Incensed by Obama, frustrated with the cowboys in Congress: What's a conservative voter to do?
The Republican primary pool is starting to take shape, and GOP voters are none too impressed. A new poll shows that in the bellwether state of Ohio, only Mitt Romney and possibly Rick Perry have a shot at catching up with Barack Obama in 2012. A strange thing has happened: Independents are approving less of Obama's performance, but are more committed to voting for him. And it's because the selection of GOP candidates is just not doing it for people.
Put yourself in the typical Republican voter's shoes: he's been hearing for almost three years that Barack Obama is a radical leftist, socialist, unpatriotic, big-government, spendy Muslim president who needs to be stopped. Like the rest of the country, he's incredibly pissed that he sees friends and family losing their jobs. He's had to accept a pay cut and watch his daughter take on thousands of dollars in debt just to go to school. And Obama has presided over all of this. Nothing has gotten better—in fact, he keeps hearing it's gotten worse. He nodded vigorously when Mitch McConnell proclaimed that his number one goal was to make Obama a one-term president.
Yet he's disgusted with the stalemate in Congress, and he, like half of GOP voters, blames his own party. He remembers being energized by a Tea Party rally in his hometown of West Palm Beach, and he cast his vote for the defiant, tough-as-nails Allen West. But he's having buyer's remorse over some of the cowboys in the House—why did they have to put our country in jeopardy like that last month? Suddenly he agrees with some of his friends that the Tea Party isn't the answer.
He watched the Republican debates on television last week, and he and his wife cheered when Michele Bachmann defended her pristine conservative record against Tim Pawlenty's attacks. But secretly he was thinking, "That's the kind of thing that created the debt crisis." And the government shutdown business, too, come to think of it. He hates to admit it, but when Obama promises to "put politics aside," he wishes he heard more of that sentiment from his own party.
Can you blame GOP voters like this one for being discouraged so far? Voters want it both ways: a committed conservative who will also be able to beat Obama...and then govern effectively, not just stubbornly. But nobody wins primary elections by vowing to compromise, and Bachmann, Perry, and Ron Paul have extreme right-wing records that will make it tough to bridge the divide if they are elected president. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, just doesn't seem to be different enough from the status quo—he signed a universal health care law, for God's sake!
Bu what all voters know deep down is that compromise is a necessary evil to get anything done, no matter how angry they are at the current administration.