There’s a question that’s been on my mind a lot lately.
In the midst of a stirring debate over whether individual members of the Republican Liberty Caucus should support the Republican Party candidate Marco Rubio or the Libertarian Party candidate Alex Snitker, there’s been a lot of tossing about the idea of “principles.” In particular, the pro-Snitker camp has done a good amount of saying that any vote for Rubio is a vote for “party over principles,” whereas they say that a vote for Snitker is “putting principles first” and “the only principled vote.” Obviously, this leads to the conclusion that by extension they are saying that anyone supporting Rubio is unprincipled.
Wait a minute. What do they mean by “principled,” though? According to a dictionary, principles are “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Doing something on principle – such as voting “on principle” – would be doing so “according to personal rules for right conduct.”
The use of the term “personal” suggests that it would be up to an individual to determine his own code of conduct or management. So it’s hard to declare that one broad definition could fit everyone, especially in an organization that values individual rights (and thus an individual’s right to hold to his own set of principles).
For the pro-Snitker camp, they believe that a candidate must hold to a strict set of guidelines – a litmus test of policies that must be adhered to almost to the letter. It doesn’t matter how many of these issues or policies are considered important by the majority of voters, or even whether voters might reject a candidate for them; or, even, if no particular candidate has those strict values. The candidate must adhere to them, or they will not support them. There is no middle ground. You are for their specific ideals, or you are against them. If you are for them, you should be supported fully, as the “principled” vote. If you are against them, then you should not be voted for, and as you do not match their personal basis of conduct or management, you are “not principled.”
For the pro-Rubio camp, there are a variety of reasons to vote for him. One is that he is a Republican candidate, the man who succeeded in the primaries as the best option. As members of the Republican Liberty Caucus, which is dedicated to working through the Republican Party, this makes him the more correct choice for them. Another reason is that he is good enough (or better than good enough) on the issues they feel are most important. And in some cases, he might not be ideal, but they see him as being a much better option than the other likely winning candidates, and he can be a shift toward their ideals much more than any of the other possibilities would be.
All of these are their own personal basis of conduct or management. In other words, their principles. So for these individuals to choose to support Marco Rubio, they are making a principled choice.
Similarly, for other individuals to choose to support Alex Snitker, they are also making a principled choice.
With that said, I would hope that no one continues to make suggestions that any vote that does not match their own is not a vote being made based on principles. To claim that because someone is not supporting your guy, that it means they are not acting based on principles, is a very offensive comment, and simply isn’t true in the slightest.
The issue of which candidate to support based on matters of caucus procedure, strategy, and such may still be open for debate. But as long as each individual believes that their support is the right move to get closer to their ideal goal in the liberty movement, there should be no debate that each of them, whether for Rubio or Snitker, is making a principled decision, and will be casting a principled vote.