Why I Vote Republican

 

I am not arguing that all of you should vote Republican.  I am (1) giving an explanation of why I do, and (2) asking those who don’t why they don’t.

The Explanation: I could put it this way: on life, marriage, religious liberty, the meaning of the Constitution, rule of law, separation of powers, the national debt, health insurance, and economic growth I do not trust the Republicans to be correct; but on these things I do trust the Democrats to be wrong. As such, I vote for the least bad option in the generals, and I vote for the best option in the primaries.

The GOP?

I hope that’s not too snarky. It’s definitely a bit of a generalization (e.g., West Virginia Democrats approved a nice pro-life measure not so long ago).

Anyway, it doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.

Now I could put it that way, and then add that I believe it is my responsibility to promote the realistic route that takes us the closest to perfection.

But that still wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter: causing harm by inaction is equal to causing harm by action.

From this principle follows another principle: when inaction leads to greater harm than action, act for the best.

This latter principle would mean that allowing bad things to happen by not voting is as bad as directly causing bad things  to happen by voting (i.e., not voting Republican is the same kind of bad as voting Democrat.)

But these principles are not absolute and have limits. If you’re in Germany in the wrong decade, and a Nazi general tells you to personally execute 10 Jews else he will personally execute eleven, the right thing to do is . . . nothing at all. There is such a thing as evil so bad that contributing to it is inexcusable; and such a thing is to be avoided, even if the results of inaction are even worse than the results of contributing to evil (anyway, the Nazi is responsible for the death of the eleventh Jew–not you).

Elephant going left

The real GOP?

So the principle “when inaction leads to greater harm than action, act for the best” does not apply in cases where action would involve inexcusable contribution to evil.

The final component of my explanation is this: I tend not to view the transgressions of Republicans as evils of the kind to which contribution is inexcusable.

THE REQUEST

I know that some of you stay home on election day (and some others consider doing so), even though inaction contributes to greater harm.

If you are one of these people, please tell me which of the following is the best representation of your view?

  1. I don’t agree with your overall analysis.
  2. I agree with the overall analysis, but I think Republican transgressions are indeed evils contributing to the inexcusable. Especially ____________!
  3. I agree with the analysis, and I can’t think of any Republic transgressions that bad. I think I’ll start voting Republican again.
  4. I don’t care what you say! I won’t vote for traitors!
  5. They can’t even be trusted to do less evil, so what’s the point?
  6. Dude, you’re such a weirdo. Talk like a normal person!
  7. I don’t even like this topic. I’m going to go read something else.
  8. I got bored a long time ago and didn’t even read this far.

There are 64 comments.

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  1. user_1050 Member
    user_1050
    @MattBartle

    I’m on the same page. I usually put it this way:

    Republicans will do the wrong thing 50% of the time, but Democrats will do the wrong thing 95% of the time.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    I essentially agree with you.

    In every major election match-up I can recall voting in, at the national or state level, I can point to at least one issue that to me made it entirely worthwhile to go to the polls.  It does not matter if the Republican is indistinguishable from the Democrat on certain issues.  It matters if he is significantly different enough to matter on one issue.

    The continued existence of the D.C. school choice program and the utter failure of the latest federal gun-control grab are, to me, sufficient justification for voting Republican in the last two elections.

    I think some people believe that voting Republican even when they go wobbly encourages wobbliness.  I disagree with this analysis; I think staying home encourages wobbliness just as much.

    • #2
  3. BastiatJunior Inactive
    BastiatJunior
    @BastiatJunior

    Good post, Augustine.

    Behaviorally speaking, I’m a solid C, for the reasons you described.

    But sometimes I wonder.  What if you look at future election cycles?  If Gore had won in 2000, what kind of shape would the left be in today?  Better or worse?  I don’t know.

    Clearly Bush was a better president than Al Gore would have been, but his mismanagement of the economy and refusal to defend conservative principles gave us Barack Obama.  The toxic left is on a tear right now.

    On the other hand, maybe the left is jumping the shark and their heyday is coming to an end.  In that case, the election of Bush was a good thing.

