Principles vs. Partisanship
Conservatism is about more than elections.
When Pat Buchanan was in high school, legend has it that whenever he saw two guys duking it out, he’d ask, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone join?”
That’s how I feel about a debate over at National Review, my old stomping grounds. While I disagree somewhat with some folks—actually, all of them (more on that in a minute)—the whole colloquy makes me proud of my role in helping to found National Review Online and specifically, its blog the Corner. From the beginning, part of the idea of the Corner was to show readers that there’s more intellectual and ideological diversity among conservatives than stereotypes suggest. The Corner was supposed to offer a simulacrum of the kind of conversations we’d have in private—or, at least, a best version of them.
That’s what’s been going on for the last week or so. And I’m going to wade in, so if you’re not interested in this stuff (I don’t blame you), you should probably bail now.
It all started when Kevin Williamson argued that Arizona GOP Senate nominee Blake Masters’ weaselly backpedaling on abortion disqualified him for conservative support. Under the headline “Don’t Reward Cowardice with Your Vote,” Kevin makes a good case for, well, not rewarding the cowardly Masters with your vote. Dan McLaughlin and Michael Brendan Dougherty jumped in to disagree—Masters’ sausage-spined cave to political expediency is regrettable, but he’s still the better choice than his opponent. Charlie Cooke then jumped in from the top rope to argue that the real reason to vote for Masters is to disrupt unified control of government by the Democrats. A vote for Republicans is a vote for divided government, and divided government is preferable to the alternative. Kevin responded that this sort of thinking—“We have to accept this crap because the Democrats will do bad things”—is how we got Trump and the Trumpification of the party. The real issue is less the next election than the long-term health of the GOP and American politics.