you can’t always get what you want

Conservatives should be wary of the idea that when they talk about, say, tax cuts and limited government – about things other than abortion, gay marriage, religion in the public square and similar issues – they are engaging in values-free discourse. And by ratifying the social conservatives’ monopoly of the label “values voters,” the media are furthering the fiction that these voters are somehow more morally awake than others.

george will

social conservatives have values that are shared by many people in this country, but they have to realize two things. first is that they will never get everything they want. legislating moral behavior to the degree that some of them are suggesting is impossible. the second thing they have to keep in mind is that they won’t do any better than they are doing now by voting for the democrats.

there’s nothing wrong with having absolute black and white positions on issues such as gay marriage and abortion. there’s also nothing wrong with saying that a political party would lose support from your group if it does not do what you tell it to do. the flaw in this strategy for groups like this is that they don’t consider the big picture very often. george w. bush may not be their perfect politician, and likewise the republicans may not be 100% hard-core as far as pressing their core issues.

however, there are not many alternatives for groups who see supporting life and opposing gay marriage as their core issues. where would these social conservatives go if they took back their support of the republican party? not to the current group of democrats, that’s for sure. we are talking about the party whose leadership is strongly in support of abortion, of gay marriage, and which also does not have a very comfortable relationship with the Christian community. as well as being out of step with the centrists in his own party, dnc chairman howard dean can’t seem to find much common ground with the rest of the country.

he opposes missouri’s voter id law, which requires voters to have a valid photo ID in order to vote. if he was really concerned about election fraud and people being disenfranchised, you would think that the democratic party would want to support this and other similar laws. this is another one of the many unpopular positions dr. dean has taken while representing the democratic party. even on the war in iraq, the american public doesn’t seem to agree that immediate withdrawal (whatever the current definition of that seems to be) is the right answer to what should be done about iraq.

dean’s attempts to reach out to the 700 club crowd have also fallen flat. that is because he lies about where the democrats are on social issues, and even goes as far as to claim that the democratic platform of 2004 supported the idea of “one man one woman” for marriage. it did not. dear howard, please stop before you hurt yourself. (I guess it’s too late for that warning, isn’t it?) if the centrists don’t like where howard dean is taking their party, then they had better take some serious action now, or they
are headed for another election defeat in ’06.

there is always the option for social conservatives, and for small-government conservatives, to take their ball and go home…that is to stay home on election day, possibly handing the congress over to the democrats. it is a tempting idea, but not because the republican majority hasn’t taken a hard enough line on abortion or the federal marriage amendment. the appeal lies with other areas where republicans haven’t lived up to the expectations we had for them when we elected them. one is spending. as i pointed out previously, these republicans aren’t fond of small government, and have demonstrated that quite well. even those who wish to make the attempt to reduce spending, such as mike pence, are brutally shot down.

the question is then: how do we reform the system? i don’t know if there is a way to significantly impact the process in washington and change the way it currently works. we hold politicians to a higher standard because they represent us, and we should. because i’m a conservative, i believe in personal accountability for everyone, and especially for those in DC representing me. unfortunately, a self-policing system will never provide the level of accountability that is necessary to keep our politicians on the straight and narrow.

that’s why it has become more important to stay engaged and to pay attention to what your representatives and senators are doing, and not just 6 months before an election. even if your congressman or senator is not in your political party, you still have a voice. you still can write letters, make phone calls, and bang on the door (figuratively, of course) until you get an answer.

accountability is not just about elections. it is also about citizens taking an active role and letting their representatives know where they stand on the issues currently being debated. look at what happened with the dubai ports deal. everybody got motivated to call DC and say “hey what the heck are you guys doing up there?” we need to do more of that. i think we are starting to pay more attention to issues, now that illegal immigration is front-and-center. that’s a good thing. i would like to believe that our voices are having some impact in this debate. we shall see what happens with this current immigration legislation in the house and in the senate.

the last word belongs to john hawkins:

Here’s my advice: set your emotions aside and think long and hard about what a Democratically controlled Congress would really mean. Is the satisfaction of, “teaching the Republicans a lesson,” worth the price? Think back to the Clinton years: conservatives certainly stuck it to Old “Read My Lips,” but the price turned out to be eight years of, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” In my book, that wasn’t such a great trade-off and keep in mind, when you’re talking about congressmen and senators, it could be worse. Incumbent politicians are tougher to get rid of than a cockroach infestation and 40 years from now, do you really want to be sitting around, remembering how you stayed home and helped the next Robert Byrd get into office? Folks, be mad at the GOP if you don’t think they’re doing a good job. Call your senator, call your congressman and give ’em hell if they deserve it. But, when November rolls around, make sure to vote because there’s more on the line than you might think.

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4 thoughts on “you can’t always get what you want

  1. This might be my second favorite post of yours.

    No one who reads this site understands what voting your party means more than I do. I almost entirely agree with the entire post, for the opposite of reasons of course 🙂

    I don’t have much in common with the left wing of my party. But in the end, I feel that agree or disagree with my party, a Democratic government is still better than anything the Republicans can form. That’s entirely my opinion of course. And not all that different from yours either, aside from switching the names of the parties around.

