A recent post at Conservablogs.com concerned a regular Conservablogs contributor, Nuke Gingrich, and a friend of his who was so distraught with Nuke’s support of Mike Huckabee he ended their friendship. He took down his link to Nuke’s blog and it appears he’ll have nothing to do with Nuke any longer. Nuke quotes his friend
â€œWeâ€™ve known each other for some time now, and frankly I just canâ€™t understand your support for the huckster. Heâ€™s a RINO who, if nominated, will totally destroy the Republican party. Populism is not conservatism, and this is the candidate you expect to unite the party and face the DemocRats in November???!!!â€
â€He went on to tell me that he couldnâ€™t in good conscience link back to my blog anymore, and that anyone who was willing to abandon the principles of conservatism did not deserve a spot on his blogroll.â€
There are two goals people work for in a Primary. The first is to nominate someone who best represents them, their values and their ideology. The second is nominating someone to stop the opposition candidate who is presumed to have values and ideologies antithetical to theirs. Common sense ought to tell us the candidate able to do one thing may not be the candidate able to do the other.
The situation for candidates to avoid is being so polarizing during the Primary you alienate those with differing views in the General election. Whoever wins the Primary must be able to bring supporters of his Primary opponents together and unite them behind him.
This â€œlead a horse to waterâ€ factor, so agonizingly demonstrated for us by Nuke’s friend, is critical as the Primary process not only has two goals, it assumes two things. The first is that candidates defeated in the Primary will graciously support the nominee. The second is that supporters of candidates defeated in the Primary will do likewise. At the end of the day, what does a voter do if his candidate isn’t nominated? What happens if voters won’t honor the agreement implicit in the process and rally behind the nominee even if, and especially if, he’s not their choice?
There’s really only one option left to voters who won’t â€“ stay home. The impracticality of encouraging and enabling an entire nation of disappointed and discouraged voters to write in their candidate makes that merely a low percentage option as opposed to any sort of realistic probability. Opting out of the process is the only serious option available. It also violates the second goal and the second assumption of the Primary process.
Truthfully, I’ve always been both skeptical of and a wee bit disgusted with the Primary process. It’s a scheme whereby one candidate spends months savaging the others. He sincerely declares, across the country and in the media, what a disaster it would be if his opponents were elected. Later, when one emerges victorious from the pack, the nominee is proclaimed as the savior of the country by the very people who a week earlier seriously argued the nominee’s policies would destroy us all. It makes us look ridiculous.
Gone is the passion directed against his Primary opponent. He was just mistaken before. It’s not his good friend’s policies that are dangerous, it’s the other party’s nominee that is the devil incarnate and whose policies are disastrous. His final act is to beseech his supporters to give the same level of support and devotion to the new guy. It makes one wonder what, if anything, we truly believe? Perhaps the passion of Nuke’s friend is a better position to take. It’s surely a prime necessity to win the fight for the nomination of someone who best represents us as an individual.
But it also reveals the ultimate danger we face in the Primary process â€“ allowing it to divide us. Beyond the search for someone to represent us as an individual, the Primary also determines which candidate we unite behind as a group. As hard as it is to say and hear, that group is called a party. And it’s a party Primary more than it is an individual Primary.
If party choices revealed in the Primary process are offensive, the only option with integrity is to leave the party entirely and avoid the conflict altogether. If you stay in the party, however, you implicitly buy into the process as it exists. Primaries are not either/or situations where we either support this candidate or we fracture and separate. They are a both/and dynamic where we both commit to fight for all we are worth for our candidate and commit to support whoever comes out on top â€“ even if it’s not our guy. For all his valuable and desirable passion, Nuke’s friend misses that point. Badly.
Thinking he also misses the truth of the maxim â€œThe enemy of my enemy is my friendâ€ …