Compromising Principle for Expediency
By John D. Turner
6 Oct 2003

I just finished listening to a spokesperson for the group Women For Arnold, a supposedly Republican group dedicated to mobilizing women to support Arnold Schwartzenegger for Governor of California.

I suppose it should have come as no shock. We are talking about California here, and Arnold has publicly stated he is pro-Choice. Still, hearing the rhetoric coming from the mouth of this individual was enough to make me want to shower afterward. And it was a timely reminder that when all is said and done, the Republican Party is no more a party of principle than the Democrats. Political expediency is the name of the game. What must I do to get elected; what must the Party do to get its candidate through the door.

I must admit I am like a lot of people. At first blush, it seemed so cool to have “The Terminator” for Governor of California. Kind of like having Jesse Ventura as Governor of Minnesota. However, one must remember that “The Terminator” is a fictional character. And what does it say about us, really, that we think it would be “cool” to have an amoral, death-dealing machine as Governor of the most populous state in the Union?

Perhaps there are certain similarities at that. Arnold is pro-choice after all, among other things, meaning he does resemble an amoral, death-dealing machine in some regards, although he would not see it this way, of course. In his mind it’s a woman’s choice. I too, believe it to be a woman’s choice, but a choice that needs to be made further up the event chain. Once baby is on board, the only "choice" is whether to keep the baby or give it up for adoption. This is supposed to be a bedrock issue with Republicans, who just finished voting to outlaw partial-birth abortion at the National level. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation when it gets to his desk. President Bush also supports Arnold’s candidacy!

Arnold is pro-gun control, and pro-gay rights, to include gay marriage. He supports public benefits for sexual partners outside of marriage, so-called “significant others”. He supports cloning of human beings for medical research. He is very liberal on social issues. And while it would be nice to be able to say conversely that “at least he is a fiscal conservative”, there is no evidence he has much of a grasp of the economic issues either.

I hear the arguments. “Well, it is a liberal state. We just have to swallow the good with the bad. Yes, Arnold is liberal, but what do you expect in California? We can’t elect a real conservative there. At least we will get a Governor with a big R after his name.”

Has everyone forgotten Ronald Reagan? He was Governor of California. Can’t remember anyone claiming he was a liberal. Certainly not the Liberals!

If we support a candidate who looks like a Democrat, acts like a Democrat, and tastes like a Democrat, why heck! We may as well elect a Democrat! Why go for the ersatz when you can have the real thing! Just keep Gray Davis around!

I guess what brought this home to me, albeit at such a late date, was listening to the smarmy spokesperson for the “Women for Arnold” crowd. I could have been listening to a Democrat spokesperson for Clinton! You know, I and others have bemoaned the fact on numerous occasions during the Clinton era that the Republicans just didn’t seem to know how to spin things. The Dems were great at it! They could make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear and have enough left over to make a parachute with. The Republicans were hopeless when it came to such things.

Be careful what you wish for…you may get it. What is spin after all? It is the twisting of the truth, if not outright lying about an event. It’s making you think that bad is good; redirecting the argument.

I just heard this individual claim that the Arnold groping episodes (read bimbo eruptions) were nothing to be concerned about. First off, they were mostly in the past, and Arnold had apologized for them after all. Second, their timing was suspicious, coming as it were just four days before the election. So partisan! So, well, Clintonesque, for lack of a better term. Substitute the names and it could have been right out of the Monica Lewenski era.

Then she went on to positively gush over Arnold’s pro-Choice, pro-Gay stance. About how this was so good for women, and how progressive Arnold is on these issues. And then the kicker; being pro-Choice is really so Republican! It is, at its core she claimed, a Republican value, hearkening back to real Republican roots of less intrusive Government. She invoked Roosevelt, without saying which one she was talking about. Either one is a bit of a problem here, since FDR was a Democrat, and I’m not sure Teddy was into baby killing. Be that as it may, she went on to describe those who are not pro-Choice, not as pro-Life, the usual Republican term, but as anti-Choice, a term usually used by Democrats.

At what point do we toss our values simply to get the "Big R"? Remember, the national Republican Party is supporting this guy. Tom McClintock, the Republican with values most of us would recognize as what we believe are bedrock party stances is not only being ignored, but being pressured to drop out of the race. “We need California”, they say. “If we have a "Big R" in California, that will help Bush win the Presidency next year”, is the mantra of conventional wisdom.

Is that all its about? Securing the Presidency for W next year? What guarantee do we have that it will work? Suppose Arnold botches things as badly as Davis? Will that make Californian’s want to vote Republican in November 04? There is a good chance Arnold can’t turn things around that quickly, if he can turn them around at all. What is his plan for California? Cutting expenses sounds good, but that really translates into getting rid of state employees, among other things. Do you suppose they will look at losing their jobs as being for the ultimate good of California, and vote Republican on that basis?

Listening to that spokesperson made me realize how quickly it can all change. The values I hold dear are not carved into stone in the Republican Party. Party planks can be conveniently ignored when necessary, for political expediency. Just like with the Democrats, principles are less important than winning.

Wake up people! All is not well in Zion! The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. If this works in California, don’t be surprised to see it happen again in other Liberal states, such as New York and Massachusetts. Values compromised will become values removed. As we elect such people to high offices, do not expect that Republican core values (if there are such things) will remain unchanged. They can't. The Party will move to accommodate those that are elected, to keep them in office. And we will become just like the Democrats.

Or maybe the Democrats will change in response, and become more Conservative. Or maybe pigs will fly. The worst part of all this is that if Arnold wins, we will have to apologize to President Clinton for excoriating him on the topic of morals, when it will become apparent that the Republicans are as devoid of them as he was. Character evidently doesn't matter.

Washington warned us against political parties. We should have listened.

For a much better treatment of this issue than I can give, please see this article by Alan Keyes, who, as usual, sums things up brilliantly.