The Conservative Case for Third Party and Independent Politics

At the Patriot Post, Mark Alexander asks whether third party conservatives are "fixers or spoilers," and considers the dilemma between "purism and pragmatism" felt by so many voters.  He writes:
Many Patriot readers have asked: "How should one vote when a third-party candidate is more conservative than the Republican offering? Should one vote for the lesser of two evils on the major party tickets? Is a vote for a third-party conservative a wasted vote or, worse, one that takes votes from a moderate on the ticket, and seats a Leftist?"
The answers, of course, depend on one's affinity for purism versus pragmatism, and the particular circumstances and consequences of each political contest.  Purists are those who rigorously and steadfastly adhere to established traditions and principles in the conduct of their affairs, in application both to individual and societal matters.  Pragmatists, on the other hand, are those who take a practical approach to arriving at solutions, even if that means supporting the lesser of two evils. They thus try to strike a balance between principles and practicality rather than take a strict ideological line.
He concludes:
in the opinion of this humble purist, who knows when to exercise some pragmatism, I suggest you vote early, and make your vote count! If you are faced with a choice between a third-party conservative and a Republican moderate, and you can vote for the most conservative candidate without seating a Leftist as a consequence, do so. If not, hold your nose and vote for the most electable conservative on the ticket.
By coincidence, the Wading Across blog also addressed this very same issue in a lengthy post today, but argues that the two-party system has become so dysfunctional that the so-called pragmatic option of working with and within the major parties is no longer viable:
The two party system is flawed, and yet we are yearly told we should prop it up because it’s the only way. Perhaps the real answer is to let the Republican party flop and create a new party. Or, conversely to watch the Democrat party implode and see all of the moderates (RINOs and DINOs) coalesce. The two-party system in this nation has seen such things occur before, though it’s been over 150 years. Maybe it’s time for that again. Maybe it’s time for people to vote for the individual, and not the party – and to not just pay lip service to that statement as many often do.

It will not be the end of the world or this nation if the Republican party does not regain control next month or in 2012. Fight for this country with conviction and principles, not pragmatism and compromise. Fear not. Too many people give in to pragmatism over conviction out of fear for the future. If our founders had been pragmatic, we would never have become a nation.


Samuel Wilson said...

Alexander's rhetorical opposition of purism and pragmatism is, almost by his own admission, mere euphemism for lesser evilism. The perceived imperative to prevent "Leftists" from winning power, he implicitly concedes, inherently limits how "Rightist" government can be. He may still be satisfied if he decides that the pragmatic result is conservative enough, but as long as "Leftists" continue to contest elections, "conservative enough" is bound to be only minimally conservative so long as conservatives vote in a "pragmatically" reactionary way instead of affirming their actual preference for the country's future.

d.eris said...

Indeed. That's why I juxtaposed it with the second article which rejects the political theology of lesser-evilism. And the very terms of Alexander's opposition are loaded and biased, or at least they seemed so to me. Reading such analyses, it always seems like the implicit valuation is that pragmatism is positive and purism is negative. On the basis of that opposition, more often than not, the argument is made in favor of so-called practical action and pragmatism. Maybe we should flip those valuations around. Today I came across a piece (can't find the link right now) arguing that the so-called pragmatic position espoused by the lesser evilist is actually nothing more than "pure political calculation."