Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Play the hand you're dealt

Back when my dad and his older brother were kids, there was a day when his older brother was as sick as a dog. That was the day my dad chose to beat the stuffing out of him. Of course, he paid for it the next day, but it was worth it!

The PP informs us that he is busy this week. So I’ll take advantage of his distraction to comment on a recent little essay of his, addressed to a hypothetical Republican.

Now, speaking for myself, I’m a natural born cynic. And although my conversion to the faith some thirty years ago has given me cause to rethink and renounce many of my previous beliefs, I’ve never had the slightest occasion to recant my cynicism. Indubitable cynicism is a wonderful vaccine against disillusionment and doubt. If cynicism were a verb, I would say “Cynico, ergo sum.”

I share the PP’s criticisms of the Bush administration. However, I’m not disappointed. I’ve not suffered a memory lapse—although if I were suffering from political amnesia I don’t suppose I’d remember it, right? I’ve not been whipped into a frenzy. I’m not running scared.

No, I don’t feel silly. No, the GOP isn’t playing me like a piano. My piano lid is locked and bolted. No, I don’t support big gov’t as long as it’s in Republican hands. No, I don’t take a particularly positive view of the national party.

N/A. None of the above. Zippo!

I voted for Bush in 2000 because the choice was between Bush and Gore, and Bush was better than Gore. I voted for Bush in 2004 because the choice was between Bush and Kerry, and Bush was better than Kerry.

My philosophy is not to vote for the best candidate, but to vote for the best electable candidate. There’s no point in voting otherwise, although there’s sometimes a point in sitting out an election. What the point of voting for a loser? Either vote for a winner, or don’t vote.

For me, the choice is between better and worse. It’s as simple as that. I play the hand that providence has dealt me. I calibrate my cynicism to providence.

It’s quite true that Christians have nowhere else to go. Who would ee vote for? Petruka? Remember him? I don’t either? That would be a feel good vote, but nothing more.

If third parties could work, they would work. If third party candidates could win, they would win. They lose because they don’t have the votes.

Yes, I know, that’s a tautology. Nothing very profound. But tautologies do have the singular virtue being true. Trivial, but true—fatally and irrefutably true.

Now, there are times when the cost of winning is higher than the cost of losing. The PP brings up Giuliani. I’d sit that one out.

You can compromise to the point there it isn’t a choice between better and worse. You can compromise to the point where you become a clone of the opposition.

In that case, it sends a good message to the party bosses that you are prepared to draw a line in the sand. Some loses are tactical losses. But you don’t win by losing every time.

A vote for the GOP is not a vote for big government. Yes, Bush is a big government guy. But that’s not why I’m voted for him. That’s an incidental evil of voting for him. I cast my vote for Bush for other reasons. Unfortunately, big government is the price one pays for a Bush administration.

I don’t like the tab anymore than the PP. But if Bush spends like a Democratic, so would a Democrat. Yet a Democrat would be hostile to my values across-the-board, whereas Bush is generally sympathetic. And, at worst, voting for Bush is an act of damage control.

I’ve heard it said that both parties are headed over the cliff, just at different speeds. To begin with, this isn’t true. They aren’t going in the same direction on all issues.

But even so, there’s something to be said for buying yourself some lead time. For setting up some roadblocks on the expressway to destruction.

This isn’t about winning, in the sense of forcing the God-haters into absolute surrender. That’s not going to happen. This isn’t about winning the war. This isn’t about winning every fight and skirmish.

This is about winning just enough battles so that we survive and stay in the game and keep the cause of the gospel alive to pass on to another generation.

There’s a lot to criticize in Bush, but, you know, he’s the one who ran and won. Many of his critics have never run for national office, much less won their bid for high office. Better candidates have run—and lost.

We can’t expect the other guy to do it all for us, to agree with us all the time, to do what we would do were we him his position, because we’re not in his position, and he’s not us.

If a better viable candidate runs, I’ll vote for the better viable candidate. But we can’t leave it all to the other guy, tell the other guy what we want, tell the other guy what to do, and expect him to do our bidding everytime.

You know the old saying that if you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself. But if you’re going to delegate the task to a second-party, and there are perfectly good reasons for doing so, then you have to settle for less. The only question is, how much less?

Finally, we really are making progress, you know. Take the dust-up over judicial nominees. When Reagan nominated Bork, the liberal establishment simply crushed him. He lost, and lost by a wide margin.

When Bush nominated Roberts, the liberal establishment was absolutely impotent to prevent his confirmation. He won, and won by a wide margin.

