The Wrong Approach

In this Corner article, Andrew Stuttaford says regarding sanctity of marriage, “but to believe that it will be a vote winner for much longer, well . . .”

I think that is wrong-headed.  Conservatives shouldn’t “choose” issues to attract voters.  Conservatives (and hopefully, Republicans) shouldn’t be like liberals/Democrats, i.e., trying to buy single-issues with campaign promises.

In fact, I don’t think Conservatives and the Republican Party should seek out anything, or hammer out anything, or choose anything.

Now is the time for Conservatives to work hard to come to agreement on issues.  There’s really no such thing as a Pro-Life Democrat, right?  So why do we have Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Republicans?  Let’s discuss it.  Let’s have it out.  We supposedly champion Free Markets in general and the Free Market of Ideas in specific…so, well, let’s let the Free Market of Ideas work.  Drop the emotionalism and hammer out exactly what Conservatives think about abortion, homosexual marriage, taxes, earmarks, immigration, race preferences, vouchers, etc.

We don’t need to enforce party discipline, nor do we need to embrace RINOs for some quixotic quest for power.  We aren’t supposed to be about power, we’re supposed to be about being right and being persuasive.  Stop triangulating, start persuading.

I have excellent reasons for believing that homosexuality is a choice.  I have excellent reasons for believing that abortion should be between that person and God (or their conscience, for atheists).

Here’s a sample of the latter:

It is killing, but of a different sort.  That’s one of the reasons why I favor RU-486, because from start to finish, it is on the woman who wants to abort, it doesn’t involve a doctor, or force interns to learn how to give abortions.  The liberals are right that we shouldn’t be judging or forcing a woman to face circumstances she refuses to face.  The consequences on her soul, her emotional state, her being are hers alone.

I have reasons for opposing gay marriage completely separate from the stupid strawman trotted out by social liberals of, “gay marriage doesn’t affect my marriage” and other such nonsense.  This is a discussion Conservatives/Republicans need to be having.  And at some point one side will be convinced.  Of they aren’t, then the minorty view can split off.  Or if Republicans are permanently marginalized by being anti-abortion (which I don’t think they would be), they can de-emphasize it as an issue.

We can be big tent, in that we should develop our core values through debate, and any who consider those core values important is welcome to join in.   But you change your agenda to fit the Conservative agenda, not the other way around.  That’s how we lost power, I think: too many people joined the Conservative movement and tried to erode it from within, with nice little things like no longer caring about fiscal responsibility in Congress, which is one of the most central of our core beliefs.  Betray that (and many did), and you have no point in calling yourself a Conservative, no?

So let’s have that debate, and not let moderates or extremists assume they have any lock on any part of the platform.

Let’s have it out.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Wrong Approach

  1. Cory Howe

    Both of the 2 major parties spend too much time adjusting their views to get votes. Our system is flawed. I wish we didn’t have any parties, only candidates who we could decide on based on their personal values. I will admit I prejudiced by the fact that my own values don’t fit in with the major parties, I lean towards Libertarian. This doesn’t mean that if Libertarians were a major party I would be satisfied. I want something more open, I want a way for real ideas and values to be introduced. Whether they are conservative, liberal or other. I don’t have a plan for how this would work, and I’m unsure if it is even possible but I can dream right.

  2. Morgan

    I agree with much of what you’ve said here, but note:

    http://www.democratsforlife.org/

    There must be room for individual disagreement within political parties, even on so-called “key” issues. As long as we’re locked into a two party system, people must vote for the party that best represents the majority of their beliefs.

  3. chiefmuser

    @morgan,
    Hmmm, I should have specified “pro-life Democrat politician“, except Kucinich was one…until he ran for President, and was pressured by the Democratic Party to change his stance to at mildly pro-choice.

    I don’t think anyone should ever be kicked out of a party for disagreeing with with the party platform. For instance, Democrats for Life must face the fact that they are never going to get pro-life legislation out of Democrat politicians. Just look at the hate levied on Gov. Palin because she’s everything a feminist would admire and point to as an example of feminist success except for two things: she’s Republican, and she’s pro-life. So no Democratic Party politician can sponsor or support pro-life legislation without risking losing the feminist vote. They’d rather embrace a serial sexual predator than accept a pro-life politician. So any pro-life Democrat voter has to decide what, exactly, is important to them. If it is enough to curb some of the more extreme pro-choice measures like “partial birth abortion”, or if other social programs are enough even to satisfy the voter even if no pro-life legislation will ever be allowed in the Democratic party, well then, the voter will probably stay.

