Disagree, don't destroy

Posted: May 17, 2006 12:05 AM

While many (by "many" I am referring to those normal, non-political junkie types) think politics is dry and boring, there is actually lots of drama involved – especially recently. I'm not even talking about bimbo eruptions, intern encounters, or escort services. No, I'm referring to the classic drama that is the family fight. In the past year alone, the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, the Dubai ports controversy, out of control spending, and now immigration have disrupted sweet harmony in the conservative Republican family.

Perhaps emboldened by the outcome of the Miers nomination, some conservatives that issued ultimatums and threats to never vote Republican again until Miers withdrew, are now going so far as to talk about impeachment in the current debate over immigration policy. Many argued both during the Miers debate and the current immigration debate, that it might be a good idea to just sit out the upcoming elections to teach the president and the squishy Republicans a lesson. 

My opinion of that strategy is in line with Jim Geraghty’s assessment:

By the way, put me down as one of those guys who cannot comprehend the argument that conservatives ought to sit out this election to "punish" the GOP so that they'll "learn a lesson" and get better/more conservative in the future.

To advocates of this position, I must respectfully ask… are you out of your flippin’ mind?
By what logic does a constituency become more influential and powerful by becoming less active, and demonstrating less capability to turn out the vote and influence elections?
Let’s say Congressman Tom Tancredo represents your views on illegal immigration. You’re angry at the GOP leadership for not espousing his positions; you’ve concluded that they don’t listen to him. Do you really think the ball will get moved in your direction by throwing the party that has Tancredo out, and replacing it with the party that doesn’t have a Tancredo figure in it at all?
Do you really think a Democratic Congress will get tough on illegal immigration?

Geraghty later did an analysis of upcoming elections and the scenario he presents shows evidence that the likely result would be more Democrat and Republican-in-name-only candidates winning, not more conservative candidates who are better on the issue of immigration.

There are many now arguing that even if we had to endure two years of Speaker Pelosi or Majority Leader Reid, it would pay off in the long run, perhaps as the first two years of the Clinton administration resulted in the 1994 Republican landslide.  Well, this is not 1994. Even two years of control of one branch of the government could do irreparable harm at a time when the outcome of the mission in Iraq and the status of judicial appointments is at such a delicate and critical point.

Evidently some found the attacks on Miers so successful that they have decided the same tactics should be used against the president anytime there is a major disagreement with him. Those following the Miers model should remember, however, that many of those attacks were made on Miers individually (her education and experience), and she is gone. Her image was forever damaged by those attacks.

What makes the current debate over immigration or spending different from the Miers case is that there is no other individual that can simply withdraw to solve the problem. The president is the one that would be damaged, and unless someone impeaches him, he isn't going anywhere for a while and he will be addressing other issues such as the war on terror, Iraq, taxes, social security reform, and judicial appointments. 

Voicing opposition to your president or party should not be discouraged. The fact that we have that freedom is one of the things that makes this country great. I was not opposed to those conservatives that split with the president over Miers vigorously fighting that battle. Most did so in a civil and fair manner. There were some, however, that used the dispute to call for the destruction of the Republican Party. I fear that some are now presently pursuing that course over the issue of illegal immigration.

Disagree, dissent, march, email, telephone the White House and the Congress, heck, even mail a brick, but it doesn’t make sense to completely destroy the man who will be leading the country for two more years, or to destroy the Republican Party unless you are ready to accept the agenda of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid.