Principle First

|| by Will Galloway ||

Columbia – When I first got involved in politics, what attracted me to the conservative movement was the vision of statesmen leaders offering moral leadership and implementing conservative policies with an aspirational, hopeful message. My political heroes quickly became people like George H.W. Bush, Jack Kemp, Rick Santorum, and Carroll Campbell. I also found a large group of similarly minded people who shared that vision. Unfortunately, it seems that far too many conservatives have gotten away from this vision; the hopeful, aspirational conservatism that attracted me so much seems to be in short supply.

On Thursday, November 9, after reading the accusations levied against Judge Roy Moore – which I have every reason to believe – and reading Judge Moore’s responses, I tweeted, “Roy Moore should step down from the Alabama Senate race. Actions speak louder than words, and his actions render his socially conservative talk flagrantly hypocritical. We as a party and movement cannot accept him.” I didn’t think that calling for the resignation of an accused pedophile with a long record of contempt for the rule of law would be overly controversial.

I was wrong. Several “social conservatives” immediately launched into a defense of what I saw as indefensible. I was accused of being brainwashed by the educational system into believing that the Constitution and due process no longer apply. I was accused of swallowing Mitt Romney’s words and opposing law and order. None of this was true; I simply taking a stand in defense of my moral and ideological convictions.

I refuse to accept that we as a movement have debased ourselves so greatly that we are willing to rationalize the election of an accused pedophile. I refuse to believe that our “big tent” has excluded Jeff Flake and welcomed Roy Moore. I refuse to accept that we will listen to Juanita Broaddrick without question, and and yet we immediately dismiss Leigh Corfman as a political hatchet wielder.

William F. Buckley Jr. defined a conservative as one “standing athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop!’ at a time no one else is inclined to do so.” Today, self-identified Conservatives have become very adept at yelling “stop” when the offender is a liberal, but fall far short in holding our fellow conservatives’ feet to the fire and hold them to their presence, and few things have showcased this more than the failure of many on the right to denounce Judge Roy Moore.

That’s why I chose to write this piece. Conservatism means ensuring economic opportunity and governing with moral clarity, and we should hold one another accountable to that definition. That’s not to say that we should be perfect; none of us can be, we are all sinners living in a fallen world. That does not, however, excuse such disgusting and criminal activities that Judge Moore has been accused of committing.

Elections and movements are not courts of law, they are courts of public opinion. When a candidate, like Moore, is accused of egregious and despicable actions and fails to discredit or disprove the allegations, that candidate should step aside. If they fail to do so, they make their entire movement look hypocritical. On the voters side, we cannot accept these individuals, or we earn the charge of hypocrisy.

While on the topic of hypocrisy, I would be remiss to ignore the common cop-out, “But Bill Clinton…”. Clinton’s actions in the run-up to his impeachment were truly reprehensible, and conservatives were absolutely in the right to call him out on it. But we cannot cheapen our own commitment to moral government by defending our candidates by holding them to the standard of Bill Clinton. We should judge our leaders by the highest standards, not the lowest.

If we’re going to successfully advance the causes that we proclaim to care about, moral and ethical leadership implementing conservative policies of economic opportunity, then we cannot accept people like Roy Moore who have a long history of violating those principles. We MUST fight for our principals, and we cannot allow our leaders to compromise on them. And if they do, we must hold them accountable. We must be the ones to stand athwart history and yell “STOP!” even if no one else joins with us.

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