    I just think of the Democratic Party as the Big Tent of Single Issue voters. The Democrats seek and find single issues that certain people feel strongly enough about that they will support a host of other things to their disadvantage as long as they get that issue. Whereas I think of Republicans as a set of ideals of lesser and greater importance, and most voters are in agreement with almost all of them, with that agreement coming through discussion and persuasion.

    Most Democrats deride Republicans as “marching in lockstep”, groupthink, getting marching orders from the Republican fax machine, etc., and Democrats once tried to emulate the Republican politicians’ ability to stay on message.
    Well, that’s because Republicans all understand conservative principles, and can articulate them based on internal understanding. It seems like groupthink, but is actually agreement arrived at from independent thought.

    Interestingly, it seems to me as if Republicans have ideology in common, but are scattershot and splintered over strategy to win elections. But Democrats have strategy to win elections in common, but are splintered and chaotic over ideology.
    As a result, you see gays and blacks at war because blacks support Democrats to get affirmative action, even though they are social conservatives, and gays supporting Democrats to try to get gay marriage.
    And the seeds of Republican losses this year were because social conservative Republicans and socially liberal Republicans never resolved their differences. What united Republicans was the ideal of lower taxes (2000) and strong national defense (2002 and 2004). Once those issues became less vital to people, the Republican coalition started dissolving, and we lost the election. And the war has now begun between Democratic factions all demanding that Obama’s separate promises to each group be carried out (a near-impossibility).

    I just think Republican values of pro-life, low tax, strong national defense, gun ownership rights, and conservative morality is based on sound principles, and people can be persuaded to accept those principles through discussion that leads to understanding.
    We still need to come to an agreement on immigration, and school vouchers.
    I’m out of the Conservative mainstream because I believe RU-486 is okay. But I’m open to being convinced otherwise, and I’m likewise able to persuade people to see things my way (I’ve persuaded a few before, but not many). If discussions like this are carried out often in the next few years, we will find ways to solidify our platform and articulate our vision clearly enough to regain a majority of voters. Not by promising stuff to disparate groups, but by establishing a standard that all like-minded people can rally around.

    I think Conservatives will regain the upper hand because there is so much movement in Conservative directions on things like gun rights, race issues, and abortion. The 60s movement that fueled most of Democrat power over the last 3 decades will die out. And while it has usually been said at least partly in jest, the Roe effect is probably more real than Democrats want to face: since political values are most often passed from parent to child, Democrats have aborted away a significant portion of their next generation of voters/leaders.
    Sheesh, this should be a separate post.

  4. Morgan

    Thanks for the lengthy response. Your opinions are reasoned and well-stated. Clearly after a loss, the Republicans need to “circle the wagons,” and strongly reconsider their platform and election strategies. However, as something of a moderate myself, I guess I worry that heading far to the right of center isn’t the answer either. Listening to the conservative media pundits (Limbaugh, Hannity, et cetera), they’re all decrying the party’s slow decline into liberalism, and stating conclusively that jumps to fundamental conservatism are the answer. In other words, if the Republicans had been truly conservative from the beginning, instead of choosing a moderate “maverick” candidate, they would have won this (these) election(s). I guess I don’t believe this. After all, wasn’t it the GOP who chose McCain? It’s not like we let the Democrats come in and pick a candidate for them.

    Maybe I’m out of touch, but I feel that the bulk of the country is like me — moderate. We might disagree on which issues we are moderate about, but my (admittedly anecdotal) experience is that few of us are truly waaaaaay to the right or waaaaaay to the left. Is it reasonable to assume that an extremely conservative candidate would have drawn away enough of Obama’s votes to win? I just don’t buy it. There might have been a couple of conservatives who jumped ship in favor of BHO — perhaps as a protest of some sort — but I sincerely doubt that it would have been enough to turn the tide. I think most of them just held their proverbial noses, and pushed the button for McCain.

    On a side note, I’m also *really* tired of the misstatements, unrealistic promises, one-sided spin and flat-out lies that we get from both parties. My head threatens to explode weekly. But that is probably a rant for a different day…

    I want a viable third-option. But like Corey said in his comment, I guess I’m probably dreaming.

