Conservatives and Integrity

Closing out Aaron Gardner’s excellent series on Principles, Values, and Integrity, we come to Integrity. For the first two installments, see Principles and Values(courtesy Russell Kirk).

Right now there’s plenty of talk about how to take the war to the Democrats, undermine all their efforts at Marxing up the country, disgrace and destroy the media. And we definitely want to do that. I am a part of that movement. I’m a revanchist, I’m petty, vindictive, and vengeful, and I have lots and lots of plans for when Republicans get a chance to even scores. Plans that involve jail sentences, ruined careers, and a good bit worse.

But all in good time, my friends. This is not, and can never be, simply the red team against the blue team. We have principles, good principles that engender freedom, order, and justice. We have values that we hold dearer than our own lives – the sanctity of innocent life, personal liberty, personal property, and justice. But our own internal code demands that we ourselves — and even more, our leaders — live worthy of these principles.

The Democrats can feel free to lift up to positions of honor people like Bill Clinton [serial adulterer, accused rapist, and an unusually good liar], Edward “Ted” Kennedy [negligent homicidist, habitual drunk], John Kerry [fool, tool, liar, treasonist], John Murtha [thief, treasonist], and Barack Obama [we’ll leave his unfinished list of Marxist, Alinskyite acts blank].

We shall not have such leaders.

If we believe in something, and most of us here *do* believe at least in general terms, conservative principles (see the first two essays), then we must stand for what we believe in. And if we stand for it, we must live it. We must have integrity.

I want to make sure that you know I am talking both to grassroots conservative activists (i.e., *regular* people like us) and even more, the party establishment — all the elected officials, judges, party people, bureaucrats that claim to be conservative. This means you.

The word integrity comes from the same root as familiar words integer and integrate. Merriam-Webster defines it as incorruptibility, soundness, completeness. For all you math-hating wusses, remember integers? What were integers? Here’s what they were. They were what we call “NOT fractions”. Things that were whole units, not broken apart, not separated. We’ll spare you math wusses the discussion of integrals. The word integration , most people from my generation know from forced school integration — which was integrating black students and white students together into into one whole student body, dispensing with that “separate but equal” canard.

So, ya getting the idea, when it comes to words that sound like integer? Unity, wholeness, purity, incorruptibility. So previous to now, you might have thought that integrity meant having good character, being truthful under pressure, and being trustworthy — certainly all good things, and a person with good personal integrity would display those traits.

What it fundamentally means is that a person is the same through and through, no matter how you slice him. He’s the same, whether people are looking or not. He’s just as loyal to his wife whether she’s in town or out of town.

As an elected representative, he votes what he campaigns on. His vote cannot be bought by bribes or by promises of quid pro quo. He will not be shaken away from his principles when it gets difficult to stand for them. His voice cannot be silenced by the hostile American press. He will consider the good of the nation before Senate “comity”. [Hint to Senators – this means filibuster pretty much every judicial nominee that Obama is likely to serve up] He will fight, tooth and nail, everything the Democrats want to do, by every means legal. He will consider the lives of American troops more dear than his reputation in the House or in the press.

As citizens, integrity means we provide no moral cover for the likes of John Ensign. That sort of thing gets complicated, but integrity leads us to the right path. Because while we condemn a man like that as unworthy to lead [and that man will never lead us henceforth], we allow room for forgiveness, for a man changing and improving his character. We also make sure he’s replaced in the primaries, and not before. The Democrats and the press will not dictate our actions here, and they’ll not choose his successor. Remember, integrity means, at the end of the day that we love our country more than we love our reputation – and winning with a flawed candidate is better than a Democrat of any stripe getting that electoral seat.

Further, as citizens, we choose right over expedient. I’ll not belabour for long the folly of choosing John McCain for a presidential candidate – not because he was a person of low character, but because he had no respect – none – for conservative principles as a governing philosophy, and we had other candidates who did, who could have pulled 46% or better, and would have had enough coattails to get more than 40 Senators and 178 Representatives. Integrity demands Rubio over Crist. It demanded Toomey over Specter in 2004, and Laffey over Chafee in 2006.

Finally, as individuals, it means we live by our moral and ethical standards. Nobody is without sin, but there is a difference, usually a knowable difference between a person who gives it his best shot, and a person who cynically follows when convenient, and otherwise does not.

We judge when we should. The Biblical directive, “judge not, lest ye be judged” in the context does not mean “do not judge”, it means “judge as you would like to be judged”. The Democrats love to call conservatives, particularly SoCons “judgmental”. We can certainly judge the married cretin and known philanderer who drive off a bridge after a party and leave the young lady (not his wife) in it to drown. We certainly judge the man with $90,000 in his freezer. We judge the despicable crud who used the White House as his bachelors-r-us escapades.

We judge all those, because we are willing to be judged, and to have our own judged, by the same standards.

So I offer you integrity, the linchpin that holds together all the principles of conservatism. It ain’t easy or expedient. If it was, the Democrats would do it.