I get a lot of questions from readers. Occasionally, I like to answer them.
“Hey, you got a piece published on Hot Air yesterday!” – That wasn’t really a “question”, but, well, yeah, I did, and thanks for noticing! My piece, “Top Ten Things You Should Do If You’re An “Anybody But Mitt” Republican”, And One You Should Not”, appeared in the Green Room, and Ed Morrissey was kind enough to promote it to the main page, where it got a ton of traffic and close to 500 comments between the two sites. And it turns out that a lot of commenters at Hot Air are pretty serious about their political purism!
“But it sounds like you’re a RINO!” – Er, what part of “I‘m caucusing for Santorum” did you miss? The point of the piece was, if you’re an anti-Romney Republican, the game isn’t over. There are a zillion caucuses and primaries and, by the way, a convention. Fight like hell! And if it so happens that Romney is the nominee, then fight for a conservative Congress – which, by the way, we’re more likely to get than a GOP President, as of a few weeks ago, according to InTrade. And a Republican Congress will be conservative. Perfect, no, but conservative yes. And that will encourage Romney to act like a conservative.
“Romney’s a flip-flopper. If he acts conservative to get elected, it won’t be honest” – If he “acts” conservative to get, and stay, elected, and manifests that acting by, say, governing as a conservative for four years, and “acts” conservative enough to get re-nominated and re-elected for four years, and continuing the “act” until the end of a second term highlighted by even more insincere conservative policies – including two or three utterly disingenuous nominations and confirmations of suitably conservative Supreme Court nominations and the completely insincere repeal of Obamacare and a two-faced cutting of federal spending – I’d be fine with that. Of course, he’d need a conservative Congress to make sure he stays
honest insincere. That’s our job.
“I’d rather teach the party a lesson!” – I may have it carved on my headstone; “Parties don’t learn lessons; they reflect the will of those who show up”. And they truly do.
“But Tim Pawlenty was a RINO, too!” – First, “RINO” has become a synonym for “Not as conservative as me”, whoever you are – and by that definition, most of you are RINOs. Sez me.
But secondly, and more importantly, that’s not the issue here. However Pawlenty governed, the fact is that had it not been for an uprising of conservatives in the party – people who showed up and bucked the status quo and imposed their will on the convention – he would have been worse.
I mean, you do remember 2002, right? Tim Pawlenty wasn’t nearly conservative enough for a fair chunk of the State Convention delegates. Eventually, he had to take the No New Taxes pledge. And he went on to govern for eight years, largely – not perfectly, but largely – as a conservative. Certainly better than any “Republican” we’d had in a few generations.
Did the MNGOP do that because they’d “learned the lesson” of Arne Carlson? Indirectly, maybe – but it was entirely because the people who did remember the Carlson years showed up and gave that lesson some teeth!
“Sounds like you’re trying to get us to accept the same old crap sandwich” – Chalk it up to my scandinavian heritage; to me, life is all about learning to make the best of “crap sandwiches”. Because life is mostly “crap sandwiches”, and the measure of a person is how they make those crap sandwiches not just edible, but tasty – and, maybe, once in your life, how they talk the cook into eating it herself. And it shows; my biggest heroes – Ernest Shackelton, Eddie Rickenbacker, Alexandr Pecherskiy and Stanislaus Schmajzner – are people whose greatest achievements in life were dealing with “crap sandwiches”, like being trapped on an antarctic ice floe without a radio, or floating at sea for three weeks in a tiny raft, or being stuck in a Nazi extermination camp. And – this is important – dealing with the “crap sandwich”. They ate seals and jury-rigged lifeboats to sail across stormy oceans, or they lived on minnows and a seagull and kept their spirits up, or they made crude shivs and stole guns and killed their guards and lived in the forest until help arrived; they did not say “I’m going to sit on the floe until real help arrives!”
And so – is Mitt Romney a “crap sandwich?” I’ll take a Romney nomination over being stuck in an extermination camp, yes.
Beyond that? Sure, I’d rather have a more-conservative nominee. That’s why I’m caucusing for Santorum on Tuesday – to try to avert the “crap sandwich“. And if Romney truly is inevitable? Then we do like we did with Pawlenty; push him to the right by whatever means we have available to us. And if we’re good, and if we show up, and keep our will strong, and do the blocking and tackling right, it’ll work. Not perfectly, but well-enough.
“But I’d rather vote with my principles” – Well, good! So would I! That’s why, again, I’m not caucusing for Romney this time.
But for me, the most important principle – after “honor God” and “take care of my family”, both of which have political implications as well – is “do what’s best for the Unites States of America and for government of, by and for The People”. And Barack Obama is the worst President of my lifetime (and I survived Jimmy Carter), and maybe one of the worst in history, and that is largely because he and his party are corroding democracy and marginalizing this nation, ensuring that my children and grandchildren are going to get a…what?
You got it!
So my first principle is to help, or at least mitigate the harm to, America and Democracy. Then we can talk about principles of governance.
“Sounds like you’re an incrementalist!” – Duh! No kidding! That’s because in a democracy, all improvement is incremental – unless your opponents completely fail to show up! As long as you have people who oppose you via democratic means, any improvement you get will always be incremental – in Congress, in Saint Paul, and even in the GOP, if your part of the GOP is contested.
And if MItt Romney is the nominee, and he’s an incremental improvement? I’ll take an incremental improvement over excremental decay, every time. Partly because in the real world, incremental improvements are all you get! You never, ever get revolutionary improvements! And partly because I think that with a conservative Congress (backed by a conservative majority that stays engaged, unlike 1994) will be a big incremental improvement, which is better than a small one, and much better than excremental decay.
“Appearing on KFAI? Talking with people from American Public Media? Reading Leftybloggers? You’re not going all wobbly – or turning into a RINO – are you? – Pfft. I’m still more conservative than you, whoever you are. Look – we have to try to run a civil society. That means trying to talk with and understand – and co-opt, convince and of course defeat via democratic means – the other side is vital to having a “civil society”. And yes, the other side is full of crass, vulgar people (and, I stress, plenty who are not) who see themselves in control and don’t feel the need to dialog with people they regard as their inferiors, from the Minnesota Progressive Project all the way up to National Public Radio’s executive board. That’s fine, and it’s their choice, but for my part, I believe that if society doesn’t at least try to get along and play nice, the eventual alternative is civil war – which on the one hand doesn’t bother me, since our side has most of the guns and their people with guns all use the John Woo grip, but on the other hand does bother me because civil wars are noisy and unproductive, and I’d rather stick with dialog.
“Aren’t you worried some leftyblogger is going to take that “Civil War” comment out of context?” – Twin Cities leftybloggers take comments about going shopping out of context. Shall one live in fear of what ones’ petty detractors will say, or shall one just live? I say live. And give the leftybloggers a break; if they couldn’t write about things out of context, they’d have to focus on their jobs.
That’ll do for now.