Tea Party Reaction to Romney-Ryan as Fractured as Movement
Far too many activists see the world only from their point of view, a comfortable bubble where the rightness of their arguments is self-evident and anyone who disagrees with them is the enemy. This fosters a kind of political rut where progressing a movement becomes extremely difficult. You can’t convince the uninitiated with claims of self-evidence, and you won’t bother to try if you write off everyone outside your clique as either hostile or ignorant.
With his ability to empathize with the GOP establishment, Nalle grasps the Ryan pick as most useful to his cause. Understanding that Romney has made a bold move from an establishment perspective enables an activist like Nalle to appreciate the opportunity that the pick presents.
After comparing the Ryan pick to a lame gift from a well-intentioned grandmother, Nalle concludes:
Ultimately, if we object to Ryan, if we raise the roof with outrage, [the GOP establishment is] sufficiently out of touch that they won’t understand and will just get confused and offended. If we accept their lame gift with a winning smile that makes them think they did the right thing, that makes them feel good about us and next time the gifts may be more generous and they’ll write us into the will and we will eventually inherit it all.
In less crude terms, rallying behind the imperfect Romney-Ryan ticket represents an investment of political capital with the potential to pay dividends for libertarians within the Republican Party. Embraced as allies, liberty activists will continue to gain positions of influence and leadership which may eventually translate to purer liberty candidates. That’s politics in a free society; you have to build relationships and coalitions with people you do not agree with 100%.
The chief impediment to such coalition-building is dogmatic ideological segregation. Many activists care more about advancing their system of philosophy (and vetting out the impure among their ranks through inquisitions) than about affecting change in the real world.
Consider the reaction in the Objectivist community to the enthusiastic endorsement of Romney-Ryan by the editor of The Objective Standard, Craig Biddle. Writing on the publication’s blog, Biddle explained how he could comfortably campaign for the GOP ticket despite the fact that neither Romney nor Ryan is an Objectivist:
For a politician to appreciate [Ayn] Rand’s ideas (even if he doesn’t fully understand them) and to extol them publicly is a welcome development. For the same politician to see entitlement programs as the main political problem throttling the U.S. economy—and to be willing and able to articulate why—is also welcome. For this same man to be selected as the vice presidential candidate on a viable ticket for the White House—when the alternative is an incumbent dedicated to destroying America—is as good a development as anyone could reasonably have hoped for today.
The focus here is context. “As good a development as anyone could reasonably have hoped for today” is a contextual standard which matters in the real world. Pining for an option which does not exist serves no rational purpose. As Rand and her philosophical forebear Aristotle made clear, we must deal with what is.