In my years of following, watching, and being involved in politics there is one event that never ceases to amaze me:
The single issue voter or the Purity test
We see it everywhere, the abortion voter, the gun rights voter, the religious voter, and on and on.
They get lost in the forest while trying to protect or chop down one tree.
And that is why we cannot have nice things.
I fully understand that we all have those issues that we hold dear. I am a big fan of NASA; but to date, I have not voted for or against a candidate based on his calls for increasing or decreasing funds for NASA. Now, he or she starts talking about funding the construction of the Starship Enterprise and I might have cause to think about it.
But back to the idea of political purity. It is the idea that the far right and the far left seems to share. That a candidate that they support for office MUST support every issue they do.
Even further than that, they must do it passionately.
Even the slightest of deviance from it and they will thrash the candidate and actively campaign against them
Not and Right or Left Problem, An American Problem.
I know that once I write things like this, in some people’s minds they automatically start thinking of the single issue voters.
Unfortunately, they only criticize the single issue voters on the other side of the political spectrum. However, political purity is a bipartisan woe.
I have seen Immigration reform opponents oppose a Republican Candidate because of their stance on that. I have also seen a gun control advocate oppose a Democratic candidate because they were not as hardcore as the voter liked.
It goes much further than that. When I was a candidate I saw Liberals deride Obama for the decisions that he made in prosecuting the war on terror. Or the fact that he could not confiscate guns. How many Democrats opposed Hillary Clinton because of her ties to Wall Street.
It never was or is about how overall a candidate would benefit that voter, they see that one flaw.
As a student of history, I see the political purity voters as the zealots of the Dark Ages of Europe. They are the officials of the new Spanish Inquistion. Purists will persecute and destroy any candidate for office that does not fit the pious nature they demand. They will not forgive flaws in their candidates, they want the perfect candidate. A purist will go as far as to lambaste them, all while demanding society as a whole accept them for whatever flaws they have.
The Purists are the most dangerous type of voter. They would allow the election of unqualified candidates just to satisfy their all or nothing purity tests they impose on those who would seek office
Political Purity is Destroying America
Demanding that our elected leaders agree with us all the time is a recipe for disaster. The question should not be, do they support this or that, it should be:
Does this candidate overall meet my overall needs in effective and responsible government?
I can have disagreements over policy here or there with an elected official. But overall, the tone of my support comes from the overall package. Not even our Founding Fathers were the perfect leaders we have enshrined them to be. If any of them had to run for office today, there is no way they win because of our atmosphere of political purity.
They are the standard we like to use when supporting modern candidates, why do we deify them? On that note, why do we expect the virtues of a diety from our elected officials? Why do we ask of them a level of perfection when our feet are made of clay?
In the process of destroying candidates that would make good candidates and competent leaders, we allow even worse candidates to win.
We chop down the forest of good government to save one tree.