Reasonableness and the GOP

You know why people hate politics? Because politicians are forced, at least in our current political climate, to cling to principles (sometimes abstract, often extremist, entirely unyielding) over pragmatism, realism, and results.

Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity
Take the series of articles I wrote last year on obesity as a personal example.   I consider myself a lowercase libertarian -- socially liberal, fiscally conservative.  At the philosophical core, I believe private enterprise and free markets genuinely, sincerely provide better, quicker, cheaper, more effective, more efficient goods and services than the government is capable of providing.  I am generally a supporter of a small (not absent) government, less red tape, fewer sweeping legislative prohibitions, more laissez-faire permissiveness, and smart, small taxes.  But I'm also a supporter of reasonableness, moderation, restraint, and sanity.

In one of these articles, I suggested replacing existing school lunch programs with smarter food -- non-pizza vegetables* -- to avoid the well-documented public health costs of obesity and obesity-related diseases.  But I was absolutely lambasted for that idea -- angry commenters told me I was a "Statist" who was giving libertarians a bad name, and that "no libertarian would ever support a government program."  It got me thinking: these people, these commenters, clung so hard to my self-definition as a libertarian and whether my views fit in with that party's established belief rubric that they never considered whether my argument was reasonable, or even whether it ultimately achieved the goals libertarians espouse (saving money, lower income taxes).  They didn't consider whether my argument made sense, was feasible, was productive, would work -- only that it wasn't part of the "Libertarian" agenda.

Rally to Restore Sanity
And that's exactly what conservative Republicans are doing to their best-hope candidates. G.O.P. party members are more concerned with whether their candidate is "conservative enough" than whether he is capable of winning a general election, working with Congress, accomplishing tangible goals, arming himself with viable ideas to create jobs.  Hard Right-wingers have attacked every candidate with even a modicum of moderation on social issues as "not conservative enough," a brand that has brought the death of many candidates and certainly the death of any hope of an open-minded debate where different options, ideas and strategies are discussed and allowed.  The party core seems to be less concerned with actually finding a workable plan for jobs/healthcare/education/globalism, and more concerned with never straying from the tiny, purist conservative box of canned value statements.

Rally to Restore Sanity
This is why Mitt Romney can't get a shoe-hold on this election for more than a few states at a time.  Despite a dangerously bad economy poised on an unsteady (and therefore, perhaps temporary) upswing, the far Right can't seem to refocus from the fetal to the fiscal.  I have written about this issue before, but surprisingly my blog doesn't have the readership of Rick Santorum's people.  So I'll say it again: even if its just now, just once, just this year, forget about the gays getting married or women having abortions or taking condoms away from at-risk teenagers as a voting platform and fix the goddamn economy. 

Conservatives, you are being greedy, but more importantly, you are being unwise.  Rick Santorum is never going to win the general election, and then where are you?  I ask: is four years of Obama better than four years of Mitt Romney to you?  And, if I am severely underestimating the voting power of the evangelical Democrats who will swing over to a Santorum nomination and Santorum does indeed get elected, think of where we are: when we elect extreme, polarized politicians we end up in exactly the legislative stalemate we've suffered for the last four years.  Are you really going to overturn Roe v. Wade?  Is that a priority with our unemployment rate?  And how are you going to stop the growing tidal wave of state-by-state pro-gay marriage laws, absent a sweeping federal prohibition that goes against everything states' rights conservatism stands for?

Rally to Restore Sanity
So, let it go.  Teach your morals in your churches and your homes, but don't sabotage a smart businessman capable of affecting real change and growth in our economy because of what he may or may not think about a woman's right to choose.  At some point, compromise and reasonableness have to triumph over strict partisan ideologies or we're all, as one of my obesity blog commenters said, "putting philosophy before pragmatism."





* Technically, the tomato paste on pizza was able to be disproportionately classified as having more vegetable content, clarifies the Washington Post.

If you like these signs, Buzzfeed has the 100 Best Signs from the Rally to Restore Sanity here.
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