The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The perils of purism

Yeaterday I ran a post about a column by Cal Thomas in that day's Washington Examiner which surprised me in that I often disagree with Thomas' columns, but found that particular column to be totally in accordance with my thinking. Today I'm also posting about a column in the Examiner, but while I am just as much in agreement with today's column as I was with yesterday's, this time it causes no great surprise, because the column is by Noemie Emery, whose posts I usually find make a lot of sense to me. As it happens, it says much the same thing as a remark in Thomas' column in yesterday's paper:

If the Republican “tent” isn't large enough for Chris Christie, then it will resemble a pup tent for some time to come.


Emery's column is entitled, “Conservative crisis management.” At the beginning of the column, she says:

When in a hole, keep right on digging. That's the attitude of a number of movement conservatives, who, in reaction to last year's shellacking, seem to want to make certain they never climb out.


And, addressing those conservatives, she makes the point (emphasis mine):

…don't complain about Republicans running the Bushes, John McCain, Bob Dole and Mitt Romney, when you run Alan Keyes, Pat Buchanan and Rick Santorum against them. If you want to win nominations, you might try running candidates. (And a better message might help matters, too.)


That's a powerful dig, but they deserve it. The fact is that most Americans are not far-right conservatives. If a conservative is to win their votes, he needs to be moderate enough to get the votes of people closer to the middle of the political spectrum, who would never support a Santorum. Which leads ino her next point:

check the urge to purge heretics, which died out long ago in most of the world. Movement conservatives now scourge their party's most popular governors. Yes, blue- and swing-state Republicans always enrage some conservatives; the problem is that conservatives need them if they want to become a national party. If they like to throw tantrums, they should keep on what they're doing. If not, they should throw them some slack.

Why? Andrew Cline explained this two years ago, just after Scott Brown, having thrilled conservatives by winning the seat of Ted Kennedy, enraged them with one of his first Senate votes. “Scott Brown does not represent the Republican National Committee in the United States Senate. He represents Massachusetts,” Cline said then, correctly. “If Scott Brown voted as though he were from Alabama, the voters of Massachusetts would send him there.”


The really important thing to note is what Emery says a little bit further along:

Chris Christie, with his Ralph Kramden vibe, is the closest thing they are likely to get in New Jersey — and, though conservatives would prefer a Reagan conservative, in those states this is not in the cards. Christie and Bob McDonnell represent their blue and swing states, not Utah or Texas, and the alternatives to them are not stronger conservatives.

The alternative to Olympia Snowe isn't Ted Cruz, it's Angus King, who votes with the Democrats. The alternative to Scott Brown isn't Rand Paul, it's Elizabeth Warren. We have Obamacare now because of the Club for Growth and Pat Toomey, whose primary threat scared Arlen Specter back to the Democrats, where he became the 60th vote for Obamacare's passage.


In other words, the far right's insistence on purity has driven the center of American politics leftward, hardly a desirable goal from their point of view.

I wish Noemie Emery's words could be read by the people who keep insisting on ideological purity.

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