Ace of Spades makes some very cogent points on ideological purity in political struggles:
TMK [Commenter over at Ace’s] is permitted to pursue his Fantasy League Politics as he likes. In his Fantasy League Politics, there simply is no “left” which needs to be countered, and no “center” which needs to be courted. And, actually, there’s not even a “center-right” he needs to ally with.
In his Fantasy League Politics, only the harder, more frothy right exists, the same as in many Fantasy Baseball Leagues where either the AL or NL doesn’t exist. So he only drafts politicians from that particular division in that particular league.
There’s a common thread running through nearly every political movement that suggest setbacks have to do with a lack of ideological purity. The commonly heard refrain “If we just ran true conservatives, the Republican Party would never lose.” Â That’s not always false, and it’s probably more true than many party operatives would care to realize. But it’s not always true. A true conservative isn’t going to win in Massachusetts, New Jersey or California. I’m not even sure what a true conservative is, or should be, and over the years I’ve followed politics, I’ve become convinced those kinds of conversations don’t mean a whole lot.
Winning elections is about assembling a coalition of interests that can put you over 50%, or at least a plurality, of voters in a multi-way race. That coalition is going to necessarily be composed of interests who may not like each other’s goals and objectives a whole lot. But it is also necessarily composed of people who really hate the other side’s goals and objectives.
Even within interests, you have coalitions. NRA itself is really a coalition of Second Amendment defenders, sport shooters, hunters, carry folks, training oriented folks, law enforcement, club and associations, gun collectors, and just about any other firearms related interest you an think of. Even keeping our coalition within a coalition together is frighteningly difficult, even on the easiest of days. There’s very little room for ideological purity in the coalition game, because you have to accommodate interests that are just too diverse.
Threat great difficulty in coalition building is creating one that can stay together. If your coalition is group consists of A, B, C, D, E, and F interests, and F gets uppity, and can no longer abide by A through E, or A-E just can’t abide by the goals or methods of F, it might make sense to tell F to take a hike. That’s largely what NRA did in the 1970s when it ousted the “old guard” who wanted nothing to do with politics in the Cincinnati Revolt. It also happened again when NRA rid itself of more hard line elements that did not understand coalition politics, and that shouting louder was not an effective lobbying tool. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that was the point in time NRA started to become remarkably more effective.
It’s because of that I’m not a believer in purity, and not too interested in talking about what it means to be “pro-gun” or “pro-2A” I’m willing to take a wide variety of ideas in that space. I think we can argue about what is and what isn’t effective, but I think too often we’re not even speaking from the same frame of reference when doing so. That’s a problem that’s a bit harder to solve.