I’ve spent some time in this blog this week examining the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. My presumption is that it’s going to be one of the three who currently poll best—Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, or Mike Huckabee.
Now, someone else may sneak up on them, whether it’s Newt Gingrich, Mitch Daniels, or an entirely surprising name that no one is considering right now. But it’s not likely. Whoever it is, though, had better be principled and focused. It is never a simple task to unseat a sitting president even in bad times. The Jimmy Carter years were horrendous, yet until the week before the election in 1980, many polls still showed Reagan running behind him. The overwhelming Reagan victory in that election masks the tremendous effort it took to overcome the inertia of the American voter.
Most Republicans look back fondly on the Reagan years. In 2008, when one of the Republican primary debates was held at the Reagan Library, this cartoon appeared:
In the view of the cartoonist, none of the aspirants could match the Reagan legacy. Another one commented on the wistfulness expressed by some conservatives:
I am a great admirer of Ronald Reagan. I’ve just completed a book manuscript that I hope to get published in which Reagan is one of the two men I examine in detail. I also teach a course on Reagan and the modern conservative movement. Yet no matter how much I appreciate what he did, I refuse to live in the past. I believe other leaders exist who are prepared to provide principled leadership at this time. We just need to recognize them and allow them to fulfill the destiny for which they have been groomed.
Don’t give in to cynicism. Give God the opportunity to save a people who often don’t even know they are in need of saving.