Friday, October 31, 2014

Ideological purity versus principled victory

I like Ted Cruz, and I'm sure I would vote exactly the same as he does in the Senate. But this article presents facts and many quotes from Reagan to show exactly where his rhetoric is reality-challenged. His blind spot is shared by many in the conservative movement whom I greatly respect and admire, including Rush Limbaugh. Excerpt:

Cruz is fond of contrasting his stance with those of “Washington consultants” who allegedly say that “standing for principle is inconsistent with winning elections.” He says that there are only two approaches available to conservatives, theirs or his. But this is a false dichotomy.

Reagan knew that brazenly drawing a line in the sand for the American people was the worst way to combat the liberal establishment. He explained to the readers of National Review that Goldwater lost in 1964 because Democrats had portrayed conservatives as advocating “a radical departure from the status quo.” “Time now for the soft sell,” he said, “to prove our radicalism was an optical illusion.”

Reagan also knew that ideological purity is the enemy of principled victory. In 1967, speaking to a conservative grassroots group, then-governor Reagan set out his vision for the GOP:

"We cannot offer [to individualists] a narrow sectarian party in which all must swear allegiance to prescribed commandments. Such a party can be highly disciplined, but it does not win elections. This kind of party soon disappears in a blaze of glorious defeat, and it never puts into practice its basic tenets, no matter how noble they may be."

Reagan knew that victory can come only by assembling a coalition of people, not all of whom will agree on every topic.


  1. Perhaps so, but I'm afraid the "principled" gets left out of "principled victory" all too easily. See the GOP controlled Congress (and White House) from 2003-2006 for example.

    I'd also suggest, again, that this becomes an excuse for not clearly stating those principles (you know, the ones that amount to "principled victory") during campaigns so as to place a clear choice before the electorate. Instead, we'll often get an appeal based on how incompetently the Dems are carrying out progressive programs, and how competently the Republicans will carry out those progressive programs -- rather than a call for eliminating the programs all together. This ends up being a ratchet effect, where no program is ever old and useless enough to be eliminated.

    1. Appeals on carrying out terrible programs? Luxury! What I get is six weeks of, "The weasel in this grainy black-and-white photo wants to EAT YOUR BRAINS!!! I'm Tweedle Dee and I approve this message."