Attention Conservatives: Nice Guys Do Finish Last
A response to Adam Graham's argument that conservatives shouldn't play dirty.
May 8, 2009 - 12:25 am
“There is a time to submit to being slapped and there is a time to hit back twice so you will not be slapped again.” — Chin Ning-Chu
“There is such a gap between how one lives and how one ought to live that anyone who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation: for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.” — Niccolo Machiavelli
Earlier this week, I wrote a piece for PJ Media called “The Right Needs to Play as Dirty as the Left.” The theme of that piece could be summed up in these two paragraphs:
Too often today, liberals are using below-the-belt tactics against conservatives and paying no price whatsoever. Meanwhile, those on the right like to pat themselves on the back for being above it all. This is like a boxer priding himself on never taking off his gloves while his opponent nearly beats him to death with his bare firsts. But in the end, there’s not much to be said for lovable losers. Conservatives should realize that fair play isn’t going to pay any dividends.
While we conservatives don’t have to stoop quite as low as the left has, we do need to start giving them a taste of their own medicine, if only to make them think twice about the way they’re treating our side.
Adam Graham wrote a piece in response entitled “No, The Right Doesn’t Need to Play as Dirty as the Left.” Since Mr. Graham’s piece did a great job of summing up the opinions of the people who believe the GOP shouldn’t sully its hands in the fight against the Left, I thought it was a good idea to respond. After all, this is a debate that we should have had in our party long ago. However, first it’s worth clarifying a couple of points:
When I speak of playing as dirty as the Left, I’m not talking about mere rhetoric. Although we haven’t gone quite as far off the rails as liberals, who habitually refer to everyone who disagrees with them on any issue as Nazis, theocrats, homophobes, and bigots, we do hit them hard. Unfortunately, our Republican representatives in D.C. haven’t quite ramped up to the necessary level of intensity when dealing with a power-drunk narcissist who seems to be alternately borrowing from the playbooks of FDR, Noam Chomsky, Saul Alinsky, and even Hugo Chavez. Being politicians, though, you can expect them to escalate their attacks once President Obama’s approval rating falls a little further.
Additionally, I don’t believe in “anything goes.” Conservatives do tend to be fundamentally moral in a way that liberals who drink deeply from the cup of politics are not. For example, the Right shouldn’t engage in the sort of grotesque abuse that is often leveled by liberals at female conservative bloggers. Nor do I think we should back the sort of wholesale voter fraud that ACORN is attempting to perpetrate. There are some lines that should not be crossed. That much we can agree on. But let’s get into some areas where Mr. Graham and I part company. First off, Mr. Graham states:
Conservatives are not liberals: … Culturally, conservatives are unable to play the same game as liberals, because we do not possess the same mentality. I would argue that conservatives have a greater sense of respect for authority, rules of civility, and fundamental order within society. This is so ingrained that in Boise, when social conservatives felt the need to practice civil disobedience over the removal of a Ten Commandments monument, it was arranged in advance with the police that only a small number of people would be arrested and they would go quietly. There was a strong feeling among Ten Commandments supporters that they didn’t want to give the police officers a hard time, because the police were only doing their job and enforcing the actions of a boneheaded city council.
It’s fascinating that Mr. Graham picks that example, not only because it was a failure, but also because of the obvious contrast that has so often been drawn between Christian and Muslim protests. Christians are mocked and laughed at with impunity in this country because most Christians don’t have the backbone to stand up for their faith. Maybe the truth hurts, but I suspect there are few Christians reading this who’d disagree. On the other hand, Muslims are treated with the utmost respect here in the U.S. and across the world. Part of that’s because there is a fear that if you insult Muslims, one of them might kill you. However, even if that weren’t the case, Muslims would be treated with much more respect because they take grave offense when someone insults their religion. If Christians felt the same way, 90% of black Americans would be voting for Republicans instead of Democrats, Barack Obama wouldn’t be invited to speak at Notre Dame, and that Ten Commandments monument would be sitting in that Boise park today.
I’d also add that sometimes, regrettably, the only way to preserve “respect for authority, rules of civility, and fundamental order within society” is to give the people who are ruining those things a taste of their own medicine.