    I vote Republican every time, but always with a bit of soul searching.

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Thanks, you three!

    Rather nicely put, Bartle!

    Nothing to add, BastiatJunior.  Soul-searching indeed.  (And what a nice name you have.)

    Leigh, you say “I think some people believe that voting Republican even when they go wobbly encourages wobbliness.  I disagree with this analysis; I think staying home encourages wobbliness just as much.

    Seems plausible enough to me.  But I’m not sure what causes Republican wobbliness.  I’d like to hear more on the subject from the Ricochetti.

    • #4
  5. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Put me down too. I agree with you. Completely.

    No single elected official can ever bring the Washington, D.C., Yes, Minister civil service in line, but at least we can populate the bureau chiefs with some Republicans who are always better managers than Democrats.

    Some of our philosophies will be in place for as long as there is a Republican at the top of the organization chart.

    It’s not perfect, but it is better.

    • #5
  6. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    Our constitutional system is based upon the ability to form a majority. For example a majority of electoral votes is required for the presidency, not a plurality. That’s why our system is a two-party system by necessity. More than two parties, and it’s hard to get a majority.

    So the reason you vote for one party or the other is simply because it’s the closest to what you believe. It’s the one whose platform you are closest to. You recognize the fact that you have to get enough like minded people together to form a majority, even though not everyone within that majority will agree on every point. To vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting at all, or to vote for a party that you disagree with on most things just to make a point, is arrogant. It’s a denial of the importance that our system places on majoritarianism.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @CalvinCoolidg

    Great post. Quitting, in my mind is not an option, so we’re left with what we’re left with. That may not seem like much, most of the time, but it’s better than nothing at all.

    • #7
  8. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Augustine:Seems plausible enough to me. But I’m not sure what causes Republican wobbliness. I’d like to hear more on the subject from the Ricochetti.

    I don’t think Republicans in general are uniquely wobbly, as politicians go.  If we looked at it from a liberal perspective we might think Democrats seem wobbly too more often than we do now.  Successful democratic politics requires a certain amount of compromise.  When you believe the issues involved in the compromise are essential to your liberty, you don’t appreciate that compromise.  Part of it is just that they’re politicians.

    But to the extent there’s anything unusual, here’s my theory: part of it is the influence of cultural forces.  Much of our culture — including our news and entertainment — is dominated by New York and California.  The East Coast and the West… the two primary bastions of liberalism.  Liberals can afford to let their politicians take the easy route and let these forces drum their message into the culture: witness the recent shift on marriage, which did not come from any Democratic politicians taking bold courageous stands.  Meanwhile, conservatives think the answer to this is to try to pressure a political party to stand firm and be more persuasive.  We’re asking them to do a job political parties don’t naturally do well.  An individual leader can take a stand and shift the polls.  As a rule, though, political parties respond to cultural shifts.  They don’t create them.

    And that’s why I don’t think staying home works.  It just means your voice wasn’t counted.  Also, if conservatives vote for the Republican and he wins, he owes something to you.  If they stay home, he doesn’t need you and he knows it.  (That’s one of the risks of a primary challenge.  It may be justified, but it’s risky.)

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Bob W:Our constitutional system is based upon the ability to form a majority. For example a majority of electoral votes is required for the presidency, not a plurality.That’s why our system is a two-party system by necessity.More than two parties, and it’s hard to get a majority.

    So the reason you vote for one party or the other is simply because it’s the closest to what you believe. It’s the one whose platform you are closest to. You recognize the fact that you have to get enough like minded people together to form a majority, even though not everyone within that majority will agree on every point.To vote for third parties, or to refrain from voting at all, or to vote for a party that you disagree with on most things just to make a point, is arrogant.It’s a denial of the importance that our system places on majoritarianism.

    Nice analysis!

    If there are any Ricochetti optimistic about prospects for a third party, I would like to hear from them.  As things stand now, I don’t see how a third party movement as such can succeed.

