Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Discourse On Moral and Political Compromise

What follows is an excerpt from an online discourse I shared with a dear friend a few months back:


Pat Buchanan summarized it well in a column a few years back:

"Lesson: Political opportunism does not pay. At least when you stand on principle, there is honor in defeat. --snip-- "Part of the GOP leadership hierarchy has lost its faith. It may still declaim about less government and more freedom, but it no longer believes deeply enough to risk defeat. Our leaders seem to have come to look upon a loss of power like death itself, and hence, any abandonment of principle is justified to avert so intolerable a fate. "But a party terrified of defeat is already dead in its soul and open to intimidation. The dog can smell the fear in the man."

Buchanan was obviously talking about Washington, D.C. but the smell of fear and the stench of moral compromise that once stayed in D.C. is now all over a lot of GOP public figures here in the "Buckle on the Bible Belt" as well. More's the pity. There can be honor in principled defeat but there can be none in self-serving retreat.

The Taylor win was just the beginning. The GOP is gonna lose a house seat over this and they now have a self funded Democratic political powerhouse to deal with that can buy whatever office she darn well pleases for twenty years to come. Frankly, the Tulsa GOP deserves it for trying to foist Bill L and so many others like him off on us for so long.

Fellow Participant asks, "What would you do, have GOP voters stay at home?"

You bet. The GOP has been scr*wing its conservative base for decades with this strategy. Run right govern center. Stay just perceptibly right of the Democrats so that you can attract middle of the road "swing votes" while you ignore your conservative base. There is one way and way only for true conservatives, especially thecons like myself, to ever regain any influence in the GOP. Let em lose and let em lose big. Let them know that if they don't take our issues seriously they cannot count on our vote. Show them that if they insist on offering mediocre party hacks instead of real candidates we will sit it out. Frankly, from what I have seen from the GOP lately we were no worse off with Dems in power anyway.

I become incredibly frustrated with my theocon bretheren who never examine the candidates and then invoke the name of God to support for Dem's in GOP clothing despite their weak or imperceptible differences from Dems on key issues. I become even more frustrated with the growing number of Kool Aid drinkers who do not hold GOP pols feet to the fire on their issues and instead come running back to vote for any jerk with an elephant beside his name.

I will not vote for a candidate I do not feel is qualified. Period. No matter which party. I will not vote for a candidate who is morally compromised. Period. I will not support a political party that does not respect me, my beliefs and issues. Period. Its better not to vote than to participate in the election of a candidate that neither respects you nor will follow your wishes in office.

I regularly speak to churches and religious groups. I always speak on issues and never support a particular candidate. But, my stump speech has changed. I have read a lot of Bonhoeffer over the years and I am now advocating his position that people of faith must as a matter of duty refrain from participation in politics when it is purely a lesser of evils choice.

Fellow Participant comments that is the sacred duty of every citizen to always vote no matter how distasteful the candidates are.

"The church has three possible ways it can act against the state. First, it can ask the state if its actions are legitimate. Second, it can aid the victims of the state action. The church has the unconditional obligation to the victims of any ordering society even if they do not belong to the Christian society. The third possibility is not just [to] bandage the victims under the wheel, but to jam a spoke in the wheel itself."

D. Bohoeffer, The Church and the Jewish Question, 1933

"While your contributors wrote with a circumspection appropriate to the occasion, they have laid an indisputable case for the illegitimacy of the regime now passing itself off as a democracy. Our government has delegitimated itself in at least two ways. On a purely political level, Americans hold that our rulers derive their authority to govern through the will of the people. Only the most partisan supporters of the present regime could insist that we still live in a functioning democracy. On the most essential matters of human life and conscience, the courts have systematically invalidated the will of the people. Furthermore, they have done this by constructing a jurisprudence that leaves no doubt they intend to continue ruling by judicial fiat for the foreseeable future. Only questions of relative insignificance have been left to the people to resolve for themselves. This is no small development and before we accept it there ought to be some sort of national discussion. I doubt most Americans are aware of the current impotence of their vote."

