Twice in my adult life, I considered abandoning the GOP and voting for a Third Party candidate for president.Â And each time, after considering the alternatives, understanding that my vote for a non-Republican would be one less vote for the candidate mostly likely to defeat an untrustworthy Democrat, I returned to the Republican fold.
In 1992, upset with then-President George H.W. Bush for not holding the line on domestic spending and hiking taxes after promising not to, I briefly flirted with voting for Ross Perot.Â But, the more we saw of that Texan, the more unhinged he appeared.Â Still, even as late as Election Day, I considered pulling the lever for him.Â In the voting booth, when I saw Bill Clinton’s name, I opted for the man who had once so loyally served the Gipper as Vice President.
Almost twelve years later, when that Bush’s son endorse the Federal Marriage Amendment, I considered voting Libertarian even penning, er, pixeling a number of e-mails to a libertarian listserv, weighing the advantages of voting for a candidate who had no chance of winning.Â I wrote in Rudy Giuliani for President in the California primary.Â But, then I started listening to John Kerry.Â I returned to George W. Bush’s camp.
A comment to my recent post on the Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele’s unfortunate statement on same-sex civil unions caused me to revisit the choices I made to vote for Republicans named Bush with whom I disagreed on important issues.Â While praising me for criticizing Steele, Tom in Lazybrook asked if there would be “any loss of support for the GOP by the Gay Patrioters?”
Despite the tone on his comments (and of my hasty response), I grant there is some merit in his question.
Why should we support a party when we don’t agree with its leadership on every issue?
I would rather the GOP support repealing the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell ban on gays serving openly in the military and of enacting some kind of federal recognition of same-sex unions.Â But, Republican demographics being what they are, that, alas, is just not going to happen, at least not on the national level.
Simply put, few people can agree with their party on every issue.Â And for now, the GOP, imperfect though it is, represents the best bet for challenging the spendthrift policies of the incumbent Democratic Administration and its fellow partisans controlling Congress.Â If an alternative party emerges with a real chance of political success (as did the Republican Party in the 1850s), then I would gladly support it.
While the Libertarian Party is certainly solid on domestic issues, its leadership all too often suffers from the Ross Perot syndrome, sounding good at first, but coming across as unhinged after they’ve been at the podium for too long.Â Not just that, at this point in time, we need a more assertive foreign policy.
So, yes, I am very concerned about Michael Steele’s recent statement on same-sex unions.Â While it might be reassuring to social conservatives, it is counterproductive at best.Â It won’t help the GOP win those most easily reached right now, socially liberal/fiscally conservative independents who abandoned the GOP in the last election because of the Democratic nominee’s campaign commitment to holding the line on federal spending.
They’re not likely to join (or, in some cases, return to) a political party which appears to prefer social issues to fiscal ones.
Should, however, the president continue in the direction he has been heading since his inauguration, they too might support Republicans as the most viable alternative to Obama’s big-spending Democrats, saying something similar to what Winston Churchill said about democracy, that the GOP is the worst political party except for all the rest.