Over the course of his life conservative leader and writer William F. Buckley, Jr., dispensed much political wisdom. Perhaps the best of his aphorisms was termed “The Buckley Rule.” It states that in political races conservatives should support the most electable conservative. Emphasis, as is clear, on electable.

Buckley understood that talk is cheap when you are outside of government and that a pure candidate based on conservative ideology may not appeal to enough voters in a country, state, or district to get elected to office. This is even more so today, as WFB died in 2008.

Ronald Reagan, a man Buckley laid the political and ideological groundwork for, said, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20 percent traitor.” So, let’s look at the potential 2024 candidates with ideological blinders off and see who is the most electable regarding the entire country and who agrees with conservatives enough to make them viable.

1) Former President Trump- A split decision. He brings the most baggage to the race, as half the country idiotically thinks he’s the devil incarnate. He is also a solid conservative on most issues. Could he win again? Maybe. There are others who are more electable.

2) Governor Ron DeSantis- The class of the field, impressive on both counts. Yes, he’s a superb conservative and that will alienate about 45 percent of the nation. But he doesn’t bring, fairly or unfairly, the massive personal negatives Trump brings to the race. The usual suspects would go after DeSantis at every turn. But he offers a sunny confident demeanor shorn of Trump’s mercurial tendencies. That would go part of the way in ameliorating personal attacks against him. DeSantis’ Navy service and squeaky clean family image also serve in good contrast to Trump. The governor’s ideological bonafides are good. He has governed Florida as a conservative and has no problem taking on the Biden administration and doing it with panache and strength. Republicans would be fools not to put him on the ticket, preferably in the premier slot.

3) Nikki Haley- Good on electability, decent on ideology. She is a walking talking example of the Buckley rule. She could win. Republicans could play the female and minority card with her. She’s attractive, articulate, and doesn’t bring national baggage. And even though she more than meets the Reagan ideology test, some parochial conservatives may not support her because she doesn’t agree with them 100 percent of the time. Those conservatives should get a grip and grow up.

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4) Governor Kristi Noem- Excellent on both counts. There are a small few who suspect her conservative credentials, but they’re loons who keep busy looking for heretics under every bed. She needs to be on the ticket.