Like most people with well-defined ideological views, liberals want their political standard-bearers to represent their interests and stand-up for liberalism as a governing ideology. Typically, this is viewed as good messaging -- the public likes progressive policies -- and good politics. As the argument goes, voters want a choice, not an echo, and Democrats would benefit from offering the former. It's what led to liberal infatuation with John Edwards in 2004, and it's what drives liberal dissatisfaction with President Obama.
The broad argument liberals are making is that there isn't a distinction between political success and ideological purity. That is, its possible to find success as a politician while voicing strong progressive views. It's worth keeping liberals in mind when looking at this recent poll from The Iowa Republican, which shows -- by a more than two to one margin -- that the Iowa GOP is more interested in beating Obama than they are concerned with ideological purity. Here's the survey*:
MSNBC's First Read makes hay of these results, calling it evidence that Iowans value "pragmatism over purity," but I'm not so sure. Iowa Republicans might not see a distinction between authentically conservative views and electoral viability. To ask if they would rather nominate someone who can win than someone who represents their views is to ask the wrong question. The more interesting question is whether they see a distinction between the two -- like liberals, do they see electoral success as a product of strong ideological views? My guess is that they do, and that the candidate who can beat Obama is also the one with genuine conservative beliefs.
*I entered the results into a new chart, since the original was ugly.
You need to be logged in to comment.
(If there's one thing we know about comment trolls, it's that they're lazy)