Pragmatic Politics?

Rev. Doug Wilson, whose blog I read regularly, has recently been writing a bunch of posts arguing that a vote for Mitt Romney, presumptive Republican presidential candidate, would be immoral.  Meanwhile, my roommate Trent, who recently moved his blog, has been proclaiming up and down for I believe the entire last year or more that Romney will win the nomination (check) despite being a poor-to-middling candidate (I agree with reservations, having been myself most taken with Santorum) who will lose in November (the jury is quite obviously out) - and that he, Trent, would vote for him, Romney, anyway on the basis of pragmatism.

Rev. Wilson's position is basically that Romney has no principles whatsoever and that moderation is not the way to go.  Despite his dismissal of the point, I cannot help but think that he would consider things a little more seriously if he did not live in Idaho.  Meanwhile my roommate, like many people voting for Romney, will be (presumably) voting for him as the not-Obama - strangely like many people voted for Obama as the not-Bush, except that Obama's economy is at least as bad and no one with a major media voice - except, sometimes, FOX - is blaming him.

I tend to side with my roommate on this one.  Not for lack of principles, as Rev. Wilson suggests must be the case, but perhaps for a different set of priorities.  Let me review the bidding.

The incumbent President has the solid backing of his party and all the votes that entails.

The Republican candidate - we can assume it is Romney - has the only natural voter base to challenge Obama.  Two notes here: First, this is the reason I am still convinced that, had he won the primary, Santorum (or, to take even more of an outlier, Ron Paul) would have been a creditable challenger.  He would have the party machine behind him - and either of those two men would have the further advantage of being more clearly men of some principles (whatever their failings).  Romney is for all practical purposes, by damning reputation if not actual fact, nothing more than a good politician.  Granted this is better than being a proven outright liar - or at least overseer of liars - like the current President.  There is, I believe, a moral difference between Playing The Game and The Big Lie.  Second, either way, the way forward will lie in Congress.

For good or bad - I think it is mostly bad - we have a two-party system.  I believe the Republican party, at least in its modern incarnation, is on the way out.  Its base is already split between managerialists and what we call the Tea Party - which is to say, limited government Constitutionalists - while the Democratic party drifts determinedly Left.  But for the time being, the GOP is the game in town.  When the ChiSox and the Braves are playing in the World Series, everybody loses no matter who wins, but the games still get played.  (Insert your own most hated teams to achieve the desired effect.)

Now, maybe the time has come to step out of the game.  Maybe we are looking at the Black Sox, and an accounting must be made.  There is only one problem with taking that line now.  It is far too late in this cycle to form any alternative scheme, short of getting a Medal of Honor winner - or other person who simply cannot be ignored - to run.  Is this happening?  Does Rev. Wilson have the clout to make that happen?  If the litmus test was the immoral mainstreaming of the Republican party line as he makes out, then the alternative plan should have been begun the moment the returns revealed McCain won the last primary - or before.  Say, somewhere about the time the first Bush reneged on taxes.  Pick an event you dislike.

The saying runs that offering criticism is easier than offering solutions.  Filling a pointless dot in on a ballot is even easier.  Nevertheless, if you want to turn down what appears to be the only viable candidate, it is, in my opinion, incumbent on the one going outside the system to have an alternative plan.  Rev. Wilson, as far as I can tell, has no plan.  He has decided that Romney is not moral enough to vote for - I wonder what he would make of the apostle Paul's advice with regards to the emperor Nero? - and that is that.  Whom he will actually vote for, I do not know: he, I would guess, does not know either.

In summary, Rev. Wilson is trying to make into a moral judgment something that is a practical problem.  I am not saying there are not moral issues at stake.  Obviously there are.  What we are looking at is application of the morals.  That there are no good solutions at present is as obvious as the problems.  To plagiarize or at least appropriate Aquinas, one of the conditions of a just political policy has to be that it actually stands a chance of working.  Electing Romney might happen; Romney elected with a competent and responsible Congress as well would likely be reasonably effective; Romney elected with another overspending farce of a Congress might be willing to pull a Coolidge and start vetoing things.  Electing [unknown] will not happen in today's media climate; even a competent and responsible Congress will clearly get nothing done in the face of a re-elected Obama's intransigence.

I, for now, unless I am persuaded to do something else, am planning to vote for Romney.  I do not trust him; I do not trust power; and I think the important thing is Congress, anyhow, since they pass the laws (though things like that goofy HHS mandate should be alerting us that not everybody thinks so, and by "not everybody thinks so" I mean "President Obama thinks he can just issue orders which amount to law", which is why a second term in office could end in more disaster than we have seen already).

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