I am not surprised that my comments on not supporting Romney generated some interest, and I would like to engage with some comments that were made here. I thought the disagreement was on point and respectful for the most part, and since Dr. Brian Mattson has pushed his blue chips out to the middle of the green velvet, I would like to do the same thing.
His objection to my approach is that it constitutes a “pragmatic misanthropy,” and this is said because real people will suffer under an Obama presidency, which I was willing to risk by not throwing my lot in with the Romney camp.
But politics is personal, which means that we don’t get to vote for raw conservative “principles.” We vote for people, after they tell us what they stand for. When they have done that, we then decide if we believe them or not. If we could just vote for a generic “conservatism” over against a generic “liberalism,” the conservatives would take it walking away. But there is a mystery here. How can a center-right country (such as we are) keep moving steadily left? The answer is that electorate keeps getting double-crossed.
I do have a moral obligation (to real people) to vote in a way that will transfer out to a real blessing for others. I believe that I do have a moral obligation to pray, work, labor, write and vote conservatively. But I don’t have a moral obligation to believe what Mitt Romney says.
It is not sophistry to hire Smith instead of Murphy, when I believe what Smith is telling me, and I don’t believe Murphy. Their paper qualifications might be the same, and they might tell me exactly the same things during the interview. But I believe one and I don’t believe the other, and it is not necessarily unethical to not believe somebody. I believed that Sarah Palin had the desire, charisma, and ability to make the life issues take center stage and stay there. I don’t believe that of Romney. Why don’t I believe him? Guess.
I argued that the slim chances of a liberty revolt were (slightly) better with a second Obama administration. I know (and said) that’s a judgment call which could well be wrong. For example, I would have thought that Obama’s predations on the commonweal thus far in his first term would have been more than enough to provoke a king-sized tax revolt — but he did all that damage to the Republic, and then we nominated Mitt Romney right back at him. We conservative political activists sure wield a mean nerf bat. We tea partiers have decided to pelt the commie with wadded up kleenex balls. And we are being very stern.
Brian says that there is nothing principled about this view of mine.
“But abstractions are just that: abstractions. What is blithely ignored in Doug’s analysis is that his plan involves real suffering. Real economic stagnation and/or collapse. Real houses under water. Real 401(k) accounts depleted. Real babies aborted. Real medical death panels. Real Supreme Court appointments. Real Iranian nukes. Real race and class divisions and conflict. Doug’s plan does not involve disembodied, abstract, gnostic “principles,” but flesh-and-blood realities.”
No, I understand the real pain involved in this. There is no “blithely ignoring” of anything. I am not ignoring the real damage that Obama has done. But neither am I ignoring the fact Obama was enabled to do all this damage by the Republicans who preceeded him, and who provided him with many of the tools. Why was he even in a position to do this damage?
In my original piece I acknowledged that Romney might be moved in a sane and conservative direction. If he is elected, I sure hope that happens. And I was not saying that I hope Obama wins. I actually hope he goes down like three McGoverns at once. If I wanted him to win in a “bring on the judgment” kind of way, I should actually vote for him. A Romney victory could be good in a number of identifiable ways (think Supreme Court). I was simply arguing for my right to not bet on it, believing as I do that the odds clearly favor the house — and that the house is not my friend. If the Republican establishment would like me to believe them more, they should stop lying to me so much. Just a thought.
Think of it this way. Why do I have my doubts about Romney’s conservatism? He has just finished spending months and millions carpet-bombing men who were demonstrably more conservative than he is. Or were we supposed not to notice that?
Brian then asks this . . .
“What’s a little “creative destruction” of real people and real wealth to achieve a desired political end? Forgive me if this strikes me as extraordinarily glib and misanthropic. It is frankly immoral to wish catastrophe on people in pursuit of one’s agenda.”
But I am not deciding between catastrophe on the one hand and rainbows, fluffy clouds and unicorns on the other. I am deciding between rapid fire catastrophe and slow motion catastrophe. I am deciding between a fiery death in a plane crash or three years in a cancer ward. I am David trying to decide between 7 years of famine, 3 months of hotfooting it, or 3 days of pestilence (2 Sam. 24:12-13). David accepted the options in front of him, and did not ask Gad why “his best life now” was not on the list.
When David choose the pestilence, he was not wishing catastrophe on others in some immoral way. The immorality was to be found in the previous choices that led to the judgment. In our case, a bunch of those previous choices have been made by Republicans and Democrats together. If we want to talk about immorality, let’s talk some about that.
I am deciding between the Evil Party and the Stupid Party. And the dilemma of my first post is this: would I rather have Evil be called Evil or Stupidity called Good? I understand the pressures to opt for the latter (yet again). Believe me, I feel the pressures. But . . . I really think we need to figure out a way to quit this.
Update: David Bahnsen has written about this issue here, which I hope to get to shortly. I am traveling tomorrow, so it might be after that.