Thursday, April 17, 2008

I've Lost My Keyes

Way back in 1996, I proudly voted for Alan Keyes for President of these United States. That was the year when I grew tired of the "conservative" label and became interested in candidates who would stand for the principles under which this nation was founded. Alan Keyes was that candidate. He didn't just pick a favorite amendment to the Constitution and make a big deal out of it, as many politicians do; he was a scholar who could well be described as a constitutional fundamentalist. "Constitutional" means something; "conservative" is a much more flexible term. There is much that is considered "conservative" that I can not relate to, most of it having nothing to do with politics. But "constitutional"? I'm there, dude!

Alan Keyes's political philosophy was not the only thing about him that interested me. The more I learned about his personal life, the more impressed I was. Here was a man we could respect, in contrast to the ongoing sex joke, Bill Clinton. There was nothing wrong with Alan Keyes, as far I as could see. I've never cast a vote for President with as much zeal as I did in 1996.

Of course, it was just the primary election and the uninspiring Bob Dole won handily. Well, there's always 2000...

So in 2000 I looked forward to Alan Keyes running again, as he did indeed do. I was disappointed to walk into the voting booth and find that his name was nowhere to be found. By the time the Pennsylvania primary came around, George W. Bush had the nomination wrapped up, so I voted for the rather obscure marginal candidate Gary Bauer. I've never had much of an opinion one way or the other on Gary Bauer, but I voted for him on the basis that if he somehow were to get elected, he would stir Democrat hatred more than any of the other Republican candidates. If we had had those newfangled electronic voting machines back then, I would have done an Alan Keyes write-in.

Along the way, Dr. Keyes ran unsuccessfully for US Senate in Maryland. More famously, he was the sacrificial lamb in the 2004 Illinois Senate race against Barack Messiah Obama. By that time, I was more interested in him as a scholar than as a politician. Realistically, the electorate doesn't have a place for a politician who isn't at least a borderline populist.

That hasn't stopped Alan Keyes from trying to get back into the fray. At a fairly late point in 2008 primary season, and to little fanfare, he entered the race for the Republican nomination. He soon exited the race just as quietly. My enthusiasm had waned, but he was still going to be my second choice after Ron Paul.

Here's a question: Given my past support for Alan Keyes, would I stand behind him if he were to run as a third party or independent candidate?

The answer is "No". Alan Keyes has chosen to bolt the Republican Party so he can try running under the Constitution Party banner. There is much to like about the Constitution Party, just as there is about the Libertarian Party. Like it or not, though, we are stuck with a two-party system. If John McCain isn't "conservative" enough for you, or if you think the Republicans are turning into Democrats lite, abandoning the party is not the way to make things better. You are only empowering the opposition. Alan Keyes has made an arguably principled choice. But it is also the wrong choice. If he takes even one voter with him, away from the Republican Party, he is helping the Democrats.

Alan Keyes has already lost one election to Obama. Why does he want to do it again?

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