    But a Libertarian or a Tea Party or just a plain old Conservative revolt against the GOP in the primaries might go a long way: maybe 20% or 50% of the way it wants to go, but that’s a long longer than the 0% a third party movement seems capable of right now.

    • #9
  10. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Leigh:

    . . . part of it is the influence of cultural forces. Much of our culture — including our news and entertainment — is dominated by New York and California. The East Coast and the West… the two primary bastions of liberalism. Liberals can afford to let their politicians take the easy route and let these forces drum their message into the culture . . . . Meanwhile, conservatives think the answer to this is to try to pressure a political party to stand firm and be more persuasive. We’re asking them to do a job political parties don’t naturally do well. . . . . As a rule, though, political parties respond to cultural shifts. They don’t create them.

    Agreed!  “We’re asking them to do a job political parties don’t naturally do well”: I’ve either read that at National Review or heard it on Ricochet podcasts.

    I would add not only the geographical sum of cultural leftist influences: East and West coasts.  I would add the institutional sum of cultural leftist influences: education and media.  So we must keep talking about education at Ricochet!

    • #10
  11. Limestone Cowboy Coolidge
    Limestone Cowboy
    @LimestoneCowboy

    Hi Augustine.

    For the record I’ve consistently voted Republican since I became a US citizen. Before that I voted for the Conservative party in Canada.

    In my part of Texas the Republican generally wins, so a lot of what you say does not apply to me. But I pay a lot of attention to primaries, and especially primary runoffs, and not just in Texas.

    I donate in regular small amounts to the most conservative (viable) candidate early in the cycle, a especially in the runoff. I take little pride in helping Senator Cruz defeat Lt. Gov Dewhurst in a runoff, and in helping Senator Rubio defeat Charlie Crist. I tried to help Rocochet’s own Illiniguy (Steve Reick) in his race for an Illinois Assembly seat. No joy on that one. But sometimes a large number of small contributions to a primary challenger who will almost certainly lose can send a message to an favored incumbent. That message is “We are watching you”.

    If I may suggest to my Republican Ricochet friends, in a primary you (and your money) have much more influence than in a general election,  In a runoff election, which generally have sparse voter interest, you have orders of magnitude more influence than in the general.

    I  never contribute to the official generic Republican Party… they’re a status quo group dedicated to self preservation. I contribute directly to candidates.

    • #11
  12. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Augustine:

    I would add not only the geographical sum of cultural leftist influences: East and West coasts. I would add the institutional sum of cultural leftist influences: education and media. So we must keep talking about education at Ricochet!

    Yes, education…

    • #12
  13. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Limestone Cowboy:If I may suggest to my Republican Ricochet friends, in a primary you (and your money) have much more influence than in a general election, In a runoff election, which generally have sparse voter interest, you have orders of magnitude more influence than in the general.

    On a related note, I personally feel more responsibility in a local election than a big national one.  My vote is a tiny drop either way, but it’s a less tiny percentage in the smaller lake than in the ocean.  Local politics tend to be tricky to figure out and often deadly boring, but they matter.

    • #13
  14. user_494971 Contributor
    user_494971
    @HankRhody

    A, B, and a dash of F.

    Your analysis is essentially correct on the moral scale. The problem is that real world moral questions can’t (usually) be counted in dead jews.

    What makes the Democrats evil? And what makes the Republicans less so? Your analysis works if you think of abortion as “The Democrats want more abortions, and the Republicans don’t want any.” But if you’re looking at it going “The Democrats want more abortions, and so do the Republicans, but the Republicans will fight ineffectually to earn our votes” Then there’s very little reason to vote R.

    • #14
  15. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Hank Rhody:What makes the Democrats evil? And what makes the Republicans less so? Your analysis works if you think of abortion as “The Democrats want more abortions, and the Republicans don’t want any.” But if you’re looking at it going “The Democrats want more abortions, and so do the Republicans, but the Republicans will fight ineffectually to earn our votes” Then there’s very little reason to vote R.

    But it’s never as simple as that, either.

    First, it’s very rare that the specific Republican actually wants more abortion but pretends otherwise for political reasons.  More often, the cynical politician doesn’t care that much and will do whatever seems politically expedient.

