As we are trudging through a contested primary season in the blogosphere, I find myself writing mostly about the various unseemly tactics used by campaigns to vilify their fellow Republicans. Then I read similar story-lines elsewhere in other primaries, with fire-bombs being thrown in comment sections, ad hominem attacks that would never be uttered in person, and the “establishment” or the “crazy-right” or the “moderates” or the “Tea Party” or whomever is the target de jour being labeled and pilloried for this or that. All of this going on in a divided, struggling party where we treat each other way worse than we treat the liberals who should be the focus of our ire.
There are no liberals or Democrats running for office as Republicans anywhere in Virginia. No, not even in Northern Virginia. No, not even him. There are some more moderate Republicans, some more libertarian Republicans, some more socially conservative Republicans, some more pro-business Republicans, some newly-minted Republicans, some neo-cons, some of every stripe of conservative. Many of them may be less conservative or more conservative than you. Many of them may take shelter under a distant part of the umbrella that we conservatives gather under to support Republicans.
All of them are a better option than allowing Democrats win. Any of them is better than having an actual liberal elected to office. All of them are your brothers or sisters in arms in the fight against government overreach, tax-and-spend politics, the nanny state, etc. And come Wednesday someone will be the nominee in each of these contests. Many will be disappointed that their candidate did not win. Many will still be hurting from the inappropriate attacks that we hurl at each other during primary season. And so the question is how do we move forward?
Well, all of those running and supporting candidates this primary season also have something else in common. All of them have invoked Ronald Reagan at some point. We all do. He is the touchstone that all conservatives share. So we should ask ourselves as Wednesday arrives, What Would Ronald Reagan Do?
The answer is simple. He would whole-heartedly support the nominee. He would call a halt to the ad hominem attacks and flame-throwing we have subjected each other to and re-focus our attention on defeating the Democrats in the general elections. He would tell us that the umbrella is big enough for everyone, and we should all just move a little closer to each other so everyone could fit underneath. He would remind us of the 11th commandment, and the 80-20 rule. You remember those?
The Eleventh Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
The 80-20 Rule: “Somebody who agrees with me 80 percent of the time is a friend and ally, not a 20 percent traitor.”
In the echo-chamber of the blogosphere we all-too-often forget these rules. In the rough and tumble of a primary campaign these rules are too readily abandoned. I’m guilty of it as well, we all are. But that doesn’t mean we have to continue to be guilty of it. It doesn’t mean we can’t improve next time.
So, come Wednesday when you consider how to respond in victory or defeat, keep in mind these two rules. The victor should reach out to the losing candidates with an open hand, and the losing candidates should take that hand and rise in support of their fellow Republican. Surrogates, supporters, and interested bloggers should likewise rally under the umbrella so that we can all push together for victory in November. That is the goal, remember? And that is what Ronald Reagan would do. Because even if you disagree with that candidate on some major issues, they are still way, way better than the Democrat that could be there instead.