October 20, 2006

The Intraconservative Debate Kicks into Gear

Justin Katz

Over in the Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez takes up the call of pro-Republican conservatives:

You'd just be a punk (I'm just borrowing Mona's reader's word ) if you actually care about issues like activist judges, abortion (today there is still not a ban on partial-birth abortion, still held up in court), marriage, but stay home on Election Day. ...

Yes, earmarks suck. And I'm not defending Republican congressional performance across the board by any stretch. But not only are we at war but we have core domestic societal issues that are not going away. Don't expect matters to get better under Democratic leadership. Don't kid yourself about the impact of staying home or protest voting. As Mona notes, largescale Republican losses will not be interpreted as simply conservative frustration over spending (and Internet gambling?).

Perhaps it is indicative of time's acceleration as I age, but I simply can't rev myself to feel as if a two-year, or even four-year, or even six-year election cycle is of dire consequence. With the War on Terror, Social Security, Immigration, and the whole slate of Culture War issues, the best we can hope for — the best we should hope for, especially when the "we" is conservatives — is gradual, long-term change. Democrat victories will not be decisive on any of these matters, but continued Republican control will arguably be dilatory. It is a legitimate, and as-yet unrebutted, conclusion among conservatives that a short-term loss may be in our long-term interests.

I say "unrebutted," but Lopez and Mona Charon do make allusion. Here's Charon, from a post with the telling title "But What Will the Pundits Say Later?":

And yet, of course, though many bitter conservatives may do just that, the post-election analysis — assuming a big Democratic win — will be "rejection of the Iraq War," push back against Bush's war on civil liberties, blah, blah. Few will interpret the results to mean Republicans and the Bush White House disappointed the base by failing to hold the line on earmarks.

Personally, I'm much less concerned about what the pundits will say than what the Republicans will believe, and I think they're much too shrewd to miss the effect of party-base attrition. Circumstances may differ in other states, but in our home state of Rhode Island, a Chafee victory will stand as evidence that he does not need to court conservatives in order to win. A Chafee loss due to "bitter conservatives," however, will carry the lesson that, while Republicans may not win significantly in this state, they sure as Sheldon aren't going to without our votes.

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds provides further evidence that American bipartisan democracy has progressed from "least bad" voting to "least nauseating" voting:

As I mentioned before, the Republicans don't really deserve my vote -- though as Bob Corker hasn't been in Washington that's not really his fault -- but nonetheless the Democrats have blown it again. Not long ago I was thinking that a Democratic majority in Congress wouldn't be so bad; but the sexual McCarthyism from the pro-outing crowd, coupled with the Dems' steadfast refusal to offer anything useful on national security, has convinced me that they just don't deserve a victory with those tactics. That's not Ford's fault, either, really. But I just don't think the Democrats are ready for a majority right now. We'll see how many other voters agree.

Writing from the land of Chafee/Whitehouse, I have to admit a certain envy of those choosing between Corker and Ford. However, perhaps it is because I believe our Democrat in the race would be so spectacularly uninspiring that I'm inclined to respond to Reynolds' opinion that "the Democrats are [not] ready for a majority right now" by saying, "exactly."

The healthiest outcome, of course, would be for the Democrats to undermine the Republicans' ability to stray so far toward political self-interest by returning to representative sanity. That the Democrats actually appear to moving away from this wide open field, running the political race with two left feet, as it were, suggests that their understanding of the current landscape — of the world, of reality — is fundamentally flawed. Given the long-term nature of just about every issue currently facing us, I'm not sure it wouldn't be worth letting them drive for a few years in order to inspire more sober minds to refocus.

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The bigoted right-wing homophobes are going to get "beat like a drum" on november 7,2006 and again in 2008,Their mesage of fear,hate and 9-11..24/7 does not sell anymore.
The disaster in Iraq, will forever be their legacy

Posted by: JAYSON at October 20, 2006 11:12 PM

Yes, your tolerance and lack of hate come through loud and clear, Jayson.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 20, 2006 11:24 PM

Yeah Jayson, the Republicans are going to be brought to their knees.

Ooooh, no wonder you're so excited!

Posted by: Tom W at October 21, 2006 12:03 AM

Don't worry about the opinions of pinheads like that. We're all in this boat together, so if the country sinks, our liberal friends are going down along with us -- which is why we can't let it happen, because who'd want to be in a boat like that? He/it is evidentally under the impression that we give a rat's right rump what he "thinks."

As to the subject, the reason why I -- as a conservative -- cannot bring myself to vote for Chafee, is precisely because of the fearmongering that his unprincipled backers have engaged in. Basically, they have tried to convince us that the world will fall apart if Chafee loses, and that in the grand scheme of things, his one vote matters more than adherence to principle. I'm voting for senator, not playing a gigantic game of chess. If other conservatives can stomach voting for Chafee, and as a byproduct, invite future meddling ad infinitum by the national GOP in local races, so be it. I will not one of them. As painful as it might be to do it, and fully knowing the worst case scenerio, I will be casting a write-in vote. I'm simply not going to reward bad behavior.

Sometimes in order to win a wider war, you have to pick and choose where you fight your battles, and fight them on your own terms. I believe that the GOP may lose a few net seats, but will retain control of the Senate, regardless of the outcome of Chafee's race. Therefore, it simply is not going to be a factor in how I vote. You may have other criteria which you consider more important, and that's your right. The question that I ask myself is this: "if control of the Senate weren't a factor, how would I vote?"

Posted by: Will at October 21, 2006 12:56 AM

Wake up guys!
You can hate Linc Chafee's guts and you can think the Bush administration is the worst thing going and that's fine. Just understand the big picture and why it does matter who we elect and what party they belong to.
It wasn't Democrat Jack Reed who nominated Robert Corrente as U.S. Attorney for Rhode Island. Republican Lincoln Chafee did. Guys not every vote is about deep philosophical reasoning.
Sometimes it's simply a decision about what's best for my state.

Posted by: Tim at October 21, 2006 7:42 AM

Calling me a Pinhead is rude,

Posted by: jayson at October 21, 2006 11:19 AM

I might remind you that I spelled pinhead with a lowercase "p." Guess my intended point of irony didn't quite reach you over there in liberal land. I was trying to reflect back on the name-calling that you initiated (bigoted right-wing homophobes). Guess it worked.

I'll suggest a good adage: "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."

Posted by: Will at October 21, 2006 11:54 AM

I said "the right-wing homophobes" I did not call you one.I was speaking only to "right-wing homophobes"
Some Right-Wingers ARE NOT homophobes.

Posted by: Jayson at October 21, 2006 12:28 PM

I said "the right-wing homophobes" I did not call you one.I was speaking only to "right-wing homophobes"
Some Right-Wingers ARE NOT homophobes.

Posted by: Jayson at October 21, 2006 12:28 PM