If Rick Perry leaves the Republican race, there will not be a candidate in the field who authentically represents smaller government. While many conservatives don’t mind activist government so long as the ends are conservative, the willful use of activist government for conservative ends leaves in place a government perfectly capable of activist liberal government when conservatives lose.

The only way to fully turn the tide of big government is therefore to support someone who is willing to scale back government. Unfortunately, the only candidate with both an agenda to significantly cut government and a record of actually doing so is the flawed candidate from Texas with a campaign no one can be proud of.

But can he win? Yes. And should he stay in? Absolutely. If Rick Perry leaves, conservatives who want Washington out of their lives will have fully ceded the field to other men, mostly conservative, who are not as committed to the idea of “making Washington as inconsequential in our lives as possible.”

What would it take though to get voters to look at Perry again? I think the only way he can go forward is to have a full throated and honest reboot of his campaign. To do that, he must clean house with a full on purge of his political and communications staff.

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