    Second, it’s not about electing one person, it’s about creating a majority.  Even if your specific Republican is pro-life only to stay in office, he’s part of a majority that enables certain things to come up for a vote and eventually to save lives.  I think we could count on it that every single pro-life piece of legislation in this country, at the national or state level, has passed with the votes of at least some legislators who had no real convictions.  In many cases, it probably depended on those votes.  There are still some places where those cultural factors work the other way.

    • #15
  16. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Hank Rhody:What makes the Democrats evil? And what makes the Republicans less so? Your analysis works if you think of abortion as “The Democrats want more abortions, and the Republicans don’t want any.” But if you’re looking at it going “The Democrats want more abortions, and so do the Republicans, but the Republicans will fight ineffectually to earn our votes” Then there’s very little reason to vote R.

    Well, counting abortion on demand as an evil contribution to which is inexcusable, if the Democrats want more and the Republicans want more and are actually going to contribute to increasing it, then I guess we can’t vote Republican.

    If they want more but aren’t going to do anything to increase it, we’re ok to vote for them.

    This one, at least, isn’t a problem for the party as a whole, which is divided but leans (at least nominally) pro-life.  But it’s a big problem for some candidates.  (As a Texas voter, I am usually spared from it.)

    • #16
  17. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Leigh:

    Second, it’s not about electing one person, it’s about creating a majority. Even if your specific Republican is pro-life only to stay in office, he’s part of a majority that enables certain things to come up for a vote and eventually to save lives.

    In fact, if it ever came up for me I would probably at least consider voting for a pro-abortion Republican if it contributed a pro-life Republican majority that would do some good.

    • #17
  18. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Lesser of two weevils

    The lesser of two weevils is still an insect.

    • #18
  19. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    I agree with you.

    Please read my short post from just this last Saturday, “Voting is not a Vanity Project.” I say approximately the same thing.

    Keep up the good work.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Augustine:

    Leigh:

    Second, it’s not about electing one person, it’s about creating a majority. Even if your specific Republican is pro-life only to stay in office, he’s part of a majority that enables certain things to come up for a vote and eventually to save lives.

    In fact, if it ever came up for me I would probably at least consider voting for a pro-abortion Republican if it contributed a pro-life Republican majority that would do some good.

    Or if the pro-abortion Republican also happened to be very strong on, say, national defense or religious freedom or education?  Or if the whole thing is happening in California?

    I’d struggle with this if there were another option on the ballot.  If it were just the two, and assuming the Democrat is as bad or worse on abortion… my vote is a choice between available options, not an endorsement.

    • #20
  21. Fake John Galt Coolidge
    Fake John Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    I vote Republican. Why? Because I am a registered Democrat.

    • #21
  22. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @CalvinCoolidg

    Fake John Galt:I vote Republican.Why?Because I am a registered Democrat.

    Brilliant!

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Carey J.:Lesser of two weevils

    The lesser of two weevils is still an insect.

    Indeed.

    I’m not about praising weevils here, just trying to have smaller ones when we’re stuck with weevils.

    (Although I am frequently pleased with Republican candidates.  I really don’t think of the Republicans as a party of weevils.)

    • #23
  24. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:Lesser of two weevils

    The lesser of two weevils is still an insect.

    Indeed.

    I’m not about praising weevils here, just trying to have smaller ones when we’re stuck with weevils.

    (Although I am frequently pleased with Republican candidates. I really don’t think of the Republicans as a party of weevils.)

    Thad Cochran is more like a cockroach, the sorriest SOB in the Senate, and an argument for never voting Republican again.

    • #24
  25. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Carey J.:

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:Lesser of two weevils

    The lesser of two weevils is still an insect.

    Indeed.

    I’m not about praising weevils here, just trying to have smaller ones when we’re stuck with weevils.

    (Although I am frequently pleased with Republican candidates. I really don’t think of the Republicans as a party of weevils.)

    Thad Cochran is more like a cockroach, the sorriest SOB in the Senate, and an argument for never voting Republican again.

