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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cumulative compromise

This morning, while listening to Allman in the Morning Show on 97.1 FM, Dr. Randy Tobler offered the following dilemma:
So do we vote our principles and nominate a hard right candidate, taking the chance that Obama might be elected again? We know that another four years of Obama's policies could possibly do irreparable damage to the Republic. But we also know that another four years of Obama's policies is likely to drive the nation much more solidly toward the right.
Or do we attempt to stop the bleeding any way that we can, and nominate a moderate. Do we compromise principle in order to keep things from getting worse?
That question, the same question that many Republicans and Conservatives (keep in mind, they are not always the same thing) are currently kicking around, seriously irks me. It irks me because it is a question we should never have to answer. It is a question we should never have to ask. But we have several problems that make that question an unfortunate necessity.

First, a precedent has been set - particularly within the Republican Party itself. They repeatedly offer up nominees who are deemed "electable" rather than principled. The true brilliance of this plan is showcased in the fact that once those people get elected (the ones chosen specifically on the basis of their moderate views), the party at large expects them to suddenly grow a conscience and principles - to the point of becoming angry with them when they (predictably) stray from a hard line conservative agenda.

Second, conservatives electing moderates also make it far easier for liberals to elect those on the far left. Why? Because Americans expect a little opposition in their politics. If the Republican candidate is a moderate, the Democrats have to provide the opposition. They cannot effectively do so with another moderate (a duel between vanilla and french vanilla is hardly a contest that will keep the spectators interested). Thus the more moderate the Republican candidates become, the easier it becomes for far leftists to be propelled into office wearing "moderate" labels.

So instead of standing on our beliefs, we allow ourselves to be convinced that a vote for the hard right is ultimately a vote for the opposition. But when we buy into that mentality, we aren't just compromising our beliefs - we are facilitating a society that rewards mediocrity instead of striving for excellence. We lower our standards to fit the given candidates rather than demanding that a candidate measure up to our standards. We are accepting the best that we think we can get rather than accepting nothing but the best.

The real problem lies in the fact that the overall effects are cumulative. Every time we compromise just one principle on the altar of electability, we lower the bar for the next moderate who enters the field. We blame the culture, we blame the liberals, we blame the influence of a left-leaning media - but much of the blame for the leftward slide of the Republic can be placed firmly on the shoulders of conservatives who are more concerned with the number of "R's" than with what each individual "R" really stands for.

Conservatives, for these reasons, have become resigned to the idea that in every election cycle we will be reduced to voting for the lesser of two evils. In order to get out of this rut, our only escape is to purge the evil from within our own ranks. This is not possible until we become willing to cede a single battle in order to win the war.

That is why, when faced with the panel of possible 2012 Presidential nominees, I do not ask "Which of these is best?" Instead, I ask (as should we all), "Are these the best we can do?"


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