I am a Conservative Christian, and with the presidential election of 2008 on the horizon, the same question continues to perplex me: Where does one draw the line between heart and head in deciding who to vote for? I consider myself a thoughtful, pragmatic young man, but it would be insincere for me to pretend that my faith is not the epicenter of my decision-making.
So what’s a God-fearing Conservative to do in ’08?
If, say, Rudy Giuliani, who happens to be slightly more liberal on social issues, gets the nod at the Republican National Convention next summer, do we (those terrifying members of the “Religious Right”) really sit this one out in the hopes that a strong message is sent to the Republican National Committee? Do we effectively support Hillary by refusing to support Rudy because he’s a moderate or Mitt because he’s Mormon?
My head tells me that the very notion of this is revolting. Hillary Clinton, for all intensive purposes, is the candidate-de-jour on the Left. She also is, for all intensive purposes, a Secular-Progressive Communist. (But more on that later.) She’s got the money, the name, and the support of most key players in election politics.
What is more, the media already speaks of “Hillary as president” in the past tense. If you thought the thousands of documented cases of Post Election Traumatic Stress Syndrome were bad in 2000 and 2004, wait till you see the billable hours that liberals’ psychiatrists from Malibu to Maryland will be adding to Accounts Receivable come a Hillary loss in 2008. Dr. Phil and Hillary will have to start a new cable network called “L” (think about it).
In Hillary, we will be up against the formidable shock-and-awe, slash-and-burn political tactics of the Clintonistas. Add to that the clout of the mainstream media, the overwhelming majority of American newspaper editorial pages, and the annoyingly consistent drumbeat of support from professors and teachers in American public schools and universities. Factor in also an electorate already showing signs of Republican-fatigue (e.g. the 2006 mid-term elections), and you’ve got a volatile environment within which a GOP candidate is suppose to emerge victorious come next November.
To be fair, my head also tells me that there is plenty to be pleased with in this election cycle as far as my Party is concerned. For starters, the homogeneity found among the Liberal Democratic candidates is not the case on the Right. Primaries are for discussion and debate to find out which direction that Party as a whole will be heading. The Libertarian voice of a Ron Paul (R-TX) is countered by that of the Moral Values-driven Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who in turn is countered by the Pro-Nationalist Tom Tancredo (R-CO). Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has very different views on coerced interrogation than Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), and they are very real, long-standing distinctions in opinion.
On the flip side of the political continuum, Senators Hillary Clinton and John Edwards wait till that week’s latest polls are out to tell you if they are for or against bringing American troops home from Iraq. The only thing Obama has going for him is that he wasn’t around when the infamous 2003 vote to authorize military force in Iraq took place. I’ve watched every Democratic and GOP debate thus far, and it is striking just how similar the responses from the Left sound compared to those on the Right. Notice I said “striking” and not “surprising”.
As far as Madame Hillary is concerned, I defy anyone to pinpoint a plan in Hillary’s platform that she’s held for more than two years without drastically changing her public stance on it. (Other than wanting to: become President at any cost, raise your taxes, and create an entitlement-crazy society that becomes addicted to the narcotic-like affect of “free” stuff that only a liberal can, or will, provide.)
My head also tells me that falling on your sword to show just how self-righteous you are is self-defeating and usually unnecessary. The world is anything but perfect, and such is the case with any and every candidate for President. I hate the term “lesser of two evils” but in the admittedly melodramatic examples of WWII and the Cold War, America, in order to win the broader struggle at hand, was forced to work with people and countries that we either despised at the time, or ended up fighting later.
Can’t the same case for defeating the socially and economically destructive forces of liberalism (and eventually socialism) be made as a rallying cry for voters to band together to keep Hillary out of the White House?
This, however, is usually the point where my heart begins to tell my head that he’s come as far as he can go. My heart asks, “But if we compromise the values that define us (i.e. pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage), what are we left with?” Is it more important to have a president that I know completely agrees with my views than say one who I know completely disagrees with them? Do my personal principles trump those of the “greater good”?
These are interesting questions to theorize about and reflect on, but where does that leave the average “values voter” on the Right come November of next year? What do we do when potential candidates appear as anything but our “first choice” for president?
The first thing we all must do is individually decide what truly matters to us. More than that, we should rank and classify those principles we decide upon into categories of Core and Peripheral beliefs. For example: one of my Core beliefs is in the sanctity and preciousness of life. A peripheral belief for me is the tariff policy we may adopt in relations with Finland. One is negotiable, and the other is not.
I believe, as the Founding Fathers did, that God, not Mankind, bestows value and worth onto and into each life. No amount of discussing the “right” of one human to selfishly end that of an another innocent one will ever change my mind. Pro-life is the only, and I mean only, stance a religiously-serious person can have in my view of things. It is not the only issue that matters, but it matters.
Personally, Mayor Giuliani says he hates abortion and has counseled young couples and mothers to protect the life of their unborn baby by keeping it or giving it up for adoption. Conversely, as a matter of public policy, he says that Roe v. Wade, although a horrendously un-Constitutional decision by the Supreme Court, is currently the Federal government’s stance on the issue and he therefore supports that. It’s not as complicated a stance as the media tries to make it out (in an attempt to drive the Conservative base further apart en route to a Hillary rout), but it is not what the base of the Republican Party wants to here. Not in the least.
Sadly, Rudy also is for Liberal-strict gun control (something not even activist judges or law professors can justify thanks to the 2nd Amendment). He has a proclivity for dressing in drag, and is much more open to the idea of same-sex marriage being universally legalized. Without judging the personal life of a man I know about as well as Hillary knows the truth, it is worth noting that he has been married three times and has been involved in not-so-private affairs with married women.
I’m not trying here to tear Mayor Giuliani down or say that I could never vote for him. But, the constant battle between heart and head that rages inside me demands I more honestly and closely examine him, as well as the other candidates, in the upcoming months of primary and election season. I use him as an example for the simple fact that his views most noticeably differ from my own on issues that are morally important to me.
A candidate who shows charisma, leadership, courage under fire, and the ability to potentially defeat Conservatives’ biggest fear (i.e. four more years of Slick Willy in the White House) must be taken seriously and given solemn consideration. But what do I do if that same candidate supports a social institution that has murdered upwards of 50 million babies since 1972? To make it even more complicated and nuanced, what if he personally abhors the practice but publicly signs off on it? What does that say, if anything, about him that he’s unable or unwilling to make a clear distinction in both arenas?
My point here is this: you should take the time to learn what these candidates really have said, have voted for, and are promising to do if elected. It’s not enough to read bumper stickers and watch an occasional Daily Show to think you’ve got a handle on things. Not even poignant, thoughtful, engaging blogs written by ruggedly-handsome Grad students alone will afford you the comprehensive take on individual candidates that you may be interested in.
Read. Listen. Watch. Read some more. Think through what it is you really stand for and believe in. Find out what makes you tick before you set out to find out what makes them tick. Your head can, and should, influence what is in your heart; but that presumes there is actually something in your head. Don’t sit back and wait for Halloween 2008 to start surfing through Colbert’s MySpace page to decide whom you will vote for.
For another thoughtful take on this "heart v. head" decision: http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20071010/EDITORIAL01/110100005/1013/EDITORIAL