Doug Hoffman, Conservatives, and the Dangers of Unreasoning Partisanship
A year ago, during a special election, the Conservative Party in New York’s 23rd district broke with tradition and nominated their own candidate—Doug Hoffman—instead of placing the Republican candidate under their name.
New York has a system where different parties can nominate the same candidate, and votes for the same person in different places are added together.
It looked like Hoffman was going to win; at the last minute, the Republican candidate dropped out and endorsed her Democratic opponent. This provided just enough of a boost for the Democrat to eke out a win.
It’s difficult to look at the last-minute shenanigans and not think that the Conservatives were right to mount their own candidate. There wasn’t even a primary: the Republican machine put forth a candidate that would be loyal to the machine. Given what the machine did during the primaries this year, her resignation and endorsement was probably part of that loyalty.
This year, Hoffman got the Conservative nod immediately, and then ran in the Republican primary as well. The machine spent a lot of money to beat him, and just barely did so. Hoffman and the Conservative Party initially chose to keep Hoffman under the Conservative line on the ballot. More recently, Hoffman announced that he was dropping out of the race and that his supporters should vote for the Republican.
If we truly believe in advancing this movement and reclaiming Congress and our nation, we must all make sacrifices and set aside our egos and our personal dreams. This was true when a group of patriots founded our nation in 1776 and it remains true today.
While my candidacy comes to an end today, my commitment to conservative principles remains strong. We must all look to the future. Our battle is far from over and we must move forward with a new resolve and a new commitment to the principles we all share.
This was undoubtedly a tough decision. Hoffman didn’t turn around after the primary and decide to look elsewhere. He was already on the Conservative ticket and was a legitimate candidate. He also didn’t wait until the last minute to drop out, and he endorsed the Republican.
The Conservative party in New York is in a precarious position. In the past, the Conservative party has reflexively put the Republican nominee under their name—and ended up with the Republican machine taking them so much for granted that it nominated someone about as opposed to Conservative principles as they could be in upstate New York.
My guess is that the Conservative party is finished with that way of doing things. They’ll still support the Republican when the Republican is a conservative, but not otherwise. When there’s a question, they’ll decide on a case-by-case basis. Hoffman is (hopefully) doing in microcosm what the Conservative party is hopefully doing: letting the Republicans know that they’re no longer going to rubber stamp whoever the machine picks. They may still support Republican candidates, such as they’re doing this year, but they’d better act conservative.
And they’ll keep an eye on them. They’ll no longer support Republican just because they’re Republican. House seats are up for election every two years. In another year, if Doheny isn’t doing what the people of that part of New York want, then Hoffman can run again, or the Conservatives can find another candidate to run. That’s part of the beauty of the House of Representatives.
In similar news, some conservatives are getting angry at the NRA in this “Republican wave” year, because the NRA is endorsing some Democrats. They want the NRA to abandon incumbents who have supported the NRA position and reflexively endorse Republican challengers.
That would be wrong. The reason the NRA is so powerful is because they reward friends and oppose foes regardless of party affiliation. The NRA is not in the predicament that the Conservative party of New York is in: they’ve never been a tool of the Republican party. They support, and have since they were forced to become politically active, politicians who support personal self-defense. They have a standing policy of always supporting the incumbent if the incumbent has voted their way. That’s the carrot to their stick. Because of that policy, the most power-hungry congress in my memory hasn’t even touched self-defense rights. That’s an enviable position for an activist group to be in.
If you want to be in that position, both your promises and your threats need to be trustworthy.
If you’re a tea partier, remember that there is a reason you’re voting Republican, and that reason must be grounded in principle. If politicians can get away with just running against the other party, they will. Take a look at that map of New York 23 again. Those districts weren’t approved only by Republicans or only by Democrats. They were approved on a bipartisan vote. The New York legislators who enacted that map felt more loyalty towards their colleagues in the other party than they did to the voters who sent them there.
Party loyalty is not reciprocated: be loyal to your principles. Who you support, and how, will follow.