"Pragmatic" idolatry: The Republican Party is a false god

I am so sick of the “pragmatic” argument for stopping Hillary Clinton from becoming President at any cost that I literally want to vomit. I see this all the time from “conservatives” who justify voting for any Republican, no matter how flawed and no matter what his ideology, just to oppose Mrs. Clinton.

A friend of mine on Facebook described the argument like this:

This is the statement of someone who has intellectually and morally checked out. This sort of cynical and supposedly pragmatic thinking has left the Republican Party in shambles, with no real leadership or discernible reason for being.

The argument goes something like this:

“Oh, well, I know this Republican is a pro-abortion extremist who defends partial-birth abortion, and he has a long history of being anti-gun, and he is for same-sex marriage, and he openly praises Communist butchers and murderers, and he brags about his plans to murder innocent people including women and children, and he wants to strictly limit free speech.”

“I know he is also a nasty, foul-mouthed bully, and he is a thin-skinned crybaby who throws a temper tantrum any time he gets even mild criticism, and he donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel and tens of thousands more to other far-Left Democrats, and he praised ObamaCare, and he has repeatedly abandoned his wives for younger women. However, he is just a shade better than Hillary Clinton so I will vote for him. Any Republican is better than a Democrat!”

This is not just a case where someone has sold out his principles. No, this is much worse both in this life and eternally, and someone has to say it. This is idolatry, and it is shocking and disgusting to see self-proclaimed Christians making this argument. This is making the Republican Party into a god, and I have no patience for it. The Republican Party is not god. Jesus Christ is God and we know from 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 that if you worship anything else you worship demons. Repent!

In defense of "partisanship"

People love to complain about “partisanship” and the resulting inability to “get things done” but I do not think many of them realize what they are saying or asking for when they complain about it. In fact, “partisanship” is a good thing, and should be applauded. The inability to “get things done” is actually a feature built into the Constitution, not a flaw in the document.

Of course, I am not defending pure partisanship and the slavish devotion to a particular party that comes along with it. I am a Republican, and political alliances are necessary in order to operate effectively in our political system. But few things frustrate me more than double standards and hypocrisy. It is thoroughly disgusting to see Republicans condemn Democrats for doing something and then either defending or even applauding Republicans for doing the exact same thing. This, of course, works both ways.

No, what I am actually talking about is principle, which is why “partisanship” is in quotes above. People of good faith can disagree on policy out of principle, rather than the need to defend a particular clique. Many times, the end goal for two sides might be different, but even people with the same end goal might disagree on how to get there. Conservatives and liberals largely agree that it is good public policy to reduce childhood obesity, for example, but conservatives would not favor action by the federal government to achieve that goal.

There is a reason that the Constitution broke the legislative branch into a higher and lower chamber, and gave the President veto power that can only be overridden after meeting the high supermajority hurdle. Treaties must be approved by a supermajority as well. There is a reason that Supreme Court justices must be approved by the Senate, instead of giving the President authority to do as he pleases. The legislative process was always intended to be slow and deliberate. We have seen what happens when things are rushed through, from the significant expansion of federal power in the so-called “Patriot Act” to the debacle of ObamaCare.

More importantly, there is a reason that power was originally designed to be split between the sovereign states and a very limited federal government!

Instead of condemning “partisanship” (more often principled opposition or legitimate disagreement) we should be thankful for it. “Partisanship” has often restrained the urge to “do something” that would have been ineffective, counterproductive or even destructive. “Partisanship” helps cool the passion to “do something” in the heat of the moment without thinking it through. “Partisanship” is one of the most important tools we have to defend our liberty, and it has worked to protect us when practiced by both Republicans and Democrats.

Spending cuts and laws that work

Here are two short thoughts on two different issues.

Spending cuts

Back in 2001, I said that “cutting or reducing the rate of growth in (government social programs) does not actually take money from the poor.” The second part of that statement is obviously true on its face. Reducing the rate of growth is not a cut – the amount of spending is still increasing, though it is increasing by a smaller amount.

But even if you actually did cut benefits, it would not actively take away anything. This is because social welfare spending is by definition something that is not earned. It is something given to beneficiaries. They are still getting a benefit, they are just getting a smaller one. That clearly does not take away money the poor already have.at.

Laws that work

Is it intellectually inconsistent for gun-rights advocates to argue that gun laws do not keep criminals from getting guns, but support laws that attempt to make voter fraud illegal or criminalize things like murder and rape? The distinction we need to think about here is a morally neutral activity like owning guns or buying pseudoephedrine is very different from an activity we want to eliminate or at least greatly reduce.

Murder, rape and voter fraud are things that are wrong on their face. While no law will ever eliminate crime, we make these things illegal anyway because we recognize they are wrong and do our best to minimize the behavior.

Buying guns or pseudoephedrine are morally neutral activities. Laws restricting the right to own guns or buy pseudoephedrine will not keep criminals from getting guns illegally or manufacturing meth, but will restrict the liberty of law abiding citizens. That is what is unacceptable about unreasonable restrictions on both.

Even if the Hartes had marijuana, a SWAT raid is outrageous

The case of Robert and Addie Harte is completely outrageous. The family was terrorized by a SWAT raid despite the fact that the “probable cause” for the raid was flimsy at best. (Radley Balko has written extensively about this case.) But the raid would have been completely outrageous even if they were guilty.

The police mistook loose-leaf tea for marijuana, and raided the Hartes’ home in an April 20 publicity stunt. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the Hartes were actually growing marijuana. (They were not, of course.) Was a paramilitary SWAT raid, complete with a battering ram to knock down the door if the Hartes did not answer, a prudent use of police power? No, it was not – and that should be obvious to everyone.

The purpose of SWAT is to go in with overwhelming force to deal with high-risk situations that are too dangerous for traditional police tactics. These include things such as terrorist attacks, barricaded suspects, active shooters and hostage situations. But these situations are rare. SWAT teams are increasingly used on non-violent suspects, and often create violence. One such case was a 92 year old woman in Atlanta who thought she was the victim of a home invasion and was gunned down by SWAT officers.

The Hartes had no history of violent crime. There was no need or justification for a SWAT raid. The police could have showed up unannounced with a search warrant and went through the house. A traditional search warrant would have been much less traumatic and would not have carried the potential for violence. The real question here should not be whether the search warrant was justified. The real question here is why the police are conducting paramilitary raids on suspects with no history of violence instead of simply serving a search warrant.

Vote for Tibbs in 2016

No, I am not running for office this year. I will, however, be on the ballot in the May 3 Republican primary election.

I filed my papers last week to run for state convention delegate. The state convention delegates will vote on the state party’s platform and we will also choose the Republican nominees for attorney general, superintendent of public instruction and lieutenant governor. So while Republican primary voters do not get to choose the candidates for those offices directly, the voters to get to choose indirectly by choosing state convention delegates.

A little about myself. I have been a Republican activist for twenty years, starting with the IU College Republicans in 1995 and multiple election cycles since then. I am the incumbent Republican precinct committeeman in Perry 5, having won elections in 2008 and a close three-way contest in 2012. I ran for Bloomington Township Board in 2006 and I ran for an at-large seat on the Bloomington City Council last year. I have been an active writer, promoting conservative values in the public square for two decades.

It is important that we elect conservative delegates to the state convention because of current pressures on the party to compromise conservative values. It is especially disappointing to see this with Republican supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. Because delegates vote on the party platform, Republican primary voters can have a voice on that process by electing conservative state convention delegates.

If you live in Perry Township, I will be on your ballot in the May 3 primary election. I humbly ask for your vote.