In 1858, a young America found itself on the verge of disintegrating into the annals of history to join the likes of Rome. Knowing well the stakes were of the highest sort, President Abraham Lincoln, resolved as ever, prevented the eternal downfall of our country by turning to - among other things - a simple truism that was (is) paramount, timeless and universal in nature. In an historic speech, President Lincoln warned the people of the United States exactly as Jesus once warned his disciples, telling the nation, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We all know the rest of the story (or at least we all should). Now, 157 years later, we Louisiana conservatives find ourselves cast in the lead roles of our own collective story of a house divided amongst three conservative gubernatorial candidates and their respective supporters. Because our current scenario is also one with vast implications, my fear is that, at the individual level, idealism could carry the day over pragmatism. This would result in – by default - the handing over of victory to the true opposition by way of a silent minority. I find that possibility unbelievably unsettling. Therefore, I challenge anyone dwelling in this political purgatory to act out of reason rather than dogma in this critically polarized run-off.
To ensure victory for Senator David Vitter in the upcoming run-off is to ensure victory for every conservative stakeholder in Louisiana. Yet - in light of recent news - I have deep concerns that the simplicity of this observation could potentially be lost on enough primary supporters of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne and Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle to indirectly elect as our next Governor a man who actually nominated Barrack Obama for a second term...after witnessing the train wreck that was his first term! Take a moment to let that sink in...
If there is one thing that, in theory, all conservatives have in common, it is the recognition that President Obama’s agenda has sought to erode the foundation of our country and systematically destroy the American way of life. Therefore, it should be a foregone conclusion that conservatives will do whatever is within their powers to counteract any and all further proliferation of the Obama agenda up-to and including serving defeat to any candidate for high public office who had any part in giving this man the Presidency the first time (much less the second!). So why are we left with questionable uncertainty as to whether Dardenne's supporters and Angelle and his voters will now be backing David Vitter with an official public endorsement and at the polls? I believe, for many, the answer to this question is rooted in a fallacious allegiance we, as humans, tend to have towards our individual idealisms. To our dismay, however, idealism only succeeds outside of our current reality and at the expense of real-world solutions.
One need not be Dr. Ben Carson to see that some portion of Dardenne and Angelle backers are disenchanted with the outcome of the primary. That is to be expected, but such a reaction among voters in this cliché scenario certainly is not exceptional. After a competitive primary where candidates routinely tear each other down, there is always to be expected negative emotional aftermath. Rejection has occurred for some people at the “expense” of a selection which has been made by the selectors. The selection almost instinctively becomes the negative outlet for the suffering felt by the rejected (See: Dardenne officially endorses Edwards). It is at this very juncture where we as conservatives must lead from that part within us which makes us the complete opposite of liberals to begin with: reason! Perhaps Thomas Sowell better captures the sentiment in which I am here trying to impart when he wrote, “Wishful thinking is not idealism. It is self-indulgence at best and self-exaltation at worst. In either case, it is usually at the expense of others. In other words, it is the opposite of idealism.” I think we can guess as to what Sowell would say of Dardenne's recent betrayal... Still, I wonder: what portion of voters who pulled the lever for Dardenne or Angelle last month could be caught up in a similar state of self-indulgent idealism to the point they become, in the eyes of their own party, "traitors?" I pray that number will turn out to be 0% after the election returns are in...
Some may retort that my entreaty to every single one of Dardenne’s and Angelle’s supporters (and to Mr. Angelle himself) is null because I am a primary supporter of David Vitter for Governor. Even in that sense, they would be largely mistaken. I give my word that, if our current scenario were altered whereby I voted for Vitter (which I did), but either Dardenne or Angelle became the nominee, I would not only vote for whichever gentleman was the nominee, but would go to great lengths to ensure that I convinced every primary Vitter supporter I could find to vote for our party's nominee. Reason, again, dictates that success is achieved by focusing on solutions rather than “problems.”
I present one final alternative way of looking at this situation in general: most of us (including myself) can easily lose site of the actual “who” and “what” for which we are voting in the first place. It’s easy to think that we are voting for a person – a candidate – alone. Yet the reality is that we are voting for each other concurrently. When I think of all the candidates whom we've elected who is (also) “voting” for us, I think of Senator David Vitter. I could be no more pleased with the representation he has made for us in the Senate with his solid, consistent record of representation of his constituency. How rare is that? Still, I am completely confident that he will make an even better Governor. We have yet to see the best of Vitter. I have no doubt!
For anyone still left with a sigh at this point, here is the hard line in the sand, which William F. Buckley, Jr. gave me the words to draw: “Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.” Despite our individual ideal outcomes for this race, we are now – like it or not – standing on the ledge of reality. Since we know what that reality is, we then know the cost of Dardenne, Angelle and their respective supporters not rallying behind David Vitter for Governor because they hoped for a different primary outcome. That cost would indeed be prohibitive. For one, by withholding support for the sake of making a point will be self-sabotaging for all who do so (join Dardenne at your own risk). Do I have to even enumerate the myriad of ways in which this is true to my fellow conservatives? Another - and arguably far worse - reason why not lending full support to Vitter is inherently prohibitive is that such a position (or lack thereof) would be held at the expense of others whom do not deserve to be subjected to such victimization over what is, now, irrelevant (but destructive) political posturing.
I think I speak on behalf of the conservative majority – silent and/or vocal – in applauding the Public Service Commissioner and all of his and Dardenne's supporters for adjusting their sails and pointing the bow of their ships northward. Louisiana will be all the better for it! Let's not lose this big-league election because of a small (but still large enough) part of our extended conservative family spent too much time majoring in the minors. The time for grieving has passed. It's time now to look toward our future.
Spencer Drury, MBA