The Intraconservative Debate Kicks into Gear
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.