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Monday, October 25, 2010

Pragmatism or Purity

"What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue the Constitution and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them ... a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers."  — James Madison

 "[T]he tea party is not a 'threat' to the Republican Party, the tea party saved the Republican Party. In a broad sense, the tea party rescued it from being the fat, unhappy, querulous creature it had become, a party that didn't remember anymore why it existed, or what its historical purpose was. The tea party, with its energy and earnestness, restored the GOP to itself. In a practical sense, the tea party saved the Republican Party in this cycle by not going third-party. It could have. The broadly based, locally autonomous movement seems to have made a rolling decision, group by group, to take part in Republican primaries and back Republican hopefuls. ... Because of this, because they did not go third-party, Nov. 2 is not going to be a disaster for the Republicans, but a triumph. The tea party did something the Republican establishment was incapable of doing: It got the party out from under George W. Bush. The tea party rejected his administration's spending, overreach and immigration proposals, among other items, and has become only too willing to say so. ... Finally, the tea party stiffened the GOP's spine by forcing it to recognize what it had not actually noticed, that we are a nation in crisis. The tea party famously has no party chiefs and no conventions but it does have a theme -- stop the spending, stop the sloth, incompetence and unneeded regulation -- and has lent it to the GOP." --columnist Peggy Noonan

Noonan continues; “And they not only freed the Washington establishment, they woke it up. That establishment composed largely of 50- to 75-year-olds who came to Washington during the Reagan era in a great rush of idealism, in many cases stayed on, as they say, not to do good but to do well. They populated a conservative infrastructure that barely existed when Reagan was coming up: the think tanks and PR groups, the media outlets and governmental organizations. They did not do what conservatives are supposed to do, which is finish their patriotic work and go home, taking the knowledge and sophistication derived from Washington and applying it to local problems. (This accounts in part for the esteem in which former Bush budget chief and current Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is held. He went home.)”

There are those who say that they will not vote for just any Republican, but they must past a litmus test for being a 100% conservative and constitutionalist. They say that the will vote for third party conservative candidate rather than a luke-warm right leaning Republican. In essence they will throw their vote away in the name of principle. While this sounds good it could spell disaster for the Republic.

In California I did not vote for either Republican candidate in the primary elections. This does not mean I will not support them in the general election. In my congressional district my Congresswoman, Mary Bono Mack, voted in favor of the 2008 Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which many conservatives begrudgingly supported and which was signed into law with similar enthusiasm by George W. Bush at the end of his second term, but against the Stimulus and Obama Care. I expressed my displeasure with her vote on TARP in an e-mail, as did many other residents of the district.

Her opponent is a very liberal Democrat who would vote in lock-step with Obama and the Democrat caucus. She is also opposed by Steve Pougent the Gay, Democrat mayor of Palm Springs and a third party conservative candidate. While outnumbered in registrations, the democrats are hoping the split in the vote will push Pougent over the top.

So here we have Mary Bono Mack with a two out three record for opposing major bills that conservatives oppose and a mayor who will vote in line with Feinstein, Boxer and the rest of the democrats. So do I vote for the conservative out of principle or support Mary Bono Mack out of pragmatism? It’s analogous to a World Series game where, in the ninth inning your team is down three games to one. You don't have a guy who's batting 1.000, so you pass over the one batting .667 to pick the guy batting .000?

A conservative purist would argue that the government should have no role in the regulation of free enterprise other than ensuring the exercise thereof, and that the economy, if left to its own devices, is self-regulating, and that self-regulation is the most efficient means to achieve economic prosperity. In the case of TARP, the purist objects to the intervention, and if the economy collapses as a result, the notion is that it will eventually recover and be stronger for what it was allowed to endure.

The conservative pragmatist, on the other hand, while concurring with the academic principles held by the purist, understands the consequences of the purist's position, and weighs that outcome against the consequences of striking a compromise. Thus, the pragmatist holds his nose and votes for TARP, understanding that averting an unprecedented economic collapse is more important than upholding an academic principle.

The point is not so much which Republican gets elected; it’s that a Republican gets elected. So much rides on the Republicans gaining control of the Congress and state houses. It is in Congress where Committee Chairmanships are decided by the majority party, These Chairs will decide which bills are accepted, what the budget will fund or not fund and how nominations for judges are dealt with. We may have one or two more Supreme Court Justices to consider in the next two years and a Democrat controlled Senate would be a disaster.

The question that arises is, will the Republicans, when elected, remain true to the people who worked so hard to rout the statists from Congress and the state houses?

I have to put my trust in the Tea Party. With so many conservative Americans involved in the Tea Party movement all across the land I believe they will keep the pressure on Congress for the next two years, especially if they have success in November. They will feel their muscle and keep pushing on the Republicans. The newly elected Republicans will feel the heat and know that if they try to go along to get along in two years they will be challenged by the same folks who got them to Washington or the state house.

I am sure that the Tea Party, conservative talk radio, blogs and web sites will keep the pressure on these Republicans to turn this Republic in another direction. It will not be done in one term or two terms or three terms. It took a long time for us to get in this mess and it’s going to take constant pressure from the right to turn the ship of state.

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