Monday, October 27, 2008

You should be very careful when voting your conscience

“I’m voting my conscience!”

Yeah, been there, done that. And as a result I can shamefully lower my head and admit that I helped put Bill Clinton in office in 1992, because I helped split the conservative vote. I thought this issue was dead, but I just had a conversation with a dear friend who declared he was voting Libertarian.

Look, sports fans, I’m in your boat. Of the Republican field, John McCain is pretty much the last candidate I would have picked. He’s consistently ticked me off as a senator by siding with the Democrats, to the point that I branded him a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I listened in real time as he self-destructed on Michael Reagan’s evening talk show in the 2000 campaign.

I used to really like the guy when he was a junior senator. He was young, fresh looking, articulate, a bona fide war hero, and what he said actually made sense! But his years in the senate have tarnished him and distanced him from the mindset that he originally brought to the senate.

It makes sense to vote your conscience. But you need to temper this with responsibility. Four years ago when Christine Gregoire ballot counted her way into the Governor’s seat in Washington state, the final total difference between her and Dino Rossi was less than the total number of votes cast for the Libertarian candidate. Libertarians voting their conscience ensured the election of the candidate who least reflected their values.

The government is severely screwed up. It’s been this way for nigh on forty years now, as the disconnect between spending and revenue widens. The halls of congress seem like some surreal fantasyland where cause and effect don’t seem connected. The problem with a lot of conservatives today is that we want it fixed and cleaned up, and we want it right now!

Well, friends, it took sixty years to mess it up this bad. It’s going to take some time to put it right. The very first thing we need to do is to wrest the controls from the lunatics who are driving the bus! And we’re not going to do this by splitting our forces arguing about who the driver ought to be. The idea that anyone is going to get elected by advocating sweeping reform back to conservative ideals is a pipe dream. Take a lesson from the Democrats: Incrementalism works! You need to reform the system one step at a time. That’s how it got messed up and how it’s going to be set right.

If you take your marbles and leave if you can’t get your way, you are not only disenfranchising yourself , you are ensuring the victory of a candidate who will be the antithesis of everything you value in government. You need to realize that government is compromise and coalition building. The guy you vote for might not hold all the values you do, but half a loaf is better than none. Would you rather have a leader who shares some of your values, or ones that shares none of your values? Split the conservative vote, and the liberals take office. You will be governed by the one candidate who least represents your views. If this is your desire, then by all means, stand on your principles and vote Libertarian. Just keep your mouth shut for the next fours years afterward, because when Obama takes office, you will be the one who helped put him there.

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