Why are the liberals so fanatical about the courts? Because that’s all they’ve got left. They’ve got this toehold on power. Just one frost-bitten toehold on power.

Why are liberal lawmakers so dependent on the judicial branch of government? Why don’t they pass a federal law banning school prayer? Because they don’t have the votes. Why don’t they pass a federal law legalizing abortion on demand? Because they don’t have the votes. Why don’t they pass a federal law legalizing homosexual sodomy? Because they don’t have the votes?

They don’t have popular support for their agenda. That’s why they’re so angry and insecure and iron-fisted. They’re the ones running scared.

Well, cowardice has its consolations. But I’ll have to skip town next week to dodge falling rocks from the PP’s crushing reply. And if the Turkoman decides to pile on as well, I guess I’ll have to go into the witness protection program.

Either that or rent a room in Jus Divinum’s Tuscan villa. That’s his winter residence, you know. His summer home is a charming chalet overlooking Lake Lucerne. Did I ever tell about you about the time he was entertaining The Donald? Well, that’s another story.

5 comments:

  1. Except for the fact that we have no idea who John Roberts is and even less of an idea who Miers is, I was going to say this is a great post.

    You may beat me up for being inconsistent, but I vote the way you vote -- meaning I vote pragmatically. One doesn't really have a choice if one wants to vote meaningfully and keep power out of the hands of the utterly incompetant. Sometimes it is better to have the marginally-incompetant in charge if the only other two choices are armed revolution and gutless agnostic totalitarians.

    When PP and his libertarian buddies can win a local/state election and prove their system of small government works in a small governement, and that they have the ability to manage the cuts down without shattering the economy, they can then prove to me their system has a Christian metaphysical underpinning and we can start circulating petitions for signatures. Until then, they need to stop the name-calling and the high-brow schtick.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with Steve's sentiments, and I agree with Frank regarding the need for third parties to do more to prove themselves.

    I would add that some of the advocates of third parties that I've come across have said that they considered Ronald Reagan an acceptable candidate. How long has it been since Reagan was in office? About 17 years. Are we to believe that 17 years is such a long time that it justifies the abandonment of the Republican party?

    I've also noticed, as Steve mentions, that advocates of third parties often focus on issues of the size of government, usually ignoring or underestimating the significance of advances the Republicans have made on abortion, marriage, guns, and other issues. We have to make all of these judgments in the context of where the society is, and on some issues our society seems to be at a point where they wouldn't allow much more than what the Republicans have been doing.

    There is no plausible third party at this point, and the Republicans are significantly better than the Democrats, despite Republican weaknesses on spending and other issues. The claim that we have to vote for third parties in order to make them plausible needs to be qualified with the condition that we vote for them only if there's evidence to suggest that other factors will get other people to vote for them over time as well. And that condition wasn't met in 2000 or 2004. I doubt that it will be in 2008 either. If I thought that voting for a good third party in 2008 and 2012 would result in that party getting the presidency in 2016, I'd be willing to vote for it. But that's not the situation we have. Instead, it doesn't look like any of the good third parties have what would be needed to accomplish much in the foreseeable future. Maybe that situation will change over time by means of a third party getting a lot of funding, one of the two major parties collapsing, a national disaster, or something else. But it isn't the situation we're faced with at this point in time.

    Jason Engwer
    http://members.aol.com/jasonte
    New Testament Research Ministries
    http://www.ntrmin.org

    ReplyDelete

  3. If third parties could work, they would work. If third party candidates could win, they would win. They lose because they don’t have the votes.


    I'm disappointed. That's very poor logic, common, but poor. "Third parties don't have the votes, so I won't give them mine." right. So lets ask ourselves, why don't they have the votes? Oh yeah, because most people think like you do.

    You say to vote for someone you are fairly certain won't win is to throw your vote away. I say that voting for something you don't want because they'll win doesn't make sense. Things never get better by asking for more of it. It may be that nothing will get better in my lifetime, or ever. That's fine. I will have done my part to encourage others to do the right thing, not the expedient thing.

    Honestly, I'm glad our ancestors didn't think as you do. If they were to have been pragmatic and put themselves on the side likely to win, we'd still be subject to the crown.

    Jason:

    I would add that some of the advocates of third parties that I've come across have said that they considered Ronald Reagan an acceptable candidate. How long has it been since Reagan was in office? About 17 years. Are we to believe that 17 years is such a long time that it justifies the abandonment of the Republican party?


    No, it isn't. But that's cause you see Reagan as the start of the decline. I see reagan as pretty much the End of the decline. He was one of the last Republican candidates worth voting for.

