By Dan Fisher
When I was a kid playing with the others in my neighborhood, invariably, we’d have someone in our group who’d insist on getting their way or they’d threaten to go home. If we wanted to play football, they would threaten to go home if we didn’t play baseball. If we wanted to play “cowboys and Indians,” they would threaten to go home if we didn’t play “cops and robbers.” It was their way or the highway.
Now that I’m all grown up and “playing” with political conservatives, I’m encountering this same “all or nothing” attitude. Unfortunately, now we’re not playing football or cops and robbers; this game is for keeps. The outcome of this game will determine the future of our nation and the world our children and grandchildren will inherit.
Of course, we conservatives are known for our strong convictions and independent attitude so it shouldn’t surprise us when we’re not that good at compromise. I applaud this independence and stubbornness; I even encourage it. But if we’re going to take this country back, I believe we conservatives must learn how to “play” with one another. This “my way or the highway” attitude is going to, I fear, get us beaten time and time again. Certainly, there are some principles that we cannot compromise, but not every position is a “hill upon which we must die.”
Unfortunately for us, the liberals are much better at “playing with each other.” They have learned that wars are won one battle at a time rather than in one “fell swoop.” They have shown a willingness to take what they can, continue moving forward, gaining more ground, inch-by-inch until the war is won. Conservatives, on the other hand, seem convinced that if they can’t win the whole enchilada right now, they’ll just take their marbles and go home. I believe this is the very attitude that catapulted Pelosi and Reed into power in 2006.
Increasingly I’m hearing people say that since “their” candidate “X” didn’t win the primary, they’re not going to vote for conservative candidate “Y” in the general election. Insisting on the “perfect candidate” (apparently the one they supported), they refuse to support any other candidate. What’s even more mind-boggling is that they agree with conservative candidate “Y” on most issues.
This position doesn’t make any sense to me. Just because we can’t get everything we want in a candidate, are we willing to allow (or even assist by not voting) a liberal candidate with whom we hardly ever agree to win? In addition, are we going to shirk one of our greatest civic duties just because we don’t have the “perfect” candidate to vote for? The Founders believed that voting was not only a right, but also a responsibility for which we will ultimately answer to God. Consider Samuel Adams who said, “Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”
In Oklahoma, we have the opportunity in the primary election to vote for the person we think best represents our values and beliefs. But I believe that once the primary is over and a clear winner emerges, unless that winner does not represent the majority (not necessarily all) of our positions, we should support that candidate. To not vote or to vote for a third party candidate usually only puts someone into office who promotes the very things we stand against.
This strategy of “not voting to punish the conservatives” might work if conditions in America weren’t so desperate. Unfortunately, it appears we’re near the point of critical mass and if we don’t turn things around soon, we may not have a country left to save. Consider: we have replaced Judeo/Christian ethics with situational ethics, our president has filled his administration with self-avowed Communist/Maoists, our government has nationalized huge chunks of our economy, Congress passes sweeping legislation like national healthcare without even reading the bills, our president apologizes for America to every tyrannical, dictatorial thug in the world, our national debt is so large we’ll probably never repay it, our economy is tottering on the precipice of collapse. Now consider: in light of all this, some aren’t going to vote because the conservative candidate is not “conservative enough!”
Don’t get me wrong, I refuse to “knowingly” put one more RHINO into office. Like most of you, I am sickened by the way Republicans governed when they were in power. Even so, I’m just as unwilling to leave the field to the liberals simply because I don’t have the “perfect candidate” to vote for. Since America didn’t get into this mess overnight, it seems foolish to think that we’re going to get out of it by electing a few “perfect candidates.” We’ll have to fight this war one battle at a time and take our victories as we can get them.
During the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin is credited with making a statement that is appropriate at this point. As the delegates were each affixing their signatures to that venerable document that many considered their death warrant, Franklin mused, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Fellow conservatives, we best heed Franklin’s advice and learn how to “play with one another” or soon we may not be able to “play” at all.