    BTW – happy belated Veteran’s Day. My family and I thank you for your service on behalf of the country.

  5. chiefmuser

    Hmmm…
    Yeah, I can’t insist that a hard tack to the right is a sure-fire way to get more people voting Republican. Even though I’m pretty much at the point of the spectrum that the mainstream news media would say is “Extreme Right-Wing”, I don’t think there should be a deliberate move in my direction. (And even though I self-identify being at that point of the spectrum, I would probably surprise most people by detailing the extent and limits of my policy objectives: I want gays to be able to serve openly in the military, I approve of RU-486, I look at people according to the nature of their character rather than the color of their skin, etc).

    But I do think that if President Bush the Elder had kept his promise to not raise taxes, the 1992 election might have been different. Sure, it’s ironic that Democrats hammered him for raising taxes, but it worked. Perot wouldn’t have had a chance to draw votes away from President Bush the Elder if Republicans had maintained fiscal responsibility.

    I also think if the press had fully investigated and publicized President-elect Obama’s views on abortion and gun control, the election would have been much, much closer (if not an outright McCain win).

    I also think that if Republican congressmen would have followed our political ideals and NOT gotten fat and happy on earmarks, if they had lowered spending so the Democrats couldn’t hammer Republicans on the deficit, if we had honorable Republicans of high character in office who wouldn’t engage in inethical behavior (because the mainstream news media absolutely gives 3x the attention to Republicans Behaving Badly than they do Democrats Behaving Badly).

    I guess my bottom line is not that the Republican Party should *not* move away from moderate positions like yours just to move rightward. I think that people like you and me should sit down over beers until we come to an agreement over what IS important to the Republican Party, what IS central to being a Conservative, and once we identify the most important issues, then we continue to drink and talk until we come to an agreement.

    Abortion isn’t going to be an important political issue forever. Should it stay central to our party’s ideology? When should it no longer be central? (answer: when Roe v. Wade is overturned and after it gets kicked back to individual states and they resolve it solidly)

    Or perhaps a better example:
    Now that Obama has been elected President, maybe Justice O’Conner’s notion that racial preferences will no longer be needed someday has now been achieved, and we can slowly dismantle all the federal, state, and local legislation supporting that (like the anti-sodomy laws have slowly been dismantled).
    Thus, I’m hopeful that racial quotas can be eliminated from our nation’s laws within a decade or so, and that should help Republicans to demonstrate that skin color doesn’t really matter (Keyes, Steele, Rice, Thomas, Powell, Watts, Swann, et al, already having demonstrated that) and within a generation the white supremacists, already marginalized almost out of the Republican Party, should feel they have zero connection with Republican Party interests. That would be a step towards Moderate, no? But a step in agreement, by realizing we no longer need to campaign on ending affirmative action because we have a national consensus on it.

    There is still disagreement on Immigration, too. Since liberals favor open borders, the Moderate Republican stance is broad amnesty, the Extreme Right-Wing stance is closed borders with no one new allowed in (I don’t know anyone close to this view). The non-CEO Conservative view seems to be: we have rules, and you shouldn’t:
    1) reward people for breaking rules
    2) give illegal immigrants a better deal than citizens
    3) give illegal immigrants voting rights (through fraud) or de facto socio-political power to change our nation

    But you know what? I’ll bet there are plent of “Moderates” and “Liberals” who agree with that. So Conservatives within the Republican Party need to sit down and discuss until we have an agreement over what the Republican stance should be, exactly. Not chosen in order to maximize votes, but arrived at based on both what’s right and what works.

    We shouldn’t allow illegal immigration so that we can have cheap lawn care and cheap lettuce.
    We should follow the rules we have. If we can’t, we should change the rules. There is a signficant impact on our society from people who refuse to assimilate and/or the criminal element from Mexico that finds succor in our “Sanctuary” cities… I’d wager that with enough smart people sitting down and considering it, we’d come up with a good, workable answer; and that good, workable answer would resonate and persuade, and then immigration would no longer be a Moderate or Hard-Core Right Wing issue, but rather a Conservative one, with a Conservative solution that Republicans could adopt. And then for all voters who think immigration is more important than other issues, they can come vote for Republican candidates.

    Too long again, but that’s the way I see it.

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