Punishing the Party

A lot of libertarian and conservative commentators have been arguing that we should punish the Republican party for its abdication of fiscal controls. But a lot of the rhetoric is a pretty poorly thought-through.

Take libertarian Megan McCardle’s off-the-cuff comment here:

But for me, I think one thing is clear: the Republican party cannot survive without some time in the wilderness.

So conservatives are going to lose if they don’t lose.  What?  If we don’t spend time in the wilderness, won’t that mean we are surviving?

Or conservative Ken Adelman in his endorsement of Obama:

Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

Ok, so an incompetent Republican will discredit the conservative ideology.  Won’t a competent Democrat do the same thing – or the mirror image, gain credit for the progressive ideology?  Shouldn’t Adelman be looking for an incompetent Democrat to endorse if he wants to shore up conservatism’s long-term health?

I’m unsure if there are any good arguments for punishing your own party by voting for the opposition.  But I am sure that most of the arguments I have read have been pretty thin.

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