Friday, May 4, 2012

Principle and Pragmatism

Interesting Gil Troy op-ed piece on ideology and compromise in Republican presidential politics.  Troy argues that "culture warrior" politics is a drag on GOP electability.  This connects to some of the comments I made in my April 27 post.  Of course, I'd argue this could apply to both parties.  It was George McGovern's willingness to become a different sort of "culture warrior" that helped spell his doom in 1972.  Michael Dukakis' refusal to bow to pragmatism in episodes such as the infamous question posed to him about how he'd feel toward someone who assaulted his wife didn't exactly help his prospects in 1988.

Is it right and proper for politicians to avoid strident stands in favor of electability?  At this point we enter the realm of moral quandry.  Is the prize of electoral office and the opportunity (however circumscribed) to effect change once elected worth negotiating one's way through the door?  Or does principle outweigh pragmatism?  Will principle triumph over pragmatism under the right circumstances?  Tricky questions all.

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