Principles are, at bottom, what our politics are founded upon. But that doesn’t mean that principles are inviolate, or that they should come at the cost of common sense or self-preservation.
That seems to be the crux of the debate occurring on the Right at the moment. A dwindling faction of Never Trumpers argue that “decorum” and principles must be preserved at all costs, even if it means perpetual political defeat, if it means we’re on a higher road than our enemies to the Left.
The Trumpist and Dissident Rights, on the other hand, argue that we should jettison the Marques of Queensbury rules and noodle-wristed, David Frenchian hand-wringing over decorum and process to fight our opponents like backstreet scrappers. Since the other side doesn’t follow any rules, the argument goes, the Right can at least loosen up a bit, and not stress out so much about policing its own side, when the Left steadfastly refuses to do the same.
This difference in approach suggests, of course, the different philosophies underpinning the Left and the Right. The Left is motivated by nihilism and lust for power. The Right is largely motivated by maintaining strong families, strong faith, and a strong nation. In the West, the Right is, philosophically if not always theologically, Christian, so it’s natural that it treats its ideological opponents with tolerance, respect, restraint.
The progressive Left—ironically descended, in part, from the Puritan impulse to eliminate, rather than hem in, evil—prefers total destruction of its enemies, and constantly redefines what constitutes heresy to achieve ever greater degrees of “social justice” and “purity.”
The New Criterion had a piece I’ve been sitting on for awhile, waiting for a slow news week. While it’s been eventful, nothing today really caught my eye. I’m in the middle of my glorious, late-in-coming Spring Break this week, and there’s something about being out of the normal routine that has my mind working more sluggishly than usual.
“‘Principle’ Parts” by James Bowman is about the Brexit process, and Theresa May’s disastrous performance thereof. Rather than just ripping off the Band-Aid—what America did when we declared independence from a frosty, overbearing, overseas power—the Prime Minister has equivocated, betraying the will of the British people, trying to work out a deal rather than a—gasp!—“no deal” Brexit.
As Mark Steyn presciently points out in another piece, “Exit Brexit,” taking a “no deal” Brexit off the table undermines all of Britain’s leverage in negotiations. Theresa May, like so many other polite “conservatives,” invested more in being the good schoolgirl going through the process than fighting for the interests of her country. The end result: selling out to a supranational tyranny that lacks the military ability to enforce its odious bureaucratic despotism.
Principles are important, but they mean nothing if we’re not allowed to defend them out loud in the pubic square. The state of the battlefield at present requires tooth-and-nail battles. The Right should spend less effort policing itself—and thereby limiting its effectiveness to a token “loyal opposition”—and should instead doggedly go after Leftists and their nihilistic, lethal ideology.