A monumental victory

Without mentioning either French or Ahmari by name, or indeed referencing their ongoing debate, the Washington Examiner columnist Quin Hillyer comes down squarely on the side of genteel proceduralism. There is a boring moral dimension to the piece, which we’ll dispense with just to get this yawn out already:

One of the worst developments in the Trump era is the widespread belief on the Right that if conservatives want to win, we have to “play dirty.”


The sentiment is terribly self-defeating in practice and, worse, morally monstrous.

It is self-defeating because conservatives think they are the “good guys” against the supposedly evil Left. If this is so, and winning is dependent on who can go lower, then there’s no way conservatives could ever win in the long term. Logic says that in a race to see who can win by playing dirtiest, the side with fewer scruples will always be willing to go lower. If conservatives think they are superior, they must think their consciences or character are better than the Left’s. Therefore, either they will never succeed at out-dirtying the Left (because their better character won’t allow it) or they will, thus refuting the idea that their character really is superior.


For those who can’t do syllogistic logic, though, the reasoned argument from morality should prevail anyway. One should do the right thing because it’s the
right thing. Period.

Right, you stick to your high-moral proceduralism and watch a court order you to stand by idly while your ex-wife* chemically castrates** your 7-year-old son — with all of the procedural legalities impeccably observed.

For those of us who are amoral realpolitiks, Hillyer offers a pragmatic reason to fight clean:

there’s a better way, much more effective, than playing dirty. The way to win is not by playing dirtier, but by playing smarter. Ronald Reagan showed as much. So, in its way, did the early Tea Party movement, which helped catalyze a monumental midterm victory in 2010 and then resulted in a huge slowdown in President Barack Obama’s federal spending. That win involved using high-energy, but usually very polite, methods.

There you go, folks. You stick to that gentlemanly proceduralism, and by golly, you might just get to slow down that cultural Marxist juggernaut. Too bad this guy wasn’t on the Titanic — he would’ve done a splendid job rearranging the deck chairs.


* This is of highly tangential relevance, but we did not know whether “Quin” is a male or a female name (google indicates it’s unisex). The column in question does not indicate Quin’s preferred pronouns, but Wikipedia uses “he/him”.

** As luck would have it, that’s another Examiner story — so it shouldn’t be a far stretch for Quin Hillyer to read and meditate on it.

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