A good Republican is hard to find
I feel compelled to address both Sullivan’s response to my post on Scott Brown from yesterday and to my friend Jack’s excellent comment as well* both of which have caused me to think deeper on the Massachusetts election this coming Tuesday.
First of all, let me explain where I was coming from, and where I am still – to some degree – coming from today.
Three things motivated much of my writing yesterday:
First, I am upset with the direction health reform has gone in the past few days. I think the union deal was shameless and wrong-headed and a sell-out of ordinary working class people. Further entrenchment of out-dated unions is bad for America and for the economy, and it does nothing to improve healthcare for most Americans whatsoever, let alone rein in systemic costs. This has had me feeling not only dubious about my own support of the bill, but somewhat angry about the whole thing. I’ve defended the various compromises made thus far, but this one seemed to go beyond the acceptable level of decency.
Second, a good Republican is hard to find, to paraphrase a favorite author of mine. When somebody comes along that seems quite a lot more honest and less prone to all the silly tantrums and talk-radio ass-kissing than many of the high profile conservatives out there these days, I feel a little jubilant. Scott Brown – whatever his flaws – still strikes me as this sort of candidate. He’s no Jeff Flake, of course, but he’s still a far cry better than many of his colleagues on the right.
And third, Martha Coakley scares me. The entitlement and arrogance she displays is mildly appalling. It goes beyond amusement – I find her, as Jack said in the comments, a little more than creepy. She’s awful, and she doesn’t deserve to win. The Democrats certainly don’t deserve to win after picking such a terrible candidate. Couple this with my feelings of resentment toward the way health reform has been going, and my reception of Scott Brown, and you begin to see why I found Andrew’s dismissal of him so unfair. That being said, calling Sullivan “reflexively anti-Republican” was also unfair. It was a reactionary sort of thing to say on my part – reflexive one might say. I admire Andrew’s honesty even when we disagree, and dismissing anyone as “reflexively anti-……” does them a disservice.
One other important point. If moderates like Brown are defeated at the polls now it only lends ammuniation to the “purists” in the GOP to continue their witch-hunts, further ostracizing independents and so-called RINO’s and casting them from the ranks of the pure-blooded. A Brown victory, on the contrary, could conceivably change the course of the Republican party. Maybe not. If Andrew’s analysis of Brown is correct, than perhaps I’m simply placing too much hope in the wrong man.
I suppose in the end it comes down to values more than anything else. Thirty million people stand to gain affordable health coverage if this legislation passes. I wish we could achieve that some other way. I wish there were the political will to actually erect a more free-market system that still achieved universal coverage – without all the handouts to special interests. But I don’t think that will exists or that the system even exists, and while a part of me cries out that we must stick to our ideological parapets and resist the growth of big government at all costs, another part knows that without healthcare reform millions more Americans will simply have to go without coverage – will face denial after denial from private insurers and the specter of bankruptcy. The problems with our system as a whole will go on unabated.
I can’t have it both ways, of course. I want Brown to win and I want health reform to pass, but the two may as well be mutually exclusive. If politics is anything it is the process of discerning the least of two countless evils. If this were any other issue I would not feel so dismayed at the choice. But it isn’t – and if Coakley loses, health reform might lose as well. At least I don’t have to go to the polls myself and make that decision.
P.S. – If I was not clear enough – I think if I were to walk down to the ballot box I’d vote for…sigh…Coakley. For health reform, really, not for Coakley. But she’s the road I’d have to travel to get there.
(*I call Jack’s comment ‘excellent’ despite the fact that he called me naive. More than likely that is a fair assessment.)