayors and police chiefs and city councils to rescind dangerous sanctuary policies. Alert county sheriffs that you want them to work with the feds to end illegal alien catch-and-release policies in your neighborhood.
You can stop patronizing businesses that you know are knowingly employing illegal immigrants using fake IDs and stolen Social Security numbers.
There are other vital issues on the ballot this fall that need conservative backing. Conservative stalwart Ward Connerly is leading a “Super Tuesday for Equal Rights” drive in November to end racial preferences in five states. He has not only battled the race demagogues on the left and the affirmative action apologists in the media, but also spineless Republican establishment leaders who would rather pander to the “diversity” lobby than fight for true equality under the law. Mr. Connerly spearheaded resounding victories in California, Washington and Michigan. The new campaign is targeting Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Support his organization, the American Civil Rights Institute (www.acri.org).
Twenty-six years ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Reagan rallied conservatives:
“We must ask ourselves tonight how we can forge and wield a popular majority from one end of this country to the other, a majority united on basic, positive goals with a platform broad enough and deep enough to endure long into the future, far beyond the lifespan of any single issue or personality.”
Get involved. Don’t calm down. Get fired up.
Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.