It turns out that Hawkins opened the proverbial can of worms. His argument generated a couple of worthy responses: Adam Graham's, "No, The Right Doesn’t Need to Play as Dirty as the Left," and Clarendon's, "Thoughtful Conservatism Can Win Hearts and Minds."
Hawkins responded to Graham's piece with, "Attention Conservatives: Nice Guys Do Finish Last." He cites Machiavelli:
There is such a gap between how one lives and how one ought to live that anyone who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation: for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.” — Niccolo MachiavelliRegular readers know that I've written much about these issues (see, for example, "Kos and Andrew: Merchants of Hate," and "The Commentocracy of Hate"). It's perfectly clear to me that while both left and right engage in hardball - and often undignified - political conflict, there's a specific and unrivaled secular demonization on the left that conservatives - by nature of their values - will never match.
Again, I'm not exonerating conservatives of their worst excesses. My point is that day-in and day-out, collectivist partisans dig down, endlessly, to the depths of depravity to demonize and excoriate conservatives, often in ways that truly defy moral reason, much less common sense.
At Down With Tyranny! this weekend, Mike Huckabee - who warned of a potentially fatal Republican schism over social issues - was smeared with a "I now pronounce you Huck and Chuck" Photoshop. At the same post, Republicans are slurred "Limbaughist extremists" and "lunatic fringe America-haters", while Senator James Inhofe was lampooned in Photoshop as a bigoted clown (below).
Yeah, I know, I know, this is supposedly tame: It's just political comedy and partisan satire. It's always okay when leftist drag their knuckles with shameless attacks on conservatives. When Wanda Sykes calls Rush Limbaugh the "20th hijacker," that's brilliant comedic theatre. When TBogg attacks conservatives using Sambo displays, it's incisive satiric commentary. When Sadly No! Photoshops Thomas "Uncle Ben" Sowell de-Nazifying William Buckley's toilet bowl, that's "hilarious," says Dr. Hussein "Arlon" Biobrain.
But the fact is, conservative just don't go that low.
And I think Hawkins is right when he says it's foolish politically for conservatives to "pat ourselves on the back for being 'better than they are' because we let them do it?" Hawkins looks to Machiavelli, but we might also recall Reinhold Niebuhr's Christian realism, which holds that society will never confirm to the ideal "Heavenly City." Thus a hard-headed, morally robust approach to politics is possible without capitulating to a utopianism that works only to empower the secular leftists and their moral hypocrisy.
I'm routinely attacked by the secular collectivists for not taking "the high road." These folks, of course, are the very same people who turn around and post truly juvenile character assassinations against me, with slurs, for example, as "Donald the Moose":
So, to me, it's not so much that "The Right Doesn’t Need to Play as Dirty as the Left." We can never be that dirty!
The key is to recognize that the necessity of power on the "Earthly City" requires the occasional willingness to get down in the muck and give as good as it gets. Conservatives by beliefs, values, and temperment will never succumb to the level of diabolical excoriation that we routinely find on the partisan left. But conservtives must know this: Refusing to look at the problem realistically amounts to unilateral disarmament, and thus political impotence. And a willingness to engage realistically is the political requisite for survival of the moral order and regime stablity.
Conservatives can finish first, and they owe it to themselves and society to settle for nothing less.