Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Broken Clock is Right Twice a Day

I was reading this editorial by Jonah Goldberg from The National Review when I came across this throwaway paragraph near the end:

I find it revealing that a significant number of conservatives I know (and even work with) either oppose the death penalty on moral grounds or are inclined to. But they are consistently put off by the radical chic crowd, which has grown deceitful, narcissistic and married to agendas no conservative would ever sign on to.
As an opponent of the death penalty myself, this is something I have struggled with. I am firmly in the anti-death penalty camp, and I am unlikely to be persuaded otherwise. I hope we never see it in Wisconsin. As a skeptic of governmental power, I am especially wary of the government's use of the ultimate power - the ability to put its own citizens to death. I find nothing inconsistent with a conservative distrust of government and a belief that occasionally sentencing the innocent to die is inconsistent with a civilized society. (I part on this issue with the wonderful John McAdams, one of my daily must-read bloggers.)

But when it comes time to see my position represented in public, I never see anyone that even appears to have come to their position via thoughtful reflection. It's always some flaming lefty nutjob whose motives are far beyond the moral issues presented by capital punishment. It's always something about how our racist nation has framed a future Nobel Prize winner for the death of some policeman who was probably crooked anyway. And so it goes.

So should I be proud of my association with people I generally loathe? Should I sit back and let Mike Farrell do my talking for me? I'm certainly not ashamed of my position on the issue, but I am definitely ashamed of the company of people with which my beliefs group me. Next thing you know, I'll be seen emerging from a smoke-filled Volkswagen van before I give a speech at next year's Fighting Bob Fest.

I can imagine what it must be like for pro-life Democrats. How can any good Democrat stomach having their views on abortion represented by the likes of Tom DeLay, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed and the rest? (I realize I'm going way back for the Ralph Reed reference, I just figured he has a special place in the hearts of Democrats). If you're a stringent Catholic Democrat, how do you rectify this arrangement? Can we get some kind of support group together?

SIDE NOTE: The death penalty issue is a good test example for how abortion law would look if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Overturning Roe wouldn't immediately outlaw abortion across the nation - it would be an issue to be decided on a state by state basis, as the death penalty is. Some states would have it, and Utah wouldn't. And for people such as myself who oppose the death penalty, it doesn't bother me that other states have it - I'm content with the fact that I live in a state that doesn't. Think pro-abortion groups would feel likewise?