    Was this the one where the Republican Party apparatus did shady things to defeat a primary challenger?

    And is that A or B?

    A. I don’t agree with your overall analysis.

    B. I agree with the overall analysis, but I think Republican transgressions are indeed evils contribution to which is totally inexcusable. Especially ____________!

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @CalvinCoolidg

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:Lesser of two weevils

    The lesser of two weevils is still an insect.

    Indeed.

    I’m not about praising weevils here, just trying to have smaller ones when we’re stuck with weevils.

    (Although I am frequently pleased with Republican candidates. I really don’t think of the Republicans as a party of weevils.)

    Thad Cochran is more like a cockroach, the sorriest SOB in the Senate, and an argument for never voting Republican again.

    Was this the one where the Republican Party apparatus did shady things to defeat a primary challenger?

    And is that A or B?

    A. I don’t agree with your overall analysis.

    B. I agree with the overall analysis, but I think Republican transgressions are indeed evils contribution to which is totally inexcusable. Especially ____________!

    I don’t want to speak for Carey, but it’s probably a combination of both. And Thad Cockroach, I mean Cochran, is what Carey says he is.

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @SaintAugustine

    Calvin Coolidg:

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:

    Thad Cochran is more like a cockroach, the sorriest SOB in the Senate, and an argument for never voting Republican again.

    Was this the one where the Republican Party apparatus did shady things to defeat a primary challenger?

    And is that A or B?

    Augustine:A. I don’t agree with your overall analysis.

    B. I agree with the overall analysis, but I think Republican transgressions are indeed evils contribution to which is totally inexcusable. Especially ____________!

    I don’t want to speak for Carey, but it’s probably a combination of both. And Thad Cockroach, I mean Cochran, is what Carey says he is.

    Or maybe I need to add a new category: I don’t care what you say! I won’t vote for traitors! or They can’t even be trusted to do less evil, so what’s the point?

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @CalvinCoolidg

    Augustine:

    Calvin Coolidg:

    Augustine:

    Carey J.:

    Thad Cochran is more like a cockroach, the sorriest SOB in the Senate, and an argument for never voting Republican again.

    Was this the one where the Republican Party apparatus did shady things to defeat a primary challenger?

    And is that A or B?

    Augustine:A. I don’t agree with your overall analysis.

    B. I agree with the overall analysis, but I think Republican transgressions are indeed evils contribution to which is totally inexcusable. Especially ____________!

    I don’t want to speak for Carey, but it’s probably a combination of both. And Thad Cockroach, I mean Cochran, is what Carey says he is.

    Or maybe I need to add a new category: I don’t care what you say! I won’t vote for traitors! or They can’t even be trusted to do less evil, so what’s the point?

    Some might say. Edit that as letter “G”. The sad part is is that this is where we’re at with our own party. You have to do a survey to find out how much they’re hated. Ugh

    • #28
  29. user_494971 Contributor
    user_494971
    @HankRhody

    Leigh:

    Augustine:

    Leigh:

    Second, it’s not about electing one person, it’s about creating a majority. Even if your specific Republican is pro-life only to stay in office, he’s part of a majority that enables certain things to come up for a vote and eventually to save lives.

    In fact, if it ever came up for me I would probably at least consider voting for a pro-abortion Republican if it contributed a pro-life Republican majority that would do some good.

    Or if the pro-abortion Republican also happened to be very strong on, say, national defense or religious freedom or education? Or if the whole thing is happening in California?

    I’d struggle with this if there were another option on the ballot. If it were just the two, and assuming the Democrat is as bad or worse on abortion… my vote is a choice between available options, not an endorsement.

    Why do you think a secretly pro-choice republican will vote pro life? Look at the senate vote earlier this year. It failed despite an R majority, losing key votes who had previously supported the same law when it had no chance to win.

    I’d go down the rest of the list, but I’m feeling bitter enough as it is.

    • #29
  30. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Don’t vote: You’re screwed.

    Vote Democrat: You’re very screwed.

    Vote third party: See “Vote Democrat”

    Vote Republican: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

    • #30

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