Monday, January 18, 2010

Purity or Compromise

I had a very interesting, very provocative article sent to me, covering the political suicide that is ideological purity. Check this out, on Frum Forum:

One thing political parties and partisans seem never to learn: the purer you are, the more you lose.

The divisions of Red and Green parties in ancient Rome, where heads literally rolled, have manifested themselves in the blog beheadings by the two greatest proponents of purity in American politics today: the “progressive” left of the Democratic Party and the “purifier” forces in the Republican Party. So far, the great achievements of these two forces has been two-fold: the Progressives have been able to help President Obama’s approval ratings tank; and, the Republican purists have been able to facilitate the Republican loss of the 23rd House District of New York and help push Sen. Arlen Specter over to the Democratic Party. But, and the Club for Growth have so much more work to do. After all, the theological nature of these two groups demands that they drive out apostasy even if it means that they defeat the very policies they purport to support.

For a tidy case in point, check out this urgent article on the need for Massachusetts progressives to defeat Coakley:
It is very important that progressives help defeat Coakley. Please read my explanation. The more power the folks in the Democratic Corporate Suck Up wing of the party gain, the more we will have to fight to make the party move to the left. I do not think that many progressive Democrats understand that putting such people as Coakley into power is worse than having a Republican in the seat. Just being in the Democratic Party does not and will not ensure a progressive agenda. Do you not see that? So, if you get her into the seat, what makes you think she will be any better than Lincoln, or Nelson, or Lieberman! It will, in fact, ensure that there will be NO progressive agenda. It was not the Republicans who failed us of late. It was the Democrats. We will never succeed as long as the Dem’s can talk liberal and vote corporate.

One lesson I learned by observation was that when politics becomes an all or nothing game, you are bound to get nothing. At the same time, look at Ron Paul. He ran a very ideologically pure campaign, and sparked great interest. Maybe not votes in the primaries, but a real following, and a development of his ideas. Barry Goldwater didn't win in 1964, but he set the stage. Etc. If some of Paul's bills advance and are passed, that marks a win for purity. For now...

In my own case, I consider myself a fairly radical libertarian. This may shock some of the folks who declined to back my campaign in 2006 on the basis of my running as a moderate Libertarian. That was my campaign strategy. All or nothing? I wasn't in it for nothing.

I also learned a lot from observing Ted Kennedy. He never came out and declared himself a socialist, although I believe that is exactly what he was. He always called for ever more incremental movements in his direction. Damned if he really didn't take tremendous gains over the life of his Senate career.

Going back to the Frum article, there are a few things I take issue with. Calling Ronald Reagan a libertarian? Check his war record as President and then get back to me. (Oh, was I being too pure there?) Then this:
If we were to scratch most of the Tea Party protesters, we would probably find just as many libertarians as social conservatives, if not more. Indeed, the battle within the GOP won't be among so-called moderates, social conservatives, and populists. The real battle will be between the pro-Ayn Rand Club for Growth (which supports the right of any banker in New York City to make any amount of money he or she can) and the populist Tea Party gang (which wants to hang every banker in New York City). The present marriage of convenience between these two forces cannot last. Can one imagine a true Tea Party member supporting the right of Goldman Sachs' employees to make as much money as they can, regardless of the consequences to society? Or the Club for Growth insisting that their members absolutely condemn abortion in any circumstance?

It's a lot grayer than that. I reckon there are a lot of Tea Party folks who don't care how much bankers make, but care deeply about how much money Congress throws to the banks. They surely do react to the bonuses that come out of public largess, but if those bonuses were private money, many (most?) wouldn't fuss a whit. Also, many of the staunchest anti-abortion social conservatives reserve judgment on abortion in the cases of rape and incest.

The bulk of the article rings true to me, but sadly. The sad thing really, is that it points to more of this Bush-Obama morph, running to the center on no ideology at all, but the mere expedience of the moment which consists little more than of sticking one's finger in the air to see which way the wind blows. That ain't leadership. Look at what it's doing to us with this corporatist war-state.

(Big h/t to Wainstead!)


varangianguard said...

Ideological "purists" likely find a fertile breeding ground here in the land of slating conventions.

Nothing like having someone think that he/she is the purveyor of the one and only dogma of truth.

Besides being classic cases of NPD (Narciscisstic Personality Disordered) individuals, they also seem to be politically agoraphobic (i.e., afraid of the Big Tent).

Al said...

I'm not a big fan of Frum. I did like his book about his time working as one of Bush's speechwriters. He takes credit for the axis of evil phrase.

That said, I am not a fan of Michael Steele as such. He is a weak party leader who seems to step into more than not. I supported Ken Blackwell.

The loss of Arlen Specter, give me a break! I usually give somewhat a pass to Olympia Snowe because she maybe as good as it gets out of a state like Maine.
But even if Specter remained in the party, I do not doubt he'd voted with the Dems giving them a virtual 60 anyway. If fact, if Specter was still a "republican" it'd allow the MSM to portray the bi-partisan nature of the bill.

I don't have the answer to how to fix the party except with integrity.
By that I mean:
Talk and vote the same. The words and record match.
Conservative: Limit the reach of the national government, reduce the central government's power over the states.
Cut spending but not just at the margins reduce so called entitlements(why in the hell is anyone entitled to tax money?!).
Strong defense with an emphasis on going on the offense against Islamic terrorist and their sponsors.
Tax Reform: end the progressive nature of the income tax and make it more flat and lower over all.
End tax on businesses.
End taxation as social engineering.

I try to take the Ronald Reagan approach that 70% for you is better than
nothing. But some percentages are just not worth swallowing hard for.
There are some issues compromise is a non-starter.
And voting your conscience must be within the bounds of the constitution.

sheri said...

Al, Al, Al. Ken Blackwell? Jerry Springer's buddy from his days on Cincinnati City Council? (I'm from the Queen City, and in the '70s, about any time you'd see one, you'd see the other. Well, other than the times Jerry was chatting up the college girls in the bars...but I digress.)Blackwell's ridiculously biased behavior as Ohio Secretary of State, where he discounted ballot-access signatures on types of paper and other things that were not in the law, makes him too heinous to consider.

I left the GOP because there was nowhere left for socially tolerant folks like myself. I grew up around what we called artist Republicans. They were fiscally conservative for simple reasons: What little money they had was tied up in art supplies and hooch. The socially conservative right has no respect for generations-deep Republicans like my family. One by one, we left.

Reform is impossible because the status quo works for the old party machine and its cronies. And that goes for both the Democrats and the Republicans. Both parties must go.

Al said...

Hi Sheri,

Yes, Ken Blackwell. I’d have to confess that I was being a homer by supporting and wanting him as party leader. And Steele is completely dumbfounded by the grassroots TEA Party and other groups who descended on DC last September with me.

As SoS he tried to prevent voter fraud by not permitting those who claimed they did not know where their polling place was to just vote. They had to use a provisional ballot requiring more scrutiny before being counted. How obscene.

And why is it wrong or illegal to require an ID.

And because of his deft handling of the Marriage Amendment on the ballot in ’04, he helped President Bush’s reelection in Ohio. Taft was a huge drag and this amendment added to the energy of the reelection campaign.

Ohio was to be the new Florida in ’04. It wasn’t and partly due to Blackwell and partly due to the energized reelection campaign. I worked a phone bank during that time to get out the vote.

I don’t know what you mean by Socially Tolerant.