“The wisest choice would be the one who would win. No sense running Mona Lisa in a beauty contest. I’d be for the most right, viable candidate who could win.” – William F. Buckley, Jr.

The above quote is the basis of what is now commonly known as the Buckley Rule, which basically means that conservatives should ‘in a primary vote for the most conservative candidate who is electable in the general election.’ I would agree with that sentiment, for the most part that is. The one caveat would be to not compromise your principles. More often then not however, compromising our principles is exactly what Republicans have been doing. We let ourselves get fooled by a candidate talking a good game and spinning all the right rhetoric while out on the campaign trail and then once they take office politics becomes a “team sport” as they take a large dump all over everyone who supported them as they swing hard to the left.

Maybe it is about time that we start to reconsider the Buckley Rule, after all Buckley himself didn’t even follow it when he ran for mayor of New York city against the RiNO John Lindsay while knowing full well that he had a snowballs chance in hell of winning. Or maybe the problem isn’t the Buckley Rule and the way we follow it, but with the way we define what exactly does it mean to be the ‘most conservative candidate.’

Talk radio host Dennis Prager likes to say that he prefers “clarity over agreement,” I don’t listen to Mr. Prager very often at all, but I have always been a fan of that line of thinking. What I am also a big fan of is clear and precise definitions to terms and for those terms to not only be used in the proper context, but when used as adjectives for those terms to be attributed correctly.

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point I believe that the definition of Conservatism and the way in which we attribute the term has completely lost all meaning.

SantorumEnter Rick Santorum.

The former Pennsylvania Senator, in his bid for the GOP nomination for the chance to battle it out against Barack Obama in November, is running as the self proclaimed “principled conservative.”

Rick Santorum who admittedly “took one for the team,” in his vote for No Child Left Behind is a principled conservative? Or the vote for Medicare Part D, which he also now has backtracked on, is a vote of a principled conservative?

Or how about these votes below, are they the votes of a principled conservative?

  •  Voted for taxpayer funding of the National Endowment for the Arts.
  •  Voted against a 10% cut in the budget for National Endowment for the Arts.
  •  Voted for a Schumer amendment to make the debts of pro-life demonstrators not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
  •  Voted to require that Federal bureaucrats get the same pay-raises as uniformed military.
  •  Voted to allow food and medicine sales to state sponsors of terror and tyranical regimes such as Libya and Cuba.
  •  Voted for mandatory Federal child care funding
  •  Voted for minimum wage increases six times.
  •  Voted to require a union representative on an IRS oversight board.
  •  Voted to allow illegal immigrants to receive the earned income credit before becoming citizens.
  •  Voted to give SSI benefits to legal aliens.
  •  Voted to give welfare benefits to naturalized citizens without regard to the earnings of their sponsors.
  •  Voted against a flat tax.
  •  Voted to increase tobacco taxes to pay for Medicare prescription drugs.
  •  Voted twice for internet taxes.
  •  Voted to allow gas tax revenues to be used to subsidize Amtrak.
  •  Voted against repealing the Clinton 4.3 cent gas tax increase.
  •  Voted to increase taxes by $2.3 billion to pay for an Amtrak trust fund.
  •  Voted to allow welfare to a minor who had a child out of wedlock and who resided with an adult who was on welfare within the previous two years.
  •  Voted against food stamp REFORM.
  •  Voted against Medicaid REFORM.
  •  Voted to increase spending on social programs by $7 billion
  •  Voted for a $1 billion bailout for the steel industry
  •  Voted against paying off the debt ($5.6 trillion at the time) within 30 years.
  •  Voted to give $18 billion to the IMF.
  •  Voted to raid Social Security instead of using surpluses to pay down the debt.
  •  Voted to allow states to impose health care mandates that are stricter than proposed new Federal mandates, but not weaker.
  •  Voted to increase spending for the Department of Education by $3.1 billion.

Principled conservative? Really? That is just a small snippet of Rick Santorum’s voting record.

Now set aside the voting record of Senator Santorum and take a look at his words:

“This whole idea of personal autonomy, well I don’t think most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. You know, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world and I think most conservatives understand that individuals can’t go it alone.”

Now contrast that with the official Republican Party Platform of 1964, which incidentally contained twenty-six instances of the word ’individual.’ Below is just a portion:

To Republicans, liberty is still today man’s most precious possession. For every citizen, and for the generations to come, we Republicans vow that it shall be preserved.

In substantiation of this belief the Republican Party submits this platform. To the American people it is our solemn bond.

To Stay Free

The shape of the future is our paramount concern. Much of today’s moral decline and drift—much of the prevailing preoccupation with physical and material comforts of life—much of today’s crass political appeals to the appetites of the citizenry—can be traced to a leadership grown demagogic and materialistic through indifference to national ideals rounded in devoutly held religious faith. The Republican Party seeks not to renounce this heritage of faith and high purpose; rather, we are determined to reaffirm and reapply it. So doing, these will be our guides:

1. Every person has the right to govern himself, to fix his own goals, and to make his own way with a minimum of governmental interference.

2. It is for government to foster and maintain an environment of freedom encouraging every individual to develop to the fullest his God-given powers of mind, heart and body; and, beyond this, government should undertake only needful things, rightly of public concern, which the citizen cannot himself accomplish.

We Republicans hold that these two principles must regain their primacy in our government’s relations, not only with the American people, but also with nations and peoples everywhere in the world.

3. Within our Republic the Federal Government should act only in areas where it has Constitutional authority to act, and then only in respect to proven needs where individuals and local or state governments will not or cannot adequately perform. Great power, whether governmental or private, political or economic, must be so checked, balanced and restrained and, where necessary, so dispersed as to prevent it from becoming a threat to freedom any place in the land.

Any reasonable person would take a look at the facts as they are clearly laid out and come to the conclusion that not only is Rick Santorum not a “principled conservative,” be he isn’t a conservative of any kind. Yet, his supporters would vehemently deny this, ignore the facts and proclaim loudly that Rick Santorum is a Conservative because they are a conservative and support him. Which brings me back to my earlier point, at some point along the way since Goldwater in ‘64, Reagan in ‘80 and today — the word ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning.

Related:

Rick Santorum: The Most Anti-Reagan Republican
Rick Santorum is tired of you people wanting the government to leave you alone…
Santorum: Statist claiming to be a conservative
How Santorum Fails Constitution 101