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Things to remember for the primary

Posted: August 23, 2010 at 1:44 pm   /   by

1. We're on the same side.

Yes, everyone (or nearly everyone) has by now picked their favorites in most of the races in question. And yes, everyone has their reasons for making those choices. Nonetheless, it is vital to remember that, as conservatives and Republicans, we want the same things:

  • Smaller, more accountable, more transparent government.
  • Fiscal sanity.
  • A diminution of the power of the state and an enlargement of individual sovereignty and liberty.
  • A culture where personal responsibility trumps a sense of personal entitlement.
  • Protection of those institutions that make up the civil society: family, community, and all the voluntary associations of free people that make that civil society function.
  • A government that respects its obligations under the social contract—that it MUST govern with the consent of the governed, and that if it does not, there are ramifications.
  • An end to this mad dash over the cliff to fiscal destruction, just to prop up an unsupportable welfare state.
  • Etc.

You get the point. We all agree on fundamental ideas, and we agree on how essential it is that those ideas are victorious, now more than ever. Unless a candidates who is not your first choice is somehow on the wrong side of these core issues, then remember that he or she is your ally, and will need your support on Wednesday.

2. Consider electability

Now let's talk about some people who are on the wrong side of these core issues: Democrats.

Today's crop of Democrats are not like those of yore. Once upon a time, we had at least a few Zell Millers and Scoop Jacksons and even Tip O'Neills. However, over the last several decades, the hard, internationalist left has slowly gained ascendancy over the Democratic Party, and now, with Obama's election, they are in charge. And not only do they, as an aggregate ideology, run afoul of these core issues, they are, in fact, openly and fundamentally contemptuous of them.

Moreover, don't be fooled by this incessant and profoundly misleading use of the term "Blue Dogs." This is nothing but a marketing ploy, meant to prop up Democrats in conservative districts. Most of them have voted for, and participated in the process of foisting upon us all, some of the most egregious and liberty-crushing legislation in U.S. history. Citizens Against Government Waste has calculated that the Democrats as a caucus get the terrible score of 4%, and the so-called Blue Dogs have a score of 11%. That distinction hardly merits being called by any sort of a different name. Indeed, is there much more than a shade of difference between a Blue Dog and a Yellow Dog? Either one does Pelosi's bidding on command.

Which brings us to the point here, which is that we should strongly consider electability when voting in the GOP primary. Who has the best chance of defeating the Democrat and winning the seat?

This does not mean setting aside all matters of ideology, but it does mean that we need to take a hard look at electability as one of the factors we consider. If Candidate A agrees with me 100% of the time, but has no chance of winning the general election, and Candidate B agrees with me 90% of the time and has an excellent shot at winning the general, I am going for Candidate B every time. This calculus is not always completely clear-cut, but it must be considered.

Remember also that an election does not always involve just that race. Sometimes, especially with legislative races, it involves a great deal more. Taking just the U.S. Congress, for example, the difference between the GOP being in the majority or minority is huge!

  • In the majority, we get to hold the chairmanships of committees
  • In the majority in the Senate, Joe Biden is NOT the tie-breaking vote
  • In the majority in the House, Nancy Pelosi is NO LONGER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE!

Please excuse the screaming on that last one, but it's so important. America is now being governed by San Francisco. That ain't right.

So, if you are thinking that you are casting a "principled vote" in a particular race, and that you are willing to sacrifice that seat to a Democrat to take that principled stand, just remember that that decision may have an impact far beyond just that one seat.

3. Put it all aside on Wednesday

In the past, I haven't waited very long before calling for uniting behind primary winners. In fact, it has usually been on Wednesday morning after an election. Time and time again, people have gotten angry with me for this. The calmer among them will tell me,

"Chris, not everyone is as much of a robot as you. They have strong feelings during the primary, and they need a little bit of a 'mourning period' after the primary before they get behind the general election candidate."


But how much of a mourning period is required? One day? Three? A week?

Personally, I'd rather be mourning the loss of a primary candidate than mourning the loss of

  • the general election for that seat
  • the majority in a particular legislative body
  • adherence to the Founding Principles of this great nation, which for the first time in my life do appear at risk

We all have reasons to support candidates in the primary. And it is right that we should do so enthusiastically, with gusto and an eye on victory for that candidate.That is our charge until Wednesday morning!

But after that, my call to you, fellow conservatives, is to get a bit more robotic. Set aside emotions. Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Recognize that we won't get everything we want in a single election cycle. Put your noses to the grindstones, see the big picture, and do not stop until liberty's victory.

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook

Managing Editor at Western Free Press
Christopher Cook is a writer, editor, and political commentator. He is the president of Castleraine, Inc., a consulting firm providing a diverse array of services to corporate, public policy, and not-for-profit clients.

Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including (now a part of Western Free Press) and He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to
Christopher Cook

Things to remember for the primary