Green Room

Jim DeMint Urges Conservatives to Focus on Principles First, Candidates Second

posted at 6:12 am on March 27, 2011 by

Senator Jim DeMint urged conservatives in Iowa yesterday to “get it right this time” with a Republican presidential nominee. Before choosing a favorite, however, voters should first “identify the right principles,” or so he said.

“I hope Iowa will not only be the first state to pick the right candidate… but also the first state to redirect our country to the principles that we want our candidate to carry,” he said. “Those principles that will restore the greatness, the freedom, the opportunity. … We must choose the right principles before we can choose the right candidate.”

DeMint is right, of course. Voters – of whatever stripe – first need to know what they stand for. What is it what they want? What do they believe in? How do they picture the future of the country? Next, it makes sense to select a candidate who actually embodies those principles.

However, that’s not all there is to it. One should also ask the question what candidate has a chance of winning the general election. You can vote for a ‘ideologue,’ sure, but if he then loses the election, you’re further away from home than if  you would have selected a person who doesn’t embody all of your principles, but at least the majority (or the most important ones) of them.

Politics is, has always been and will always be the art of compromise. Those who don’t get that are the ones left standing. They are the ones who become increasingly frustrated because they feel whatever they do, whomever they vote for, it doesn’t make the smallest of differences. And I don’t quite see how that serves anybody.

This post first appeared at Right Across The Atlantic. Follow me on Twitter.

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Have been advocating “principles before personalities” for years and years, here at HotAir included.

But…the usual response is “we have to pick somebody who is electable first…” or “we need a candidate who can win” or “we can’t have a divisive candidate…that’d hand the Dems another victory.”

So it continues…and will…until maybe the electorate, at least that portion which claims it is conservative, patriotic, concerned about which way American is headed, figures out that maybe if we did require a good deal more adherence to basic principles in our candidates, and tolerate no free passes in the pursuit of those principles i.e., a candidate who is pro-abortion, or willing to have more strict gun laws, or believes that just a little more deficit spending is OK, so long as we cut a small program or two here and there cuz ya can’t balance the budget, you know, just too big, or decides that getting a “little” outside of marriage is OK, it’s just a personal matter…

Yes…principles.

If you have them, nothing else matters.

If you do not have them, nothing else matters.

coldwarrior on March 27, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Yes…principles.

If you have them, nothing else matters.

If you do not have them, nothing else matters.

coldwarrior on March 27, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Thank you, coldwarrior. Thank you Jim DeMint.

“Electability” is not a principle on which I base my vote this time.

gryphon202 on March 27, 2011 at 11:19 AM

When the 2008 Texas primary rolled around, the electable question was already decided. Our votes were muted.

On top of that, the open primary system, which allows voters of any stripe to choose the Republican candidate, stinks to high heaven.

I’m all for principles. But what I really want is a vote that counts.

Peri Winkle on March 27, 2011 at 11:33 AM

I still say that Mitch Daniels is the best pick. His record in Indiana is exemplary, he’s very much a conservative (“truces” notwithstanding) and he’s actually electable. I absolutely love the ‘Cuda but she doesn’t a hope in hell. Nor does Bachman. Mitt has RomneyCare. Newt is brilliant but a bit of a loose cannon. And Huck is liar. What am I missing?

DocinPA on March 27, 2011 at 10:37 PM

I still say that Mitch Daniels is the best pick. His record in Indiana is exemplary, he’s very much a conservative (“truces” notwithstanding) and he’s actually electable. I absolutely love the ‘Cuda but she doesn’t a hope in hell. Nor does Bachman. Mitt has RomneyCare. Newt is brilliant but a bit of a loose cannon. And Huck is liar. What am I missing?

DocinPA on March 27, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Your missing Mitch’s alienation of those of us who think that labor unios should be reigned in. Nice try, though. I’m sticking with my vote on principle, electability be damned.

gryphon202 on March 28, 2011 at 12:28 AM

With respect to the author, I think you’re missing DeMint’s point that a candidate’s belief in, adherence to, and ability to persuasively articulate our core principles will go a very long way toward determining their electability.

Please, this time, let’s not get caught up in a mad rush to sell ourselves short before we even know what our prospects really are.

And there is no set of polls, today, that can reliably predict that.

Cylor on March 29, 2011 at 11:43 AM

I absolutely love the ‘Cuda but she doesn’t a hope in hell. Nor does Bachman. Mitt has RomneyCare. Newt is brilliant but a bit of a loose cannon. And Huck is liar. What am I missing?

DocinPA on March 27, 2011 at 10:37 PM

What are you missing??? How about the whole point of DeMint’s argument?? Palin is the answer. Listen to DeMint, to Rush, to Mark Levin, to Kelly Ann Conway when they say forget about electability at this point. Pick the principled candidate and without question that is Sarah. You are buying into the narrative that the media wants you to buy into. STOP IT. Voting for Mitt because that is who the media says you should want is LUNACY!!

Dan Pet on March 29, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Politics is, has always been and will always be the art of compromise.

So when we compromised for the electable McCain, how’d that work out for us? Even moderates turned against him for the far left Obama.

No this time I’ll stick to principles, and if the moderates want to stick with Obama then it’s their own grave they’re digging.

jmell7 on March 29, 2011 at 3:02 PM


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