I have been known to get into a few friendly arguments about the best political strategy for advancing conservatism. Heck, I have even been called a squish since I don't believe you ever win by losing elections. I have long believed in a pragmatic approach to elections that often involves supporting moderates; center-right beats left has always been my motto.
The difficulty comes in accessing who is electable and what the risks are in losing. And this is quite often where the heated debates come into play. When it comes to the election in NY-23, however, I am happy to say this is not really a tough choice.
As evidence today, I offer quotes from two of my favorite writers; but writers with, I would argue, very different styles and perspectives.
First, Jonah Goldberg:
William F. Buckley's policy was always that he was for the most conservative candidate electable. This has always struck me as the most pithy and most sensible statement on these kinds of questions. Protest votes on ideal candidates are ultimately ill-advised and self-indulgent. Though it can be hard to accept the truth of it (take it from a Andre Marrou in '92 man). I agree entirely that the GOP needs more moderates. It needs more everybody. But in NY 23, Hoffman can win. That means he's not a protest vote, he's a vote for the most conservative candidate electable.
Vote for Doug Hoffman.
Next, Richard Brookhiser:
The contest in NY 23 is what the New York Conservative party was made for. The state's cross-endorsement policy means that the Conservatives (and its left-of-center mirror images) generally function as pressure groups, supporting major party candidates they like or undermining those they don't. But sometimes the major party picks a candidate so egregious that the minor party must and can go all out. So it was with James Buckley vs. Charles Goodell in 1970, and with Al D'Amato vs. Jacob Javits in 1980 (early Conservative support helped D'Amato win the GOP primary, leaving Javits to run only on the Liberal line). So it is in NY 23 now.
Vote for Doug Hoffman.
These two writers, and bestselling authors, echo my own thoughts. There are situations where challenging the party or blanket attacks on "the establishment" may be counter productive or unwise. And there are often cases where it is difficult to see clearly what is the best blend of principal and pragmatism.
But this is not one of those cases. I will be rooting for Hoffman. And if you live in the district and can vote for him, I urge you to do so. If you have the ability to help out the campaign, I encourage you to do so.