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The vast left-wing conspiracy was out in full force on Tuesday night, and it put John McCain back in the race. George Bush was magnanimous in defeat, but that doesn’t mean anyone else has to be. The exit polls showed that this wasn’t a Republican primary; actual members of the GOP didn’t constitute even half the voters. It was a Clinton Time, with labor unions and other shock troops for the federal government sabotaging a primary.

Take a close look at the exit polls. Two-thirds of Bush’s voters were Republicans, mostly a younger, affluent crowd of self-identified conservatives. If this were a real Republican primary, he would be the victor. He had the same margin of Republican votes as he did in South Carolina, which makes him the technical front-runner by a longshot. However, two-thirds of McCain’s voters were either Democrats or "blue-collar" independents, a poor and mostly older crowd that listed protecting their social-security benefits as the first priority.

That’s just the beginning of the trickery. Among Democrats who voted, McCain received the votes of 4 out of 5. And get this: among all voters, substantially more said that Bush was more likely to beat the Democrat nominee. Clearly, the "greatest generation" — and the "dependent generation" of Clinton partisans — came out in full force for McCain, because they believe that McCain is a weaker candidate against Gore than Bush, and if he is not, they can live with it.

For three days, we’ve endured the wailing of the press and the whining of the McCain forces, that Bush used unfair tactics in South Carolina, that he spread hate and fear and that this whipped up illegitimate interest groups (religious folks) into voting for him. Should that election really be counted? And now: it’s all celebration, all the time, for McCain is back in his glory. Just don’t notice that it was the Democrats’ favorite voters who made it possible.

If Bush loses the nomination, the bitterness and anger will be permanent. What kind of primary is this anyway, where members of the party in power get to pick the nominee of the party out of power? If this were Republicans picking the Democrat nominee — say, a conservative pro-lifer from the South — we would hear screams of bloody murder. Instead, we are getting hymns to the marvelous "Reagan Democrats" to whom McCain is supposedly appealing.

But let’s get this straight: Democrats who voted for Reagan were sick of the left. Not so with McCain. Here’s a man who has never seen a Clinton war he didn’t want escalated, who supports a campaign finance plan that would empower the media and the government at the expense of private groups, and advocates the wholesale demolition of the tobacco industry solely because he does not like them.

The people who pulled the lever for this man had every intention of doing harm, and they did so. What we have here is not a "broadening of the base," but a full-scale subversion, a reflection of a war within and without. Within, the war is between the pro-welfare/warfare state neoconservatives and regular party members who are essentially libertarian in their outlook (pro-tax cut, pro-local control, and anti-foreign war). From without, this vote reflects a vicious and unprecedented conspiracy by the Clinton political machine to shore up the power and prestige of the federal government at a time when both are in meltdown.

What McCain represents, then, is that last best hope of the present regime to maintain its control over the American political landscape. How interesting that the turnout for the Michigan primary election was four times as big as 1996 — this at a time when voters are as rare as McCain Republicans. Who would have believed, one year ago, that George W. Bush would be seen as so great a threat to their power that they would pull out all the stops, and even go so far as to aggress against an entire primary election?

But to be fair, Bush and the Republicans deserve blame too. It took far too long for Bush forces to reconsider the role of campaign manager Karl Rove, the man who was behind his initial lackadaisical approach to campaigning, and also the man who failed to notice that labor unions and other public charges were busy conspiring in Michigan. He deserves to go.

More substantively, as Gerald Seib explained in the Wall Street Journal last week, back in the 1970s, Republicans began opening up their primaries to voters who aren’t registered Republicans, in an effort to shore up support for their nominee and enlarge the role of states run by governors friendly to the establishment. Until now, this has posed no problem. But Clinton forces are famous for using any available means to undermine efforts to roll back their power, and they see a vehicle in McCain.

I’ll spare you a recitation of McCain’s mendacity, all of which is well known by now. For months, Justin Raimondo at has done the hard labor necessary to show that he represents the darkest side of American politics, and that he is probably insane to boot. (Did you know, for example, that McCain recently said that the US shouldn’t have been involved in the Kosovo conflict — this from the man who came into the public spotlight fanatically advocating ground troops in the same?)

One final note: I’ve had readers ask me how it is that Mr. Anti-Political, Mr. Don’t Vote, would suddenly find himself hanging on every exit poll and devouring every piece of political news available. I could defend myself as a pure Toquevilleian: the French journalist noticed that in 19th century America, nobody gave a flip about the election until the last minute, when the entire public went into a 48-hour frenzy, which then quickly died down.

But there’s a more important reason: the McCain Threat is the closest thing to a national emergency that we’ve seen in some years. President McCain is likely to plunge the US into a whole series of international wars which would require the reinstitution of the draft, the raising of taxes, and the central planning of the economy, which would in turn bring about a deep recession and worse. The result would be to reverse the progress we’ve made for a decade, and wreck the chances for a revival of liberty in our time.

I have never believed that politics is the answer to our woes. The state will be brought down through a different means. But politics can darn sure wreck the prospects for liberty, and McCain — with his Dr. Strangelove-style devotion to state power and war — is the man who has been anointed as wrecker-in-chief. After he loses, to whomever, we can all go back to our regularly scheduled program.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is editor of a daily news site,

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