Conservatives had better learn to like McCain

He's fiercely pro-life. When others were abandoning President George W. Bush over the war in Iraq, and later the controversial "surge" decision, Sen. John McCain was unwilling to break from the president.

Yet when you listen to conservatives, they have a hatred for McCain that is close to their absolute dislike of Sen. Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

What gives?

Conservatives continue to be up in arms because McCain refuses to be a lackey and buy into a lot of their pet issues. First, they rip him on voting against Bush's tax cuts. Yet what all of them refuse to acknowledge is that the Congress under Bush &

the Republican Congress &

behaved like an out-of-control teenager with his parents' credit card and spent wildly. For McCain, it was simple: Tax cuts with no spending limits would lead to a fiscal crisis.

What happened? A surplus left by President Clinton was turned into a massive deficit by Bush and the GOP-led Congress. And today we sit on the verge of a financial crisis.

Then there was campaign finance. Sick and tired of big money controlling politicians, McCain teamed up with Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin to pass a law that severely restricted the dollars in federal elections. This angered conservatives because they viewed the issue as a First Amendment cause, when in fact, they really were upset about the GOP losing a major advantage over the Democrats when it came to fundraising. With that window narrowed by the law, they didn't want to see that disappear. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down some parts of the law, but that still hasn't satisfied the money vultures on the right.

Lastly, immigration. In an effort to exercise leadership on a volatile issue, McCain chose not to be a demagogue and work out a compromise bill that would curtail the nation's unsecured borders and figure out a way to do something with the 12 million illegal immigrants in the nation. If you talk to the rabid conservative talk show hosts and their wild and crazed listeners, their only option is to throw them all out of the country. In former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, they have a very sympathetic ear.

But we all know the truth. That will never happen. NEVER. You are not going to move 12 million people out of the U.S. You are not going to see multiple industries collapse. You are not going to see billions of dollars spent to round up families and deport them.

Let me be clear: It's not going to happen.

So instead of drooling at such prospects, McCain worked with Democrats and some Republicans to offer a solution, which included making illegal immigrants learn English and pay a fine. The solution also included targeting businesses that hire illegal immigrants and forcing immigrants to get in line to apply for citizenship.

Yet the anger in America was too great. Whites, blacks, some Hispanics, conservatives and yes, even liberals, couldn't stomach doing this first and not securing the borders.

During Wednesday's debate at the Reagan Library, McCain conceded that his law wasn't palatable, and something else must be done.

Folks, that's called a pragmatic leader trying to solve a difficult situation.

So now we're left with conservatives trying to do anything to stop McCain, with some even suggesting &

especially evangelicals &

that they might run a third-party candidate.

Word to the wise: Shut up, suck it up and deal with it.

If McCain wins the nomination, he is the best option the GOP has to stopping the candidacies of Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

History also serves as warning. Remember 1992? Fiscal conservatives &

boy, where did they go with this current Republican administration? &

were up in arms because President George H.W. Bush went back on his no taxes pledge. They railed against him for months, which led them right into the arms of billionaire Ross Perot.

With his assaults on an inefficient government and the trade policies of America, Perot captured the hearts and minds of many and threw his hat into the ring.

So instead of facing an unknown Democrat from a small Southern state in Bill Clinton, the incumbent Bush had to fend off a pit bull like Perot.

The result? Clinton won 43 percent of the vote; Bush 37.4 percent; and Perot garnered 18.9 percent. There is no doubt that Perot played a large role in denying Bush a second term.

Democrats had the same problem that year. They weren't happy about the somewhat conservative Clinton. Liberals and progressives didn't like him, but they had to accept him as their choice. Now, he's treated like the Ronald Reagan of the Democratic Party.

The last reason it's nonsensical to toss McCain aside is because the U.S. Supreme Court is one vote away from having a conservative majority. Do you actually think conservatives are dumb enough to destroy McCain, paving the way for a Democrat to potentially appoint three Supreme Court justices in the next four years?

Conservatives, take a chill pill. McCain isn't the Antichrist. He's an independent voice who has been willing to talk tough to you, even when you didn't like it. But he sides with conservatives more often than not.

If you continue on your present path, you may very well be looking at the Democrats enjoying what Bush enjoyed his first six years: Democrats controlling the legislative, judicial and executive branches.

Are you willing to live with that?

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at . To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at .

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