Republicans Are Wrestling With Morality vs. Pragmatism: Which Side Will Win?

Credit: WikiMedia Commons

The Republican Party and its voting base have been wrapped in a crisis of conscience, so to speak. Over the past decade, it has been in a position in which it has to choose whether to stick with its emphasis on upholding traditional values or accept a more pragmatic approach when it comes to choosing its leaders.

The ideological wrestling match began with the ascendance of former President Donald Trump, who has been married three times. His brusque demeanor was off-putting to many on the right. But during his 2016, he managed to even win over evangelical Christians who saw him as an imperfect vessel to promote their agenda.

Now, we have the situation with Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who recently came under scrutiny after being recorded on tape getting frisky with her new boyfriend at a stage production of “Beetlejuice” when her divorce from her husband had not yet been finalized.

During the incident, which got far too much media attention, she was reportedly disruptive, was caught vaping in the facility, and even flipped the bird to one of the ushers. She and her companion were escorted out of the building. She later issued an apology, but the damage was apparently done.

Opinions among conservatives were divided, with some criticizing her for engaging in such behavior while being a U.S. Congressperson. Others defended the lawmaker, arguing that nobody is perfect and that her actions, while not great, were nowhere near as deviant as many on the left, who advocate for exposing children to sexually inappropriate material.

On social media, I saw many from both sides of the argument making their case. Radio talk show host Erick Erickson posted a thread on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, in which he advocated for “higher standards” for Republican leaders. “One cannot belong to a party that claims family values and stocks it full of philanderers, adulterers, and deviants,” he wrote.

Several users disagreed with Erickson’s comments. Many pointed out that a politician’s personal life should not be prioritized above their ability to enact policies and push an agenda that promotes the values and freedoms important to their constituents. They argued that the role of a government official is to represent their constituents’ interests, not be paragons of morality.

Others drew comparisons to imperfect biblical heroes like Moses, Paul, David, Noah, and others. Some quoted Jesus Christ when he said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” These figures, with the exception of Jesus, were deeply flawed individuals whom God still used to accomplish marvelous feats.

It’s quite a conundrum, isn’t it?

The average Republican voter would likely prefer that their chosen candidates live upstanding lives. However, for them, having an imperfect leader who espouses conservative values is still better than a Democrat who does not.

At the heart of the matter is the tension between purity and pragmatism. It appears that, by and large, the base has chosen to back people who they believe can push their agenda even if they are not saints.

If I’m reading the room right, and this is actually the case, then is it possible that we could see a Republican Party that no longer even gives lip service to promoting traditional values? Perhaps the party will morph into an entity that focuses more on limited government, free markets, and law and order rather than preaching about the importance of the family.

It might be difficult to divorce the movement from these values, but it could hypothetically be done. Indeed, they might even be able to continue advocating for these values if they also emphasize the fact that nobody is perfect. They could easily highlight Christ’s teachings to illustrate the attitudes we should have on this issue.

Politically, it might make sense. On the Democratic side, they do not even pretend to adhere to these values. This is why it is not a big deal for one of their representatives to have filmed pornographic material while running for office. We might just see a time when this can also be said of the GOP. Walking the moral tightrope isn’t easy, but it might be where the party is headed in the future.


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