Do Conservatives Really Want to Win?
By John D. Turner
10 Aug 2012

I was listening to a supposedly “conservative” radio talk show host last night while I was in my car. The entire time I was listening, his whole spiel was whether or not his listeners consider Mitt Romney to be “presidential” or whether he is the “Mighty Putty” (his term) candidate instead. He went to great pains to explain that by “presidential” he meant someone with the “gravitas” to be president – like Ronald Reagan of course, and that by “Mighty Putty” he meant a Mr. Fixit – someone to patch things over until a “real” president can be found to do the job. His bias, clearly, was on the “Mighty Putty” side and he was extremely encouraging of his listeners to take that view as well.

Does he, and others like him, really think that this sort of thing will help defeat President Obama in the November election? That is what “conservatives” want, isn’t it?

Instead it seems like many conservatives are still bickering over who should be the candidate and hoping and praying that there is some kind of a floor fight at the Republican convention to install someone, anyone, other than Mitt Romney. There are rumors that Ron Paul, for example, will refuse to release his delegates to Mitt, forcing some sort of action. That’s just what we need, right? A good old fashioned floor fight, right before the election, to show everyone that our party is in disarray and we can’t get our act together.

Meanwhile, the Democrat political machine marches on, putting out all sorts of rubbish concerning Mitt, with the apparent complacency of the mainstream media. The more outlandish the claim the better; and this concerning a candidate that the best they have been able to dig up so far (factually), is that he once went on vacation with Rover strapped to the top of his vehicle in a dog kennel. Wow.

It’s pretty sad really. All this time conservatives have been claiming that they want a businessman as a candidate; that they want someone above reproach ethically and morally; that they want someone “presidential” who will rise above the fray. Well, they have such a candidate now. Too bad he turned out to be a Mormon, huh?

But that was then; this is now. Apparently, being “presidential” today means being someone who will roll up his or her sleeves and climb right down in the muck with the Democrats. Romney’s new problem is that he is “too nice.” This was explained by the talk show host (who went to great pains to make it crystal clear that he has nothing against Mormons), as being a part of his “Mormon upbringing” (which he also admitted he really knows nothing about).

But, as was explained to him by a friend (who he never actually vetted as an expert on the subject), Mormons go on missions. And while they are on their missions, they knock on a lot of doors, trying to convert people to their way of thinking. And a lot of doors get slammed in their faces. Since their religion tells them to “turn the other cheek,” this leads to Mormons becoming very humble and willing to overlook things when others smack them around a bit. Not really his fault you understand. I guess this also means that it would be a bad thing for a Mormon to ever run for president; they are just too nice for that rough and tumble world.

I guess this is a conservative politically correct way of saying “Mormons need not apply.” Instead of branding us as cultists and mentally unbalanced, they instead say we are just too nice to put up a fight.

What’s wrong with “turning the other cheek” anyway? That isn’t a “Mormons only” concept, it’s right out of the Bible. Christ said that was what we are supposed to do.

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” – Matthew 5:39 (King James Version)

I don’t recall there being an exception for political campaigns. Nor do I recall this as being something only priests or preachers were supposed to do.

I have heard this passage described as “do not repel one outrage by another,” as he that does so makes himself precisely what the other is; a wicked person. Is this what we desire in a political candidate? Someone who is a mirror reflection of what is being hurled at us? If our opponent is “wicked,” should we become wicked as well? Do I need to become untrustworthy in order to combat an untrustworthy opponent? If so, how could you ever trust me?

Perhaps this radio host, and others should become a little more conversant with our faith instead of relying on hearsay or theorizing based on incorrect assumptions. Do you want to know what Mormon’s think? Ask a Mormon. What a concept! But you might have to ask several, because we don’t all think alike. Not all of us have been on missions after all. The best move might be to ask our church leadership. Talk to a bishop or stake president. We have a number of them here in San Antonio. We are listed in the phone book under “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” You don’t need to be 007 to find a Mormon to talk to.

There is nothing in our faith that prevents us from fighting. We have many members in the Armed Forces, defending this nation. We are not Quakers. Ten Mormons number among those awarded our nation’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

One of them, Bernard F. Fisher, I have actually met, although I was not a member of the Church at the time. He was stationed at the same base my dad was at when I was a kid. I read about his action in Boy’s Life. I mentioned to my parents how brave he was and that’s when they told me that he lived practically right down the street. I have seen his aircraft at the Air Force Museum. I pointed it out to my kids, and told them the story about how then Maj Fisher landed his A1E Skyraider, against orders and under fire from enemy ground forces, to pick up a fellow downed pilot. Bravery? Brother Fisher doesn’t see it that way at all. As he tells it, he prayed about it and was assured by the Spirit that everything would turn out ok. So although his plane was hit 19 times he never felt he was in any danger; God was with him. It’s not bravery when you know you will be all right.

