Political morality vs. treachery
One of the new Bloggers 4 Sayre, Leslie Carbone, compared the 24th district senate race to the situation in Pennsylvania last year, when Senator Rick Santorum lost his bid for reelection in part because many conservatives stayed home to express anger for his support of his colleague in the Senate, Arlen Specter. Carbone is worried because "some Republicans--including former Senator George Allen--are thinking of endorsing liberal [emphasis added to express my incredulity] incumbent Emmett Hanger..." She believes that it is both morally and political wrong for Republican officeholders to endorse members of their party who are not rock-solid, true-blue conservatives. She cited her Nov. 11, 2006 post: "Pennsylvania conservatives proved that Sen. Santorum was too treacherous to win re-election." "Treacherous"? Is that what being loyal to an incumbent of one's own party is? I would venture to say that Santorum's defeat last year proved (among other things) that the Pennsylvania conservatives who didn't bother to vote for him were too spiteful and short-sighted to see the consequences of giving away the election -- and thus, the U.S. Senate -- to the Democrats. I am fairly confident that conservatives in Virginia are wiser than that.
What Ms. Carbone fails to realize is that the strident rhetoric and exclusionary attitude of many hard-line conservatives have been undermining the Republican Party, corroding the bonds of trust that are essential for any political organization to succeed. This trend has been building almost since the outset of President Bush's second term; see my Mar. 30, 2005 post. (That was back when I identified myself as a strong conservative, before Bush blew his window of opportunity for reform.) Ms. Carbone stands in opposition to the current Republican Party of Virginia leadership -- RPV Chairman Ed Gillespie and Vice-chairman Charles Judd -- who want the party to appeal to a broader range of the electorate.
More generally, pontificating about what is or isn't "moral" in the political sphere is usually problematic. Politics always has and always will involve pragmatic bargaining among leaders and factions who share common interests, and compromising over principles will be necessary from time to time in order to get anything done. Ideological purity or majority status: take your pick.
Speaking of "strident rhetoric," Jim McCloskey's cartoon in today's News Leader really hit the nail on the head: "The Sayre campaign staying on message." I'm glad to see that the News Leader's editorial staff has been paying attention to the recent SWAC-area blogospheric cacaphony.
Sayre rejects gas tax
I got a campaign flyer in the mail today from Scott Sayre, and he says: "Gas prices are high enough. There is no reason to raise the gas tax." Who is he to say how high gasoline prices should be? Has he ever heard of free markets? (After all, he's a businessman.) And where is the money going to come from to pay for improvements to I-81 which he favors, anyway? Just how is he going to "fund it and fix it"? There are two fundamental alternative approaches to the energy problem and the related transportation problem: Either fashion public policies based on the acknowledgement that fuel and roads are scarce and becoming scarcer all the time, or else pander to folks who just want to put their heads in the sand and "let the good times roll."