Purist v. Pragmatist – A Choice
Politics is the art of influence, wise compromise, and understanding how to use these two to accomplish one’s end. When we consider the leaders we have esteemed over the centuries, the traits which propelled them always involved the tension between influencing the opposition and wise compromise.
Agree with them or not, our last four presidents used these traits in various fashions.
President Barack Obama has accomplished a great deal in his almost two years in office. Unfortunately, much of his accomplishments were achieved via a heavy hand and not wise compromise.
President George W. Bush also accomplished a great deal during his two terms. Like President Obama, President Bush had a sound majority in his first term – a period in which he did not veto a single piece of legislation. The attack on our nation, dubbed “9/11,” brought our country together as we have not seen in many years – no compromise was necessary to bring political and public sentiment together. But, much of the goodwill was depleted when he left office and the introduction of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was an albatross forever hanging from his neck.
President William J. Clinton also accomplished a great deal during his two terms, but unlike his successors, his influence is still surprisingly robust. He was a masterful politician and understood public sentiment and political expediency. He could shift quickly with new issues and always seemed to come out as though it was his leadership which brought forth results.
President Ronald Reagan, like the others, also accomplished a great deal during his two terms. He, unlike his successors, was able to bring the public into his realm of ideology and perspectives. His label as “The Great Communicator” was rightfully earned; President Reagan knew his core beliefs and was able to articulate his vision so well that the wise compromises he did make were still very beneficial to his overall image of our American future.
It is important to remember these characteristics as our upcoming elections will revolve around those who have shown such capability. For instance, in the Maryland race for governor, two candidates – current Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Robert Ehrlich – have records which display the use of these traits. Those who generally read TheTentacle.com have no need for a history lesson or comparison between the two candidates – we have seen their actions and abilities to influence the opposition and develop wise compromise.
The interest here is a newcomer to the scene – candidate Brian Murphy. Mr. Murphy has been endorsed by both former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and our current Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. With his lieutenant governor selection of Michael Ryman, this team has shown real potential to turn the direction of Maryland around through influence and wise compromise.
For many, the promotion of the Murphy Team to lead our state has posed a significant problem. In short, many see this contested primary as an opportunity for the opposition to split the Republican Party and continue to control not only the legislature, but the governorship of Maryland.
For the life of me, I cannot understand the criticism of a contested primary; this is not only a political function of all races, but it is the one mechanism political parties have to differentiate their candidates. How often have we heard of RINOs (Republican In Name Only) running for office. Yet, many of these people would rather be in lock-step than allow for a robust discussion of ideology and how a candidate proposes to move our state forward. The opposition has a history of staying in lock-step, yet the Republicans have a history of robust argumentation finally coming together through wise compromise.
Knowing your core beliefs and articulating why they are the principles to guide your decisions carries far more weight in any discussion. Respect comes from dealing with people of honesty, integrity, and those who know why they believe in their ideology; this also allows for wise compromise when necessary or a strong handed approach when required.
When a moderate Republican garners leadership, you will invariably find they lead us down a path towards a more liberal bent. Remember when President George W. Bush left office, he opened the door to the “bail out” mentality. Our moderate Republican leaders have, over time, allowed the Republican Party to shift to the left. Consider that when you hear the speeches of President John F. Kennedy, he promoted an economic ideology that many of our leaders today would find foreign.
A second argument made against supporting the Murphy Team is the concept of the purist versus the pragmatist. This is probably the most interesting of the apologetics and a masterful use of the language. It implies that holding so strongly to one’s beliefs, they will lose the overall objective of winning support and changing the current system.
But, how can one truly change an overall system without having the underlying vision and core values to engender such a change? Consider the difference between President Ronald Reagan and William J. Clinton; Mr. Reagan made numerous wise compromises, but invariably they were still beneficial to his overall vision. On the flip side, Mr. Clinton often made very pragmatic compromises as he did not have well-defined core values and needed to garner support due to various foibles.
Pragmatism only works when those engaged have already established their well defined core values and are in a position of strength to allow for wise compromise. Otherwise, it creates what we have seen occurring for years, a gradual movement to the left of our principles and leaders. Voting for someone simply because they have an “R” by their name will not achieve a valuable result; they must have well understood, well articulated, and well thought through values.
Sheriff Chuck Jenkins could not have accomplished the herculean task of implementing the 287(g) program within our county if he did not have well established core principles. His endorsement and support of the Murphy Team does not come lightly; he has seen what happens when we allow this continual shifting to the left. Had our Founders embraced pragmatism, we would be a Parliamentary system with our allegiance to the Crown.
This election offers us an opportunity to embrace this strong kind of leadership and bring our Republican Party back from its pragmatic sliding toward the left.