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“The pacifist does nothing to decrease war. On the contrary, he promotes it to the utmost of his power by ensuring, insofar as in him lies, that the war-makers shall have their reward. Pacifism is thus warmongery complicated by defeatism. The pacifist is not interested in political realities. He is interested only in his own clear conscience. Let the world be given over to the sword, his conscience is clear so long as he did not himself draw a sword. That he forced others to draw it is nothing to him.” — R.G. Collingwood
This reminded me of a ‘discussion’ I had with an acknowledged libertarian. Perhaps I should say we ‘discussed’ past each other, a not uncommon characteristic of my ‘discussions.’ I see a resemblance to some of the Trump vs. NeverTrump ‘discussions’ that have happened on Ricochet and elsewhere.
I think the similarity comes from what I see as an unwillingness to acknowledge the foreseeable consequences of an action when judging the propriety (I almost typed ‘morality’, but that would have been too judgemental… Not that there is anything wrong with @judgemental) of an action.
My ancient argument involved voting for or against Trump in either the Primary or the General Election. The libertarian (rather self-righteously, I thought) avowed that he would only vote for the candidate that most nearly matched his principles; it would be wrong to do otherwise, even if it meant the worst candidate in the field should prevail. It was important, in his eyes, to most accurately convey to The Powers That Be the true temper of the electorate. I argued (oops, I mean ‘discussed’) that it was not a neutral environment and his attitude was rather like a pacifist, free-riding on the existence of those non-pacifists who created the pacific milieu that allows for pacifism. I see the true libertarian as free-riding on the existing political system, which creates a bubble within which he can loftily proclaim dedication to principles because there are no personal consequences for doing so. (He then proclaimed that he had never said he was a pacifist, which effectively put the exchange beyond any hope of reconnecting.)
Similarly, the ongoing TvNT exchanges seem (to me) to ignore the political environment and the likely consequences of alternatives. I had only one reason to vote for Trump in 2016; he was not Hillary. I will admit to being averse to Trump’s public persona (I even held my nose and voted for Kasich in the Ohio primary for the single reason to try to stop Trump.) I will concede the risk that the Republican party may never return to those fondly-remembered glorious days of Goldwater/Reagan (when, of course, it was a highly-principled, small-government, high-moral-standards organization, notwithstanding individual members who appeared to the jaundiced eye to be conniving politicians.) I calculated (to 13 decimal places) that there was no way that Trump could do as much damage to the country as Hillary, simply because he did not have a political gang to implement stuff. Hillary did (does?).
Would you be willing to sacrifice the country to preserve the purity of the Republican Party? If not, and yet you are comfortable with the election of a Hillary or a Sanders (or, or …), then you must believe that the current Democratic Party is just another, normal political party that plays by the rules. I don’t think that describes the Ds anymore, so I would be willing to sacrifice the GOP if that is what it would take. (I maintain that I am the only true admitted RINO, as the squishes actually resemble the GOP rather closely, whereas I only associate with the name for tactical reasons.) I would rather try to reconstitute a ‘republican’ party with the ‘degenerate’ Republican Party in power than let the Dems restructure the nation.
And yet ….
Principles are not unimportant. Without a moderating structure to guide one, the natural competitive drive toward short-term gain devolves to organizational collapse. We could go there if it is no longer possible to meaningfully restrain regulations and spending, for example. I agree that an end does not justify any means, but how can you evaluate ‘means’ without considering the consequent ends? All ends, not just the one(s) admitted to in public. I can understand the opposition of those who fear that Trump will outbid his opposition if that is what is needed to further his (often laudable) goals. I can understand the desire to prevent this.
My question, though, is: “What is the alternative?”Published in