Saturday, September 06, 2008

The perfect is the enemy of the good

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?


elephantschild said...

Voting third party in this election is not a good idea. And I say that having the same sorts of reservations about McCain that you do.

Trust me; I voted for Perot, and I've got the blood of 8 years of Clinton on my hands! ARGH!

Jana said...

Amen, amen and amen!!

Susan said...

I came to the comment page to say that I still remember the bumper stickers of 14 years ago: "Don't blame me. I didn't vote for Clinton." And the Perot-voters were exactly the people I did blame, even more than the Clinton-voters.

Still love ya, though, Jenny!

We should not have a two-party system. Theoretically we don't. But realistically we do. And I'm going to play by the two-party rules, even if it bugs me.

elephantschild said...

I was young; I was stupid. My dad tried to convince me of what I later figured out on my own, but to no avail.


PS A two-party system is still better than a one- or no-party system. Trust me, I know. :)

Gina said...

You make a very good point, one that has been hard to swallow in this election cycle, but Palin does make it easier. I really liked the one quote that I saw online after Palin's speech, 'at least with her on the ticket I won't have to get drunk to vote'. I still contend that I'm not voting for McCain, but I will vote for Palin, same difference, I know, but somehow it feels better.

Cheryl said...

Excellent post. As I think you know, I agree wholeheartedly.

(BTW, this is one of Phil's favorite sayings. Not only does it serve one well in politics, but also in church work--speaking not of the doctrinal sphere but of the human one.)

Kathy said...

Well said...thank you for the food for thought!

Phil said...

Spot on, Jane. It's what so many of us are thinking - and you've written it so well. Love the Voltaire and the Rush quotes!

AmusedMomma said...

Well reasoned post with excellent points.