It’s not hard to understand why you are so upset about the results of the election. Let’s be honest–your candidate, Mitt Romney, lost to a man who is arguably the worst president in the history of the nation. Although your astonishment that the man who lost to McCain in 2008 and who your whole party tried desperately to avoid in the primaries lost the election is a bit surprising, your reaction since the election has been quite refreshing. Many of you seem to realize that the Republican Party is on the verge of irrelevancy, and you’re scrambling for answers. You are asking if it’s time to loosen your stance on issues like the drug war, gay marriage, abortion, immigration, national
defense offense, etc. Of course the answer to that question is “yes”, but you seem reluctant because you don’t want to “sacrifice your principles”.
This is the wrong way to look at it. You are using the word “principles” incorrectly and sem to be confused of how principles are meant to be applied. The first thing you have to do is understand the definition of the word “principles.” Then you have to further understand that there is a difference between personal principles and political party principles.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, principles are “[rules or beliefs] for governing one’s personal behavior.” Therefore, if you are opposed to gay marriage and decide to marry a person of the opposite sex, then you have remained true to your principles—regardless of what you are allowed to do within the scope of the law. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does, or even what your party’s principles are, because principles are personal.
Now that you understand that principles are individual beliefs, you have to acknowledge the difference between personal principles and political principles. Political principles (arguably defined as “the rules or beliefs for governing the policies of a political party”) must be far broader in scope than one’s personal principles. This is because a political party is made up of a wide range of individual people—each with their own subset of personal principles. If the principles of a political party are too narrow in scope (defined by specific policies rather than general philosophies), they simply limit access to the point of irrelevancy. This is what’s happening to you.
So, what are the principles claimed by the Republican Party? Although the personal principles of many Republicans may include strong beliefs about gay marriage, abortion, drug laws, and a wide range of other specific topics, the party principles are far broader than that (as they must be for the sake of inclusivity). The commonly stated principles of the GOP are beliefs in strict adherence to the constitution, minimal taxation, fiscal responsibility, and small/un-intrusive government.
This is where you run into trouble, and why you simply must loosen your party stance on policies that are based on personal principles. You have to realize that, the more you push your personal principles to the front and center of your party’s philosophy the more you limit access to your party. Compounding this problem is the fact that your personal principles often stand in stark contradiction with the expressed principles of your political party—making you appear to be hypocrites. How can you honestly say your party stands for small/un-intrusive government, and then say your government should intrude into who you can marry or what you can put into your own body? How can you honestly say your party stands for small taxes and fiscal responsibility, and then advocate for astoundingly expensive drug wars and foreign occupations? How can you honestly say your party wishes to remain true to the constitution, while supporting the Patriot Act and undeclared wars?
You are not in jeopardy of abandoning your party’s principles by putting your own personal principles on the backburner. You’ve already abandoned them by pushing your personal and contradictory principles to the forefront. The only way to keep your personal principles and your party principles alive and intact at the same time is to live your own life according to your personal principles, and stop expecting a big, tax-funded, overly intrusive government to prevent others from doing the same.