Bill Buckley, asked in 1968 who he would vote for, replied “The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win. If you could convince me that Barry Goldwater could win, I’d vote for him.”
Typical for our world today, this has been sound-bited into the “Buckley Rule”, most recently stated by Charles Krauthammer, writing in Jewish World Review, as “Support the most conservative candidate who is electable.” Mr. Krauthammer then dissects the primary win of O’Donnell in his article, The Buckley Rule. It’s worth reading (Krauthammer is eminently readable, go ahead) and as is his wont, he makes his case methodically and logically.
But, what is electable is not always known. Why? Because the American Voter is fickle and given to flights of fancy. Is there a more easily led group of people on the planet today? Do you own a pair of $100 + tennis shoes? Yeah.
However, the Buckley Rule, as originally stated above, is somewhat meaningless without context. One assumes the context is conservative candidates in opposition to a liberal or progressive candidate. But, is voting for the obvious winner really the right thing to do? Krauthammer argues that the O’Donnell win is a Pyrrhic victory; a win that is a loss in effect. If voters behaved other than herd animals, I would agree without hesitation. But a herd vote is hardly indicative of the actual mindset of the people. When disturbed from our troughs of Jersey Shore and Dancing With the Stars, we can remember we are people and not sheeple. The Tea Party is an example of people saying, effectively mind you, “You don’t represent me.” The Republican Party has misread the Tea Party and assumed automatic support, a la the Democratic Party and the Black Voter. Those in power in the Democratic Party have effectively told the Black Voter for years “We will pay attention to you during the weeks leading up to election.” And, that’s all they’ve said. The Democrats over the past 40 years have been the party of the disenfranchised, knowing as they do that the disenfranchised in this country, today, are self-disenfranchised. Which means, in practice, that they don’t know and don’t care that they are being used.
The Tea Party movement is made of people who know they are not disenfranchised, which is why they started these non-partisan movements. Beware labels. These people are mostly conservative in politics, not necessarily Republican. What they want neither party really wants. What they want is strict Constitutionalism. Which means people in power have less of what they hold most dear: power. The O’Donnell primary win is not a Pyrrhic victory. It is, rather, a simple statement to both parties: “You are not representing us!”; the corollary of which is: “So, I’m not voting for you, even if you can win.” It is the beginning of the end of herd voting.
- Thinking about the Buckley rule (powerlineblog.com)
- The Tea Party’s Pyrrhic Delaware Victory (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- O’Donnell down 15 points in new poll (politico.com)
- GOP Internecine Warfare – Less Than It Seems? (themoderatevoice.com)
- New Loose Tea Blends Offer Exotic Flavors, Health Benefits (prweb.com)