I visit RedState several times each day, but I rarely post. Like many of you, I’ve been frothing at the mouth excited waiting for November 2nd to come and get rid of the Democratic majority which seems to hurt the nation every time it thinks or moves. Because I don’t post, I try to help out as best I can by prowling the Internet for candidates to give money to, especially early in the cycle – my main focus in senators. I’ve given as much as I can spare to Buck, Angle, Toomey, Rubio, DeVore, Paul, Lee, Johnson and even Lamontagne (believe it or not, I was moved by Erick’s weekend post). I sent day-sized paychecks to Joe Miller back when I couldn’t even find a post about him on RedState (and was overjoyed to see his win). But I will not give to either candidate in Delaware, and I would vote for Castle if I lived there, even though he’s the sort of legislator I’d usually rather fall on my sword than support. I thought I might go into why, briefly. I doubt it will lend much middle ground to the raging Mike vs. Christine fight currently unfolding, but maybe it will give you more tools with which to disagree more efficiently.
The basic question is this: what is the minimum percentage of your GOP delegation you can tolerate as being conservatives, where conservative is defined as, “votes like DeMint?” Before you say 100%, hear me out.
As the percentage you demand goes to 100%, you will exert almost infinite resources and time to achieve it, if you even can. Forget for the moment all the arguments about Scott Brown, majority vs. minority, is it or isn’t it like Alaska, and principle vs. pragmatism, and visualize the first number that comes to your head. If you a) don’t have an answer or b) still say 100%, then I think you really ought to before you go forward.
Just like with anything good, there’s a marginal decreasing utility of conservative GOP senator percentage. That is to say, no matter if we have 41, 50, or 67 GOP senators, we only need a fraction of them to be conservative to get the best outcome possible most of the time (as opposed to 2000-2006, where we rarely seemed to get what we want, because that percentage seemed < 10%, at least to me. Thank God for Coburn/DeMint in ’04). Notice I didn’t say a good outcome, I just said the best possible.
I postulate that per the legislative rules of our system, you don’t need 100% of all senators to think as we’d like before you start getting preferable outcomes from lesser factors like party unity, and the filibuster vs. regular vote. Does anyone here think 100% of Democratic senators really wanted to pass the health care law because they personally believed in it? Of course not. The highly liberal wing of the party made enough promises, threats and deals and the remainder went along to end discussion. The same would have been true for just about any judge Obama nominated.
This may stink in the nostrils of some of you, because it suggests we should allow political strumpets in our midst. I sympathize with you. However, I bet you’d at least reconsider this stance if I could demonstrate a conservative yield of 84%, with 60 GOP senators breaking a filibuster and 50 passing the bill that privatizes S.S., or builds a border wall and ends amnesty, or votes in that 5th or 6th judge. On that day, we might be very glad we elected 10 Mike Castles.
Or you might argue that we lost the post-cloture vote 49-51 because we didn’t have Christine O’Donnell. But the point is, you don’t need 100%, and you should know what number you would accept so you know how to marshal your resources, and you know whether or not to spend your time fighting for Christine in Delaware, because she will arguably take more resources. For those of you still repeating 100%, I ask you a followup question – as the bills to pay for the resources necessary to elect 100% conservatives comes due, from where should I make up the difference? Should I give less money to Sharron Angle, Kristi Noem, Scott Walker, or whichever brave soul is opposing Nancy Pelosi? I hope I don’t have to explain why I can’t just fund 100% of the conservatives in this alternative, too.
I’ll even go out on a limb and give my percentage: 80%. I got it by assuming that we should be able to get a dedicated conservative from the 31 states that elected Bush at least 75% of the time, a dedicated conservative from the states that voted within 5% points of Bush (OR, WI, MN, MI, NH, PA)at least 50% of the time, and a dedicated conservative from the rest only 10% of the time. Then I assumed that we will actually elect GOP senators from the Bush states 85% of the time, from the ‘swing’ states 50% of the time, and from the remaining 13 states 20% of the time. That’s 43 good senators out of 55 senators, for roughly 80%. So I’m willing to accept one knuckle dragger for every four statesmen and stateswomen.
While we haven’t won 80% of contestable primaries this time around in the senate (IN, CA, some would say WA, AZ, and NH TBD), we’ll get some of them next time, and given that DeMint and Coburn are already in the mix, we’ll have close to 80% for this class. So to me, there is easily room for someone like Castle in my remaining 20%, to make a bid at a state which wasn’t even within 5% of Bush in either election. Others may pick other numbers, and that’s fine. Just make sure you know where your resource boundaries are, because as Barack Obama is learning, American families’ resources are not infinite.