My mother has announced her voting position this November, and it can be summarized as “a plague on both their houses.” A Democrat since she came to this country, she is disgusted by the Obamites, and cannot in good conscience vote the Democratic ticket. However, she told me that she believes that Republicans are virtually indistinguishable from Democrats, so why bother to vote for them either? She is therefore thinking of sitting this election out. I suspect she represents the new Independents, who have become so independent that they can’t be bothered with voting at all.
My take on things is that my mother, bless her heart, is dead wrong. Sure, the game of politics, as played by both politicians and wannabes, is the same as always, complete with jockeying for both power and money. Given the superficial sameness that afflicts all politicians (same talking points, same power suits, same cant phrases, and canned speeches), it’s really no wonder that my mother looks at Congress as it is, and looks at the new candidates who want to join that club, and thinks that her so-called “choices” merely mean that she can have any colored car, so long as it’s black.
This superficial similarity, however, hides profound ideological differences that are usually hidden when the money is rolling in and security is strong. When money is scarce, however, and national security is a grave concern, those ideological differences come to the fore, and it matters greatly which party in our two-party system, has the majority:
1. Republicans do not believe that government is the solution to every problem. This is true despite the fact that Republicans in Congress regularly take your and my tax dollars to pay for government programs in their home states, all with the hope that they will be reelected. The fact is that, even though these Republicans believe in greed and power for their own benefit, this does not mean that they buy into the whole Big Government theory. When the chips are really down, as they were with ObamaCare, Republicans (with the exception of a small, but horribly damaging, handful of RINOs) are able to pull back from the Big Government abyss. Thus, when it wasn’t just a matter of a freeway or an airport or a museum that would carry their name, they were able to distinguish between garden-variety greed for power and money, on the one hand, and an unconstitutional government takeover of individual freedom, on the other hand. The fact that they were the minority party, however, made their principled stand ineffectual and irrelevant.
2. Republicans believe in American exceptionalism. Whether they are rich or poor, or in between, they think America is a great place. They believe in the Pledge of Allegiance; they believe in the virtues of America’s capitalist system; they believe in the Constitution; they believe that America is a force for good in the world; and they believe that the American people are good folk. Because they have been the minority party in Congress since 2006, however, the bills and policy statements emanating from Congress reflect, not the Republican belief in American greatness, but the Democratic belief that America is a spoiled, bullying nation, peopled by racist ignoramuses.
3. Republicans understand that radical Islam, whether in the form of weapons-carrying jihad or word-carrying Islamist propaganda, is a threat to America and to all of Western civilization. Even though the average wishy-washy Congressional Republican will usually yield to the liberal media when the “R” word comes out (that would be “racist”), that same Republican still understands that, if you love America, and believe in the Constitution, you ultimately must take a stand against a group of people who hate America and who are quite vocal about their goal of replacing the Constitution with the Koran. This is why Republicans are a reliable vote for keeping our military well-funded and supporting its missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. They know that, unless we want this existential war fought on American soil, we’re going to have to fight it abroad — because, one way or another, we’re going to have to fight it. Unfortunately, what with being the minority party in Congress since 2006, and with having a president who is deeply hostile to American exceptionalism and American values since 2008, Republicans in Congress are increasingly hamstrung and ineffectual when it comes to holding the line against radical Islam.
4. Israel. Despite the Jews’ blinkered affiliation with the Democratic party, that party is increasingly hostile to Israel. The Republican party is consistently supportive of Israel. While the president may get to be in the driver’s seat for foreign policy, having a Congressional majority that is strongly supportive of Israel matters when it comes to money and morale. The last two years have amply demonstrated how fragile is Israel’s security when Washington, D.C., is controlled entirely by Democrats.
Bottom line: Republicans en masse are better than Democrats, because Republican beliefs and values are profoundly different from Democrat beliefs and values. This is completely separate from the fact that any mass of Republicans is going to have some weak sisters who can be bullied by a majority of Democrats, or by the fact that any mass of Republicans can have some members who have unpleasant behaviors or personal belief systems.
I freely concede every bad thing about O’Donnell — I think she’s a fruit loop, but she’s our conservative fruit loop. Her election will make the difference between a Republican majority or a continued Democratic majority in Congress.
This is no longer about an individual candidate; this is about a numbers game: If the good Republicans in Congress are to make a difference, they must have a majority. Without that, they are useless, and we are in for another two years of unbridled far Left Progressivism emanating from Washington, D.C. Sadly, it’s not entirely clear to me that the U.S. can handle that strain. At this point, O’Donnell’s individual merits, which are admittedly few, are infinitely less important than the fact that she, just by being a warm Republican body, may be the pebble that, finally, diverts the Democratic stream.
UPDATE: I got an email from an astute friend who understands, better than just about anyone, the way votes play out. He does not think O’Donnell can win — and he’s certainly right on the merits. Moderate conservatives will run a mile from her, tossing Delaware to the Democrats. But I’m trying to say that moderate Republicans must get over their revulsion. Now that the primaries are over, and moderates voted their conscience by trying for a Castle win, I see only three ways for Delaware voters to go:
1. Vote for O’Donnell, which is a vote to get turn Congress over to the Republicans (which, presumably, is what conservatives, and worried Independents want).
2. Vote for the Democrat what’s-his-name, which is a vote to keep Congress in the hands of the Democrat party.
3. Abstain, which is also a vote to keep Congress in the hands of the Democrat party.
In other words, now that the primary is over, this is not about O’Donnell; instead, this about which party controls Congress. There were a lot of people who, in 2008, refused to hold their noses and vote for McCain, and look at how well that turned out. Sometimes pragmatism has to override principle.