    They keep serving us up worse and worse candidates, and we keep smiling and noding and voting for them. Why in the WORLD would they feel the need to change that? They feel safe. They've so far managed to keep third parties in obscurity, and where are you going to go? The democrats? They've figured out they can abuse you, and you'll say "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

    I don't know who PP is cent, so I'm not sure how to take what you're saying there. Maybe some of the language you've thrown at him is appropriate, I dunno.

    But as for "does [their system of] small govt work"? Yes, it does. Buy a history book. Libertarianism isn't a new concept. It's the very principles of government this nation was founded on.

    Christian metaphysical underpinning? I'm not sure what you mean by that, but I will say this. It's far more consistant with biblical teaching and understanding of man than what our current system has become.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Couple more points here:

    When PP and his libertarian buddies can win a local/state election and prove their system of small government works in a small governement, and that they have the ability to manage the cuts down without shattering the economy


    FYI, as is easily discoverable, the libertarians have already won state and local elections. In fact, we have libertarians in congress, though most of them are there as republicans. It's unfortunate that they have to have a big name to have a chance, but as has been demonstrated here, people's prejudices don't allow for truly free elections at the moment. Especially in large national races.

    I'm not sure how you think they even could shatter "the economy" with offices in local or even state offices, but they certainly have not. That despite having saved (acc to the libertarian parties numbers) the american people ~2.2 million dollars in 2004 alone.

    ANd, finally, I'm very confused by some of your comments Mr. Hays.




    My philosophy is not to vote for the best candidate, but to vote for the best electable candidate. There’s no point in voting otherwise, although there’s sometimes a point in sitting out an election. What the point of voting for a loser? Either vote for a winner, or don’t vote.

    For me, the choice is between better and worse. It’s as simple as that. I play the hand that providence has dealt me. I calibrate my cynicism to providence.


    So, sitting out an election can send a message, but voting for a third party isn't? Sitting out an election isn't throwing your vote away, voting a third party is?

    I find it interesting that providence only dealt you two options in your view. So, by your standards, providence didn't provide the third party options? Obviously, we both believe that God ordains and directs governments, and we both believe that God uses means. Yet I'm curious...is God's providence somehow thwarted by voting for the candidate who actually is actually a good candidate, instead of just the 'less evil' one? Even if you don't think he can win?

    You know, I find it amazing that you guys would take the pragmatic approach on something like this. We are all either reformed baptists I believe. We are certainly not the majority. And when it comes to being effective, we're hardly that when it comes to moving things in the political sphere. So, I'm curious, do you apply this pramatism and expediency to co-belligerance with false religions? The Catholic church carries a lot of weight, they're a "winner" if you will within this world. They have sufficient people to change the course of politics.

    Just look at the Bush/Kerry election year. I would argue that two primary events influenced Bush's strong victory. The swift-boat vets coming out with the truth about his War record, and the Catholic church dispute with Kerry, and the order to refuse him communion.

    So, arguably, if you are going to apply this standard of yours consistanly, you should throw in with them to accomplish goals in trying to eliminate abortion for example.

    I know that's not going to happen though, and for very good reasons. We are not called to shrink back, not to comprimise. We don't NEED to comprimise. God is sovereign and in control of all things which he works to his good pleasure. We are called to do what is right, and then, to trust in him. We are to rest in his power alone.

    Frankly, what I see underscoring a lot of this 'throw away your vote' fallacy stuff is fear. Fear that if you were to drop your support that someone worse will get elected, etc. And that fear belies a lack of consistant application of our belief that God truly is in control.

    Having said that, I fully recognize that you may not be swayed by any of this. In fact, it is this same belief that makes me accept it. It is entirely possible that the general blindness of the so-called religious right IS God's use of means to establish the government He has chosen.

    Yet just like when God uses mans sin to accomplish his goals, that does not give me leave to stop calling them to repentence. In like manner, just because God maybe using this blindness doesn't give me leave to stop speaking against it when I believe it is wrong.



    Finally, we really are making progress, you know. Take the dust-up over judicial nominees. When Reagan nominated Bork, the liberal establishment simply crushed him. He lost, and lost by a wide margin.

    When Bush nominated Roberts, the liberal establishment was absolutely impotent to prevent his confirmation. He won, and won by a wide margin.


    Apples and Oranges. Frankly, it just makes Bush look that much worse. Reagan faced a hostile democrat controlled congress, and appointed a staunch known conservative. That's backbone.

    Bush faced a friendly, republican controlled congress and he appointed a weak, unknown candidate. Two of them in fact.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello, your blog is great, I also have aback bible website , hope that it is useful to you. Thanks

    ReplyDelete