When we give our endorsement to someone or something, we intrinsically connect ourselves to the object of that endorsement and to the values which it embodies, thus lifting – or lowering – ourselves to the level of the entity we have endorsed.
When we give our endorsement to something moral and virtuous, we elevate ourselves. Our names and our reputations partake of the honor inherent in the object of virtue with which we become associated, and which we acknowledge as representing the righteous standard. Even if our own conduct does not currently embody all of the virtues of the object of our endorsement, our decision to embrace that higher standard will ultimately draw us upward into increasing conformity to it.
Conversely, when we give our endorsement to something of lower morals, or which lacks virtue, we diminish ourselves. Our names and our reputations partake of the dishonor inherent in the object with which we become associated, and which we condone as representing an acceptable standard. Even if our own conduct currently embodies greater virtues than those of the object of our endorsement, our decision to embrace that lower standard will ultimately draw us downward into increasing conformity to it.
You cannot remain on a higher level of virtue than that which you choose to endorse. When you give your endorsement, you make the object of your endorsement the measure of your virtue.
This is why I find myself shaking my head in wonder when people give their endorsement, or other public indication of approval, to a candidate, cause or political organization that does not embody the values that the person has espoused. I realize that they are doing it for reasons of political expediency, pragmatically reasoning that through compromise, their cause can prevail at the ballot box and secure the political power believed necessary for the cause to triumph.
However, by their compromise, these people reveal that their true devotion is not to the espoused principles, but to political power, and thus, they are willing to sacrifice the professed principles on the alter of political expediency. Perhaps they have not been taught, nor have yet observed, that what a person is willing to compromise in order to keep, they will ultimately lose.
For the quarter century that I have been politically active, the Christian-conservative-right has regularly placed political expediency ahead of principle and has demonstrated willingness to compromise in exchange for victory at the ballot box. As a result, nearly everything that the conservative movement once sought to “conserve” has now been forfeited. What we compromised in order to keep, we lost.
I had already been pondering this matter of endorsements and how they lower us to the level upon which we place our stamp of approval, but reading about Dr. Ben Carson’s endorsement of Donald Trump prompted me to put my thoughts into writing. If you don’t see the conflict in Dr. Carson’s endorsement, then please review Nate Madden’s article on, “The Irony of Ben Carson’s So-Called Moral Crisis.”
I’m not saying this to criticize or condemn Dr. Carson. Rather, I am seeing his endorsement of Mr. Trump as a microcosm of the Christian-conservative-right, its strategy of perpetual compromise in order to win, and its ultimate demise as it marches toward oblivion.
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
(John Quincy Adams)
PS. If you don’t understand that the conservative movement has lost what it was trying to preserve, then listen to this 1996 U.S. Taxpayer Party Presidential nomination acceptance speech by former Nixon administration official and conservative leader, Howard Phillips. This speech embodies the values that were once mainstream conservatism. As you listen, ask yourself where these issues are in today’s political discussion – where are the voices championing the ideals of Biblical presuppositions of jurisprudence and strict Constitutional limits? Today’s conservative movement isn’t even on the same battlefield as that of just a generation ago.