The End of Democracy, Dr. James Dobson, Pres. Focus on the Family, First Things, Jan. 1997

"For many decades now, control over the most important decisions affecting the conditions under which Americans live, work, and raise their children has flowed steadily from the people most affected toward state and federal legislatures and administrative agencies. The courts were hardly the only agents in this process, nor is it certain that they could have held it back. Yes, legislatures are more representative than courts, but they too are increasingly responsive to the interests and values of "elites." Yes, the judiciary all too often mirrors the biases of the knowledge class, but the legislative and administrative processes are all too often captured by the money class. And look not to the political parties, as presently constituted, for help. It does not seem an exaggeration to say that we currently have a party of big business paying lip service to traditional moral values, and a party of big government paying lip service to the need of working people and the poor. Even that distinction is collapsing as Democratic Party leaders cozy up to big business, and Republicans discover the joys of big government. The cracks in the democratic pillars of the republic, alas, may extend to the cultural foundations. Hittinger recognizes this when he questions whether the people have "tacitly consented" to the new regime."

Dr. Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard, The End of Democracy, First Things, Jan. 1997

"Only the Church collectively can decide at what point a government becomes sufficiently corrupt that a believer must resist it. But, with fear and trembling, I have begun to believe that, however Christians in America gather to reach their consensus, we are fast approaching this point. Most orthodox Christians are likely to find it impossible to support a political regime under which the judiciary-without any legislative license-sanctions abortion, euthanasia, and homosexual marriage. Few believers are likely to pledge their allegiance to a government under which the courts-in the name of "constitutional rights" they themselves have sole authority to read into the Constitution-can systematically close off any form of political opposition by declaring it to betray the "inevitable inference" of animus.

"And if, after prayerful deliberation, Christians corporately determine that our present government has violated its God-given mandate, what then? After the pattern of the confessing German church, the Church would first have to separate herself and declare her independence, disavowing any moral legitimacy indirectly or unofficially provided for the state in the past. Through her teaching and preaching office, the Church would need to expose the nature of the state's rebellion against God-in effect, bringing the state under the transcendent judgment of God."

Dr. Charles Colson, The End of Democracy, First Things, Nov. 1996

Fellow Participant asks me to restate the last post in "plain english."

My friend that is plain english. You have just perfectly illustrated one of the primary problems with the American electorate. Educated by schools that teach slogans instead of learning, informed by a media that condenses every issue to a thirty second sound byte and a maximum one hour wrap up for "in depth" reporting, most American voters are incapable of wading through the moral and ethical implications of their actions at the ballot box or anyplace else. The link at the bottom of that post is there for a reason. It's to allow a thinking participant to read some very smart people's analysis of the current state of American politics. I have degrees in law and criminal justice. I have a minor in the modern equivalent of journalism. I have authored over 200 bylined news articles and opinion pieces, several of them on political and constitutional issues. I have been published locally, regionally and nationally. Having said all of that, I have to think these things through very carefully and consult the wisdom of every source that I can trust before I come to a conclusion. I would suggest you do the same.

Fellow Participant replies that he participated and did what he thought was right.

We're caught in a no win cycle and will be until the voters find the collective cojones to "just say no." Who do you think defeated Medlock? Not Taylor. The GOP. The GOP wanted LaFortune and bet the store that they could crap all over voters like you and for that matter Medlock and still see you crawl back to ballot box at the last moment and support them when they chanted a few conservative and Christian code words and erected a Democratic straw man.

(This entire debacle)... did a great job of revealing just how corrupt the Tulsa County GOP has become. But, when the time came to follow the only natural and moral conclusion of that revelation, to have no part of it, (our so-called public voices) ... lost their nerve and by doing that, became partakers in what they beheld, losing their moral mandate to lead.

The GOP rank and file have to learn the lessons that our opponents take for granted. The Dem's never ever ever take their base constituencies for granted except perhaps for the black vote. If they scr*ew over the gays, the feminists, the unions or the teachers, they will be punished publicly and quickly and everybody on the hill knows it. Those people have clout in their party. Until the GOP conservative constituencies find the same kind of savvy and guts, we are going to be the "ignorant and easily led" sheep that the Dem's accuse us of being.


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