Time for Conservative Unity
By Richard Larsen
The recent suspension of campaigns by erstwhile presidential candidates, characterizes two distinct ways of thinking by voters in this country. One, when he can’t have it his way, gathers up his marbles and goes home. The other, acknowledging reality, accedes to voters’ preferences, and supports the victor.
Three weeks ago former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suspended his campaign. In his remarks on April 10 Santorum made no inference that he would do anything to assist or support the presumed Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, and made no reference to him.
Earlier this week former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced he was suspending his campaign as well. But unlike Santorum, Newt declared, “I am committed to defeating Obama. We’ll do everything we can to help stop an Obama second term and win congressional majorities.”
Primary elections function as a process of elimination. With nine candidates running at the outset, voters of all parties who were disenchanted with the present administration could register and vote their conscience for the candidate that came closest to their way of thinking. With each successive state primary or caucus, the field shrank a little further.
Some voters choose to be like Gingrich; pragmatic and practical, realizing that to defeat the incumbent, unity is not a luxury, but a requisite. Consequently, even though their preferred candidate may no longer be in the race or viable, they realize in order to prevent another four years of the current regime, it’s imperative to support the one remaining candidate that can end it.
Other voters, however, take the Santorum approach. They gather up their marbles, mournfully exit the stage and go home, attacking the remaining candidate as they go. They can’t have it the way they want it so they “cash in” with pious pomposity, vowing no support to a candidate their “conscience” won’t allow them to vote for. Included in this group are those who imperiously proclaim, “I will not vote for the lesser of two evils,” or “A Romney administration will be just the same,” or any number of other self-validating acclamations.
Four years ago Mitt Romney bowed out of the race in appropriate fashion. He stated the need to unify behind the presumed nominee, endorsed the front-runner and encouraged his delegates to support McCain at the convention. Especially in light of the spirited sparring that occurred between the two, it was the appropriate and logical thing to do.
The moral imperative for anyone who feels the present administration is taking the country down the wrong path is to unite behind the one who can terminate it. For the moral imperative is derived by logic and reason, per Immanuel Kant, and survival of the republic should take supremacy over personal preference. There can be no other morally, or logically, acceptable action than to support the only remaining viable challenger.
Voltaire’s aphorism, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” applies consummately to politics. If the “perfect” candidate is a “10” on a desirability scale, and the practical choice is between a good “5” and a least desirable “1,” it is both illogical and immoral to not sustain the good five.
Politics is incremental in nature, and based in reality. Even slight movements in the right direction, based on reality, are always preferable to movements in the wrong direction facilitated by misplaced focus on ideality. Consequently, voting for an impossible “10,” which facilitates the election of a “1,” is, in fact, a wasted vote.
If voters, regardless of party affiliation, fervently believe that the present occupant of the White House represents an ideology that is antithetical to the founding principles of our country, the moral imperative is to unify behind the candidate that can remove him from office. It would be unconscionable to do anything else.
Those who, as a misguided matter of “conscience,” vote for a third party candidate, dividing the conservative vote, or worse yet, choose to not vote, waiting for the perfect candidate, are only improving the likelihood of another four years of the status quo. And that would be a violation of the moral imperative.
The real clincher for the holdouts to supporting Romney should be concern over the composition of the Supreme Court. If you believe in constructionist judicial review, a la John Roberts, versus a “living” constitutional judiciary, a la Elena Kagan, dividing the vote or staying home are indefensible choices.
The moral imperative requires that we put national interests ahead of our own. We unite and end this inexorable march to the economic abyss, the proliferation of the nanny state, and the annulment of our constitutional values. For as Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Or, worse, that they do the wrong thing.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.