The Problem with Purism

Deciding to vote for a Republican or Democrat is like deciding between a shelter and a hurricane.

Republican voters clearly prefer the stability and cover of a shelter. They wisely fear the innovations of Democrats who want to expand the power of government for the supposedly greater good. They do not buy the progressive response that disagreeing with the liberal agenda equates to hating victims. Most Republican voters simply want to worship, do business, and speak their minds in peace.

For their part, Republican politicians usually promise these very things and not much more. In terms of shelter, some work better than others. Moderate Republicans are like the rickety shacks that often blow over during a storm. If they hold together, even for a light wind (like confirming a clearly innocent judge, or voting for beneficial tax cuts), voters are happy. More purist Republicans are like miniature underground bomb shelters. They weather every storm, but they’re not much use to people because they are hidden and cannot accommodate many people.

Democratic politicians, on the other hand, are like hurricanes of varying strengths. Their supporters appreciate their destructive potential because they stand to gain from it. They largely see themselves as victims, even the most privileged of them, and feel entitled to restitution, if not retribution.

Like their Republican counterparts, Democratic hurricanes vary in intensity. Moderate Democrats (a currently dwindling group) are a light rain. If called to account, they recite liberal bromides and do little else than vote with their party, regardless of the issue or the truth. More extreme Democrats promise to shake down the whole system, to blow down every shelter and wipe the land clean in order to make the progressive a reality.

Then there are the non-binary voters who want to express their disgust at both the shabby shelters and violent hurricanes. They either vote for a write-in candidate or a hopeless third-party idealist or else they don’t vote at all. They bury their heads in the sand and comfort themselves with the thought that if everyone followed their example, no one would worry about storms or shelters. They think they are above politics, but they’re usually under it by letting others decide the fate of the country.

But why bring up this analogy of shelters and hurricanes when people have long concluded that elections always come down to “picking the lesser of two evils”? Because they are different: the analogy suggests a difference in kind while the latter maxim suggests a difference in degree. Republicans and Democrats have not been on the same spectrum for some time now. Democrats have moved so far off the spectrum that they have more in common with the socialist parties in Europe than anything American. They’ve abandoned the Constitution and its freedoms and adopted a list of populist demands and the requisite threats that come with them. Democrats are not rivals with Republicans trying to solve America’s problems; they themselves are the problem.

Many conservatives have expressed dismay over Republicans’ failure to repeal ObamaCare, to defund Planned Parenthood, to reform immigration law, and to act civilly (because Trump). They will even argue that it’s better for voters to vote for a third party or even the Democrats to teach those feckless Republicans a lesson. Predictably, media outlets have amplified these arguments in order to discourage conservatives from voting.

For some reason, these same critics fail to acknowledge that all these problems originate with Democrats. Voting for Democrats, or permitting them to win by not voting Republican, only adds to these problems. With more Democrats to deal with, the Republicans still in office will be weaker and less effective. Those voters holding out for more principled conservative candidates will continue waiting because they just enabled the very system that punishes principled conservatives. Meanwhile, Democrats will do their best to blow the whole structure down.

Therefore, it is incumbent on conservatives to support their party and vote Republican. With a stronger majority, Republican will not have to water down their bills to meet the demands of milquetoast moderates like Lisa Murkowski or Susan Collins. They could come up with different solutions for things like the federal debt, illegal immigration, state rights, or Big Tech monopolies instead of debating the merits of doing anything in the first place. In short, they could do their jobs. They could finally compete in helping America thrive, not struggle to keep their careers alive.

The cynics who believe democracy is doomed are wrong. It is possible for it to actually work. States that vote Republican can attest to this: they aren’t in debt; they oppose boondoggles like ObamaCare and Common Core; they haven’t indulged in the identity politics of other states; and are growing rapidly. In these states, politicians compete within conservatism, trying to out-freedom and cut more taxes than the other guy.

By contrast, blue states are deep in debt, continually begging for bailouts, have high rates of crime and homelessness, and are losing people. Their politicians compete in how much free stuff they can promise and how many rich people they take down. Republicans don’t even bother with these states anymore, resulting in Democratic senators and congressmen who increasingly are untethered to reality.

As it stands, the mix of red and blue at the federal level seems more likely to give voters the worst of both worlds. Each party blames the other for its failures, and it’s hard to disagree with either of them -- the shelters would stay up if not for the hurricane, and the land would be wiped clean if not for the shelters. If conservatives hope to drain the swamp and retake the culture, they can only do this by winning more elections. 

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