It’s election season. That means every paper, TV news show, magazine, or blog is full of predictions, prognostications and prophesying. More often than not, it seems, the talking heads engaging in such speculation are incredibly short-sighted.
Take this New York Times article which notes the “double-edged sword” the Tea Party poses to the GOP. The author worries about what it will mean for the GOP with Tea Party candidates opposing establishment pols in moderate or blue states, such as Mike Castle in Delaware. The author frets that this might cost the GOP a majority, and Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report piles on by saying that her “measuring stick” for the impact of the Tea Party involves “seats where the Tea Party has nominated candidates over more viable Republican candidates.”
Is it possible a more principled candidate might lose in one of these districts where a moderate could win? Sure. It’s even possible, though improbable, that such situations might cost the GOP the majority. Where the analysts err is in thinking this is a bad thing for the Tea Party, or even the GOP. They are ignoring the big picture.
Politics is more than just a numbers game. The GOP had the raw numbers throughout the Bush years, for instance, but failed to shrink government. Why? Because they didn’t have the principled numbers. The same arguments the analysts are using now are what kept the Lincoln Chafee’s, Jim Jeffords’ and Arlen Specter’s as the favored candidates of the GOP. All of them eventually betrayed that same party at the first convenience because they had no principles. Their democrat-lite agenda, furthermore, undermined the small government image of the party. There were simply too many big government compromises made in an effort to win left-leaning seats. And what did that get us? Big government failures owned by the GOP, which, rightly or wrongly, means it was owned by conservatism in the eyes of many. The credibility of the brand was almost irreparably tarnished.
Right now what we need is a principled base to build on and restore limited government conservatism as the center-piece of the GOP brand. No matter how many seats the GOP wins in 2010, Obama is still going to be President. What the short-sighted analysts ignore is that a slightly smaller but principled opposition would accomplish more in the long run than a larger group of unprincipled useful idiots.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to bear it and support the less bad candidate, but taking the attitude of the talking heads by tossing principle aside and focusing only on the numbers game, or who can win right now, will actually cost us more important wins in the future. Too many bad apples will absolutely spoil the bunch.
Cross-posted at Conservative Compendium.