George Will calls California’s recall and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger “a conservative travesty.” In prior blogs, I have agreed with much of Will’s critique. However, this column is a bit over-the-top in its attack on the conservatives (“faux conservatives” he calls them) who helped bring about the demise of Davis and the rise of Arnold.
Let’s focus on the decision to back Schwarzegger, who is viewed by Will (perhaps correctly) as embodying “Hollywood’s culture leavened by a few paragraphs of Miltion Friedman.” During elections, conservatives generally should act in the manner that maximizes the degree to which government will act conservatively. Usually that means supporting strong conservatives. However, sometimes supporting moderate candidates who are likely to defeat liberal opponents, instead of conservative candidates who are not, may be the best way to maximize conservative governance. Other factors may also properly enter the equation. Some conservatives will have issues about which they feel so strongly (e.g., abortion or Israel) that they cannot support the moderate candidate regardless of what a purely pragmatic approach would dictate. Issues of competence and integrity are also legitimately considered. And, since no equation can actually weigh all of these considerations, intuition may really be the true guide.
If I had been voting yesterday, my calculation (or intuition) would have led me to vote for McClintock. However, Will is wrong, it seems to me, to call conservatives who reached a different decision “faux conservatives.” He concedes that California has removed an “obviously incompetent” liberal governor. Will may be correct that the benefits to California and to President Bush of having Arnold in power, as compared to Davis, do not outweigh the unseemliness of the recall and some of its likely, though unintended, consequences. But surely this an issue about which reasonable conservatives can disagree.
HINDROCKET adds: Well put, Deacon. I would have voted for Arnold, and if I’m a “faux conservative,” then the universe of “real” conservatives is a very small one. I think you are absolutely right about the role that intuition plays in voting. I supported Arnold because I respect his immense competence and even more formidable determination, because I think he has natural leadership qualities that can’t be taught, and because my intuition tells me that, while not as conservative as I am, Arnold will wind up more conservative across a pretty broad range of issues than most people think. Other conservatives are free to draw differrent conclusions, but for them to beat up on the recall and on Arnold seems pointless at best.
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