I've gotten a lot of calls and emails by individuals asking me why I have not endorsed candidate x at this time. Right now my ideological side is battling with my pragmatic side, and both have about 50% influence. I'm still a little ornery from the MSU game as I write this, so heads up in advance.
A little bit of background. In 2000, I was not a Republican. I was an independent with libertarian leanings, and very little pragmatism. I still have a bit of the indy streak in me as I vote the person over the party and never voted for a straight ticket (voted for blank and one libertarian judge since the republican wasn't contesting worth a damn). That said, I have not protest voted for a major office since the 2000 Senate race back when I went libertarian. That was before I was a Republican, and the current incumbent's office made the poor decision to directly lie to me. My bloodlines are Irish and I tend to remember things like that.
Back in 2000, I was planning to vote for Harry Browne, the Libertarian. I was not impressed with some of the positions of then Governor Bush. He was vague in his speeches and was not the best communicator. On policy, he remided me too much of Bill Clinton without the scandals. Sometimes I still get that gut feeling. I don't care for GATT with the WTO managing US trade. I'm not much of a nation builder. I don't like the big spending, and don't think the feds have any business in education policy (that's why we have school boards) or health care (prescription drugs) as they always tend to foul things up.
My decision then rested on two things. Janet Reno and the Supreme Court. I did not want to see Al Gore pick 2 or 3 Supreme Court justices. I did not want to see the butcher of Waco appointed for another term at AG. That flipped my vote from Browne to Bush at the last minute.
2004 was easier for me. Nominating the guy that represents literally every single thing wrong with the democrats - John Kerry - makes it an easy choice. For my gripes I have with Bush on several issues, I still have no regrets. On every issue which I disagreed with Bush, Kerry either agreed with him, or was worse.
And now we have a race between Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Fred Thompson, and Mike Huckabee. I'm real tired of the "I'm conservative too" bullshit soundbytes going on right now, and am looking to see plans, actions, and governmental reforms that are not worse than the problem. Good ole fashion less government. I'm undecided, and will probably stay that way until close to primary day.
But in the end with me, 2008 comes down to one issue over anything else. SCOTUS. "The Supreme Court of the United States." We are maybe one, if not two justices away from a constitutionalist court, getting the 10th amendment back, regaining our 2nd amendment rights (Parker v DC is a big case right now which has been appealed to SCOTUS), and delegating the abortion issue (Overturning the Lochner cases of our time - Doe v Bolton and Roe v Wade) and their successors to the states where it belongs. Unlike what the media portrays, overturning Roe and Doe do not ban abortions, but put the issue where it belongs on 10th amendment grounds - to the states and the people.
The ages of the SCOTUS justices:
Stevens - 87
Ginsburg - 74
Scalia - 71
Kennedy - 71
Breyer - 69
Souter - 68
Thomas - 59
Alito - 57
Roberts (chief) - 52
I know people are living a long time these days, but when half of the justices are in their 70's, that means there could be a lot of retirements. I really do not want to see a bunch of Breyer clones about 50 years old serving for thirty-five years, who do not follow constitution, but either create or ignore rights that should be considered "political questions."
Granted, not all of the conservatives or liberals are lockstep with one another. Even Justice Thomas (who I agree with the most on judicial issues) and Scalia sometimes disagee. Chief Justice Roberts has impressed me so far with his decisions/dissents. It is too early to tell with Justice Alito. I just hope the next few justices follow the constitution as it is written and to return the commerce clause to its original meaning and substanstive due process to its pre-Lochner (even though I agree with the Lochner philospohy, it was not the business of the federal government - I am consistent) meaning.
I'd like to see the next Justice of the Supreme Court be Alex Kozinski, or someone on that line. Will that happen? I don't know.
Which presidential candidate will move us towards that direction? It certainly isn't the democrats - even Richardson and Gravel who I don't mind on a personal level, but simply can not vote for due to policy reasons. Will the Republican candidates do so? That's what I still need to figure out, especially in the cases of Giuliani, Huckabee, and Romney. The senators have a record on this issue, good or bad, in their confirmation votes.
This is my 2008 litmus test. A constitutionalist court.