This Voltaire quote is one that has been important to me over the years, because I am a perfectionist and my perfectionism often leads to inaction if I can't be the best. (In the original French, the word commonly translated perfect is more properly translated best.)
I think that in this election year, there is much danger of the perfect being the enemy of the good.
Many of us who consider ourselves to be conservative have problems with McCain. The problems have names: McCain-Feingold, McCain-Lieberman, McCain-Kennedy. Barack Obama is, of course, not an option. So we've agonized. Do we hold our nose a bit and vote for McCain because he will appoint those strict constructionist justices? Or do we dip our toes into the tepid waters of third-party politics and cast a vote for Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin?
The addition of Sarah Palin to the ticket has encouraged many of us who are pro-life. She has energized us by showing some of the spirit that we have wanted to see from the Republican Party over the past several years. For some of us, this is looking like enough to make us pull that lever for McCain.
But there are many out there who are still thinking they'll sit it out or vote third party because McCain isn't perfect. Or because Palin is a woman and this isn't her place. Or because they feel like they would be compromising.
The reality is that it will either be McCain or Obama winning in November. Unless something tragic happens one of them will be the next president. It is inarguable that Obama will, at the first opportunity, appoint justices who will protect Roe v. Wade. For me, the appointment of at least two Supreme Court Justices, is a good enough reason to take a chance on McCain.
Those who are teetering and vote for a third party candidate or stay at home will bear some of the responsibility if Obama wins. To quote my favorite band, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Some of them seem willing to take that chance.
I would ask them to reconsider. Politics isn't religion. In matters of faith, certainty and the Perfect are worth protecting, fighting for, even dying for. But in politics perfection is an illusion and even the most ideal-seeming candidates can let us down. Can we afford in this election to let the perfect be the enemy of the good?