    I will add, just to be argumentive, that if Bush were investigated to the degree that Clinton was, he too would have been impeached and removed from office a long time ago.

    In 1996 the House of Representatives setup an unprecedented independent council, with subpeona powers, to investigate a land deal of Clinton’s that went sour in the 1980s. Clinton was cleared of all allegations from that original intent of the investigation, but was found to have extra-marital affairs which then the independent council began to investigate. It’s still very questionable if an independent council can even render an investigation into actions that are neither criminal or illegal (having an affair isn’t criminal or illegal).

    If we are to follow the Republican example of what an oversight Congress is, then Bush is in real trouble. But for some reason Congressional oversight no longer applies to Republican presidents.

    Now Republicans scream and yell that if the Dems were to take over Congress the first thing they would do is investigate Bush and call for impeachment. Not only is it hypocritical to say such, but I’m also confused at how the religious right can overlook such blatant trespasses of the Constitution which they apparently believe to have been formed under the guidance of God.

    Well, I’m off topic. Sorry! 🙂

  2. aaahhhh, it’s alright to agree sometimes. Like I said, if we just switch around the party names, there isn’t much we disagree about.

    I don’t think the Dems have an airtight case against Bush’s impeachment either. I don’t think Bush should be impeached at all. Nor do I think the Dems will pursue it if they take back the Congress (which I doubt they will take back either the House or the Senate). I think it’s a long shot for the Dems to pick up more than a couple seats in the House and no more than one in the Senate.

    I have no doubt that Clinton was railroaded for political reasons. I just think it’s wrong for the Repubs to cry foul now when they were the ones all throughout the 90s doing the railroading. But now they think it’s wrong to play politics for politics sake.

    As for the Dems being spineless, of course I disagree with that. But I also don’t recall the Repubs in ’94 laying out plans as to what they would do if they took control of the House and gained power. The Repubs weren’t saying “we’re going to impeach Clinton if you elect us and give us the power.” I get lost in the “where’s the plan” debate. Our government is designed for a majority rule system. Even if a minority party did develop a plan it would never be enacted. Besides, I’m curious to know just what the Republican plan is. It’s certainly not their platform of small government, fiscal discipline, moral values, compassionate conservatism, ownership society and national security.

    I have nothing in common with the Religious Right, so I can’t begin to comment on anything past my perceptions of them not holding both political parties to the same judgmental scrutiny that they so apply to only those who disagree with them.

    On another note, I think you have one of the most common sense blogs around 🙂

  3. I must stop agreeing with you so much. It’s destroying my reputation as a conservative Republican. 😛 Seriously, though, we do agree on looking at the big picture when we are talking about the future of our country. We just happen to disagree about which party would be more likely to do things we would want them to do.

    Here’s where we are going to disagree, unfortunately. I don’t think that the Democrats have an airtight case for impeachment against President Bush. I also think that it would be political suicide for them to attempt to do such a thing. Now…if they win back control of Congress, that might not be something Democrats would be all that concerned about.

    You know I feel about special prosecutors. We have discussed this before. Maybe Clinton was railroaded for political reasons. Does that mean it’s right to do the same thing to President Bush? Of course not.

    I disagree with Bush on many things, and I would definitely be in favor of holding him accountable for his record. However, I just don’t see the case for impeachment. Simply disagreeing with the President’s policies and interpretation of the law and Constitution is not enough to impeach a President.

    The Democrats are too spineless to admit what they are going to do once in power, but do you really doubt that they will pass up the opportunity to impeach Bush if they get that opportunity?

    There may be more of a case against President Bush than there was against Clinton. (I stress the word “may” because I’m willing to hear the argument, although I don’t hear anybody making it at this point.)

    I guess you could call the religious right hypocritical for not wanting to impeach Bush. But isn’t it possible that there is no case for impeachment here?

    If there is one, let the Democrats lay out the argument for it. Otherwise, all these threats mean nothing.

  4. Of course the Republicans didn’t say that they were going to impeach Clinton. Maybe it didn’t even occur to them to do such a thing. That wasn’t their main goal in taking control of Congress in 1994. There were other important reasons why the Republicans believed that the Congress needed to change hands. That’s what the Contract with America was for, and those Republicans were elected based on that agenda.

    That’s not the case with the Democrats, especially Conyers, who has already proposed investigations possibly leading to impeachment. Nancy Pelosi dances around the issue, and will not commit either way. I’m not convinced that Democrats, should they regain power, can resist the attempt to impeach Bush. I am cheered by your assessment that I won’t have to find out what the Democrats will do as a majority party. 😛

    I’m not sure that small government or fiscal discipline was ever in the platform. Moral values and national security were probably in there somewhere.

    Compassionate conservatism is simply a Rovian phrase to sell big government. (And it sure did work, didn’t it???) Did you ever read my post on that subject?

    Thanks for the compliment, but I have got to start writing more partisan posts. I feel like I’ve lost my edge or something.

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