I spend a lot of time writing about principles. One of my key warnings is that we remain principled in our thinking and our actions; pure pragmatism is dangerous because it neglects the basic truths. Yet that doesn’t mean that principled people shouldn’t be wise. Jesus told His disciples to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. He said that as He sent them out to deliver His message. On occasion, Jesus even told people He had healed to say nothing, as it would have set in motion events that would have hindered His mission because it would have aroused too much animosity from enemies at the wrong time. Was Jesus unprincipled?
The apostle Paul didn’t hesitate to use his Roman citizenship to forestall a beating; in fact, he depended on that citizenship to take him to Rome for a legal appeal. Should we question his commitment to suffering for the Lord? Of course not.
Why am I broaching this subject today? I want to relate it to the attempts by some to challenge the Obama administration. As you know from reading my daily posts, I challenge the actions of the Obama administration all the time, so I’m not averse to speaking out. Not all responses to what Obama has done, though, are necessarily wise. Take, for instance, the movement to impeach him. Now, I believe he is eminently impeachable. He has willfully ignored the Constitution continually. If impeachment could be carried out successfully, I would be fully behind the effort. But there are practicalities that must be considered. Even if the House—controlled by the Republicans—passed impeachment articles, the Senate—controlled by Democrats—would never remove Obama from office.
I supported the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. He certainly deserved to be removed from office. Yet even in a Senate that had a majority of Republicans at that time, not one Democrat voted in favor of his removal. Does anyone think it would be different today? I have no problem with advocates of fidelity to the Constitution making the argument for why Obama deserves impeachment; that would perform a valuable educational service for the voters. But there is no hope of seeing this man kicked out of the presidency.
Unfortunately, all that would be accomplished by moving forward with articles of impeachment would be the tarnishing of Republicans in general and conservatives in particular. It shouldn’t be that way, of course, but that’s the reality we’re dealing with. Rush Limbaugh has come up with the term “low-information voters.” It accurately describes a significant segment of our electorate:
In a more perfect world, such people would never be allowed to choose their leaders. This is not that more perfect world. We have to live with what we have.
Those who read this blog regularly also know I’m a firm opponent of Obamacare. My heart’s desire is to see that abomination repealed immediately, if not sooner. Yet the current effort by some senators—all of whom I admire for their principles—to defund Obamacare is doomed to failure as well. It might pass the House, but would never even get a vote in the Senate. If, by some miracle, enough Democrats, distressed over what they now see are terrible consequences of this law, vote to defund it, Obama will never sign that repeal. Unfortunately, Obamacare is here for now. It will take a Republican electoral tidal wave in the 2014 congressional elections and the election of a committed conservative as president in 2016 to relegate Obamacare to the footnote in history it deserves to be.
The wisest approach for now seems to be to find those parts of Obamacare that bother Democrats the most and focus on those. Take it apart, piece by piece. Make it untenable for it ever to come to fruition. It’s already crumbling from its own inadequacies; help it along that road so it never sees the light of day.
We are called to be both principled and wise.
I’m reminded of the concerns expressed by Whittaker Chambers to William F. Buckley back in the early 1950s as he viewed the tactics of Sen. Joe McCarthy in his fight against communism. Chambers was an ex-communist. He had been the most effective communicator of the evil of the communist system as he exposed Alger Hiss as an underground communist agent in the American government. Yet he could not support what McCarthy was doing. Why not? Here’s what Chambers wrote at the time:
As the picture unfolds, the awful sense begins to invade you, like a wave of fatigue, that the Senator is a bore. . . . The Senator is not, like Truman, a swift jabber, who does his dirty work with a glee that is infectiously impish; nor, like F.D. Roosevelt, an artful and experienced ringmaster whose techniques may be studied again and again. . . .
The Senator is a heavy-handed slugger who telegraphs his fouls in advance. . . . But it is repetitious and unartful, and, with time, the repeated dull thud of the low blow may prove to be the real factor in his undoing. Not necessarily because the blow is low, or because he lacks heart and purpose, but because he lacks variety, and, in the end, simply puts the audience to sleep. . . .
It is more and more my reluctant opinion that he is a tactician, rather than a strategist; that he continually, by reflex rather than calculation, sacrifices the long view for the short pull. . . .
All of us would like to be his partisans, if only because all are engaged in the same war. . . . But, all of us, to one degree or another, have slowly come to question his judgment and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions, his tendency to sacrifice the greater objective for the momentary effect, will lead him and us into trouble. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some irreparable blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.
Chambers was prophetic. McCarthy blundered. Today the term “McCarthyism” is now used to discredit any real investigation into wrongdoing. I’m not suggesting that the conservatives in Congress are like McCarthy in his flair for sensationalism without regard to fact. They clearly have the facts on their side. There is the very real threat, however, that by using the wrong strategy, they may discredit the entire effort. Any government shutdown over defunding Obamacare will be jumped on gleefully by the administration and its media allies. Republicans will be blamed. How do I know? It’s happened in the past, we have all those low-information voters, and Republicans are often the worst communicators of their side of an argument. It’s astounding how ineffective they often are when they try to educate the public.
Therefore, I support all efforts to delay Obamacare’s implementation. I support the conservative senators’ attempts to enlighten the public about its overwhelming deficiencies and its blatant unconstitutional nature (despite the unthinkable ruling last year by the Supreme Court). Take on Obama, Obamacare, and all of his unconstitutional power grabs head-on—but be wise in how to do so. Don’t be tacticians who see only the short term; devise a long-term strategy for success.