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Looking for Perfection in All the Wrong Places

September 3, 2013 - 6:00pm

Conservatives have this in common with sharks and polar bears: They eat their own.

This cannibalistic predilection is going to make it more difficult to rescue the nation from its downward spiral.

Last year, the less-liberal party had a good chance to recapture the U.S. Senate, and an outside chance of reclaiming the White House.

But the Senate seats were frittered away. Candidates who could win were dumped in primaries because they weren't conservative enough.

Because the GOP candidate for president wasn't conservative enough for many voters, they just stayed home. Every nonvote was a vote for Barack Obama, in effect.

Good candidates continue to appear and are a hit until someone discovers that somewhere along the way they have voted on one issue or another in a way that didn't fit the perfect conservative template.

Recently, long-time congressman Cliff Stearns went down to a newcomer who claimed more conservative credentials. The usurper managed to win because it is a safe Republican seat, but that could turn out differently under the right circumstances.

My own congressman, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, says, "Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good."

Crenshaw has been criticized by the local tea party and has drawn opposition in primaries.

I've known Crenshaw 40-plus years and his conservative credentials are impeccable. He is a lawyer, active Christian, and son-in-law of the late former governor Claude Kirk. But he voted for TARP and, apparently, this is why the tea party soured on him.

I'm down with the tea party's goal of restoring the Constitution and lessening the grip of government on the private sector, but opposing imperfect conservatives who can win is nuts.

Crenshaw had an 86.75 score with the American Conservative Union last year.

Ronald Reagan the gold standard in conservatives and presidents once said that anyone who supported 80 percent of his agenda was his friend.

Several GOP stalwarts, including a couple from Florida -- Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have been mentioned as successors to Obama in 2016. Each had a spurt of popularity among conservatives and then lost support.

Rubio's weakness is illegal immigration and Bush favors the Common Core standards. Tea party types don't like either one.

Either of these guys would be a great improvement over the status quo, but it would take solid conservative support to make it happen. Hillary Clinton, despite what you read in the lib media, does not have a lock on the job. (Her victory would mean, in effect, a third term for Bill. Hello?)

To advance a conservative agenda, you have to win office. With more and more people feeding from the government trough, it is more and more difficult to fend off socialism. Those votes are bought and paid for if our children and grandchildren can pay the tab.

But if conservatives get elected and can turn the socialist steamroller around, the result could be more conservative conservatives being elected by grateful voters. (A majority of Americans think America is on the wrong track.)

Politics is a strange place to look for purity.

Lloyd Brown was in the newspaper business nearly 50 years, beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor of the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville. After retirement he served as speech writer for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

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