A little closer to home is SSgt Asher Woodhouse; a little closer, because I watched him grow up. Asher was a member of my ward. His father is a retired AF Master Sergeant, who owns his own air conditioning service and served as our bishop for seven years. Asher, too, went on a mission. And when he returned he enlisted in the Air Force, like his dad, and became a PJ – a pararescueman. On 3 June 2010 he went on a mission of another sort – into hostile enemy fire in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan to rescue American soldiers; not once but twice. For this action he and the other members of his team were awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.

Like Mitt, Asher served a mission. Like Mitt, Asher knocked on a lot of doors, and no doubt, a lot of them were slammed in his face. Asher understands “turn the other cheek.” And yet, he also knows how to act decisively and make the correct decisions when the chips are down.

You might wonder why I put the term “conservative” in quotes at the beginning of this article. I did it because I am becoming less and less certain what the word actually means. To some people, I fit the definition. To others, I do not. Must I have a lengthy checklist, and check off every box without fail to be able to wear the label “conservative?” If so, we are truly lost, as that objective will never be achieved.

Ronald Reagan, whom conservatives say they revere, once said that anyone who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and ally. Today, many “conservatives” would label such an individual a RINO – Republican In Name Only. I’m not sure even Reagan could win a Republican primary these days; he almost didn’t win in 1980.

I keep hearing that in order to win an election for President these days, that you have to capture the “swing” vote; the Independents. I also am told time and time again that Americans, particularly independent voters are “sick and tired” of negative campaign ads.

And yet, that is what the Democrats continue to do. Why? Did they not get the memo?

I think they did. I think the Democrats are pursuing a different strategy. And I also think that by spending so much time tearing down our own candidate, instead of making a case for why we need to elect him, we are playing right into their hands.

The Democrats know that the independent voter dislikes negative campaigning. The conventional wisdom says that you have to woo the independent; get him or her to vote for you instead of the other guy. But what if, instead, you just get him or her to simply not vote at all?

The majority of voters who vote are either Republican or Democrat, not Independent. Independents make up a small part of the total voter population. And when it comes to registered Republicans and registered Democrats, there are more registered Democrats than there are Republicans. All things being equal (which they seldom are), if you throw out the Independents and make the contest just between Democrats and Republicans, the Democrats will win just based on simple numbers. Now some Democrats will vote against Barack Obama. Some Republicans may vote for him. And of course, we can’t forget the illegal and dead votes either.

Negative campaign ads, the more outlandish the better, may actually help the Democrats in several ways. First, it energizes their base. And let’s face it; their base needs some heavy duty voltage right about now. Second, it encourages those who dislike negative campaign ads, mainly Independents, but some Republicans as well, to “sit this one out.” Those who spout the line that there isn’t a “dime’s worth of difference” between Republicans and Democrats in particular make them smile. These “useful idiots” make a lot of noise at no cost to the Progressive cause, and are the most likely to sit out the election.

It also causes Conservatives to play right into their hands. No one likes to be pummeled; most people who are hit, hit right back. Turn the other cheek is a fine sentiment, but for most folks it is a totally alien concept. And so we hear the cries of people who claim that Mitt is “too nice,” that he won’t fight back, that he is milquetoast, and not “mean” enough to handle this fight. “What we need is a junkyard dog,” they say, “someone who can get down and dirty with the worst of them.”

This aids the Democrats in several ways. It splits the Conservatives and creates dissatisfaction within the ranks for their own candidate. How can you convince an Independent swing voter or even a fellow Republican who is on the fence, to vote for Mitt when you are spending all your time disparaging him? How can you claim the moral high ground (which is supposed to be where the Republicans dwell) when you want your guy to hit below the belt, and castigate him if he won’t? How do you make a convincing argument?

Next, it takes the argument off message. Even worse, if you do succeed in convincing Mitt that he needs to counter these ridiculous charges and start a “he said she said” campaign, it takes him off message. More independents and Republicans stay home; point Democrats.

Finally, you are not going to beat the Democrats at this game. It’s their game, their home turf. You are now playing ball in their sand lot, reacting to their moves. They have taken charge of the election at this point. People don’t expect the Democrats to “play fair,” so not doing so doesn’t hurt them.

The Lord told us to turn the other cheek for a reason.

And so we come back to “Mighty Putty,” and I just have to ask once more, “what is the objective here?” What are we trying to accomplish in this election? Do we really want to unseat Barack Obama or are we good with “four more years?” If the objective is to win in November, this is certainly not the way to go about it.

I have heard enough of “McCain lite,” “RINO”, and other such put downs, not from the left, but from the right to last me a good long while. OK, so he wasn’t your first choice. He wasn’t mine either. But he’s the guy, so can we please just put the animosity aside and come together? Maybe someday your perfect candidate will get the nod, but until then can we please just work with what we have? Keep in mind that your “perfect candidate” might well be a RINO to someone else.

I have heard enough “he’s going to lose – just like McCain” to last awhile too. Ever heard of self-fulfilling prophesy? If we don’t change our ways we are going to reap what we are sowing.

Bottom line Conservatives: Do you want to win in November, or do you instead want to lose just so you can have the satisfaction of being able to say “I told you so?” You can have four more years of Barack Obama if you like. I guess if you are a radio talk show host that could be a good thing – as long as he doesn’t shut you down.