August 31, 2008 | National Review Online

We Need a New Base?

An always thoughtful reader writes:

Rick also misses something here: “You would have thought the base was energized by being in a war. If not, perhaps we need a new base.”

There is a difference between feeling like you have to vote for McCain because of support for our troops (and judges a few other pressing matters) and actually being energized to vote for the ticket.  With Palin, there is some hope (with much left to unfold, and much left for her to earn – e.g. immigration, where she really is on climate change, judges, affirmative action, and many other issues) that we have a conservative candidate who is of the people, of the states… NOT of Washington.  

Being so tired and frustrated with Washington that you cannot get enthused about a 72-year-old man who has been in Washington for close to 30 of those years, and, by the way, has stuck his thumb in the eye of conservatives many more times than once, does not mean that the base is ignorant of the importance of having a candidate who understands the importance of continuing the war against radical Islamic terrorists.

A lot of voters would have been pragmatic without Palin.  But it appears that many more will be pragmatic with her, and more, she just softens the blow for many of them and makes them more excited.  That’s normal – and it’s a reasonable (and in my opinion, correct) feeling. The verdict is out on Palin, but the fact she has made the base more energetic in no way means the base was wrong to be frustrated and apathetic.  Maybe the base had something to do with McCain going with Palin instead of Lieberman.  Maybe the base will push McCain to pick Roberts, not Souter.  Maybe the base will make sure we actually get border security coupled with a sensible immigration policy instead of token measures on the road to amnesty.

That’s healthy.  It shows that conservatives can stick together and influence policy – in a way that was not true prior to the Internet, before there was a Heritage Foundation, before there was a National Review (or NRO), before there was a Federalist Society.  We can make a difference, and we are not wrong to demand adherence to basic, conservative ideology.  Whether Palin represents that basic ideology is yet to be determined, but the signal is strong that she has a vision rooted not in Washington and big government programs, but in the individual, the family, the community… and that is a vision for America that I want to live in.  That is a vision for America I can be enthused about.  I just pray she grows into this role and stands strong on those basic, conservative principles that we all are hoping she holds.