"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ~ Mark 8:36 (King James Version)
I couldn't help but think of this verse yesterday as I filled in for Brian Wilson on WSPD and we talked about the recent flap over supporting conservatives or the best conservative who could win.
I understand that the role of a political party is to elect its candidates. But what we've seen over the past years is a tendency to look first at electability and only peripherally at the principles of a candidate.
I believe that's wrong - and it's part of the reason that the GOP has lost is 'brand' as the party of limited government, low spending, low taxation and personal responsibility.
There are many we can blame for this state of affairs, but blame is not as important as understanding why and how it happened and preventing it in the future.
In the aftermath of Christine O'Donnell's win in Delaware, individuals considered leaders in the party blasted her and her record. What they failed to understand is that the people - the Republicans - in her district (the state of Delaware) made it clear who their choice of a representative was. It is, therefore, the proper role of the party structure to accept that choice and support it.
But when the party structure and other 'leaders' assume to know better than the people voting, they are no better than the liberals we criticize for assuming the same thing.
So how did we get to this point?
We decided that winning in the short-term (an election here or there) was more important than standing on principles.
In deciding that a 'battle' at a polling booth was more important than a 'war' of ideals, the Republican Party has sacrificed the core truths on which we have stood for decades. And what we got in return was only a temporary success at the ballot box.
That temporary success was seen as a step toward control, a majority, more power. But it was really more like a toxic drug, giving us a high while destroying the body. So while we were 'gaining the world,' we were 'losing our soul.'
As a result, many people cannot identify what our party stands for and too many think there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Today, voters will look at RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and decide that if they're going to vote for someone who believes in large government, supports raising taxes and thinks government is the first solution instead of the last resort, they might as well vote for the Democrat and get the 'real thing.'
In fact, as conservatives increasingly became disillusioned with the lack of adherence to the conservative principles of the GOP, they either stayed home (as seen in the 2008 elections) or sought out others who still shared their values (as seen in the rise of tea-party and patriot groups). The rise of the tea-party groups didn't just appeal to conservatives, but to Democrats and Independents who also shared similar concerns about the overall direction of the country.
But with the future of the country at stake, these individuals are no longer sitting on the sidelines and they are seeking out ways to get involved. Sadly, because of the loss of the Republican brand, it wasn't the GOP where they found a home.
So what are we to do now? We have a choice: we can follow the misguided direction of so-called party leaders to 'trust' them as to the electability of candidates or we can vote for the individuals who represent our values.
Will we win every race in supporting Republicans who adhere to the core principles of our Party? Probably not. But we will win some - and then we will win many.
Conservatives can run on conservative principles and win. I've proven four times that can be done and there are numerous other examples. Voters appreciate candidates who stand on principles in their campaigns and in their votes once elected. While they may not always agree on the decisions, they will not find fault in an elected officials who says what they mean and does what they say when it comes to those principles.
In the long run, adherence to principles is what defines the individual - and the party.
The choice - and the obligation - is ours.