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Those Pesky Conservative Principles

Being pragmatic in the application of one’s principles does not manifest a lack of principle. I recall that some admired Paul Ryan and put down the Tea Party – in part because of Ryan’s willingness to accommodate, versus the Tea Party insistence on ideological purity. They made a point about how Ryan’s pursuit of the half loaf is preferable to the Tea Party’s willingness to throw out the loaf altogether. Perhaps we are quibbling on definitions here. For me, the pragmatic approach (or the “what works” approach) is similar to incrementalism: see what is possible and advisable under current conditions and then go that far. An example is the Pro-Life Movement. In principle, they oppose all abortion as the act of taking an innocent life. As pragmatists, though, they have come to realize that by focusing on late-term abortions (infanticide) they are making greater inroads than by focusing on all abortions, per se. Of course, the real question is whether the pragmatic approach is in pursuit of the principle. That,… Keep Reading

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