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jca's avatar

Do you think the goal of a political party should be to advance a candidate that represents the party's philosophy exactly, or should it be to advance a candidate that will win?

Asked by jca (28674 points ) January 24th, 2014

This question is not about Chris Christie but I am using Chris Christie as an example.

In discussing Chris Christie (Republican NJ Governor) with a Republican friend of mine, he said that Chris Christie is not “right wing” enough. I have heard other Republicans say similar things – I have heard Chris Christie called a Communist, stuff like that. I know that, at least until the Bridge-gate scandal broke, Democrats that I know say they like Chris Christie and would vote for him.

I feel like who cares if he is not right wing enough, if he wins, isn’t that the goal?

Republicans feel he does not represent their philosophy enough. Democrats feel like since he’s in the middle, they would consider voting for him.

Again, this is not a Chris Christie question, but he is the example that comes to mind to represent my question.

Should a political party’s goal be to advance a candidate that represents their ideals to the “T” or to advance a candidate that will win?

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18 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

To be meaningful, a party must have people win elections. And winnable means someone that is effective at both representing the constituency and at being able to get a consensus on proposals.

In the US, one party seems to be veering off to only allowing candidates of the True Faith, which is lurching more in one direction every year.

BosM's avatar

The goal of any political party should be to advance the interests of its country and all its people. Period, end of story.

ragingloli's avatar

Do you mean ideally or realistically?
And do you mean the actual philosophy, or the publically presented philosophy.
Ideally, of course, they should advance one that represents the party’s internal philosophy, and they either win or lose with that one.
Realistically though, they advance a candidate that represents their publically presented philosophy in order to maximise their chance of winning, and once they are in power, they will enact their actual internal philosophy.

LostInParadise's avatar

Politics is the art of compromise. If you are not willing to make deals, you are not going to last for long. I do not mean this to sound cynical. It is impossible to give everyone what they want. Somewhere along the line compromises need to be made. You or I may not have the stomach for this kind of deal making. That is why we have politicians.

A political party should make the smallest possible deviation that will get their people elected. Republicans are in an interesting bind. What will get them elected in the general election may not get them elected in the primary. There were several Tea Party candidates who were able to get the party’s nomination but got clobbered in the general election.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the goal should for to advance a candidate who will win. I guess it has to be within reason though, the candidate has to hold some of the party’s platform.

I’m thinking of examples like Mayor Bloomberg, who basically was a Republican, because there was room on the Republican ticket if I remember correctly? Maybe you can straighten me out if that is wrong. He can easily fit in as a dem, rep, or independent.

Another recent example is Scott Brown. From what I understand he might run for the Massachusetts senate? And, that republicans are demonstrating in the the streets. Is that true? Or, a rumor. Supposedly, since he supports some gun control legislation on assault weapons and also is pro-choice some republicans are very unhappy.

A lot of northern republicans are pro-choice and are against laws for gun control. This means when they go to run for national office they are going to hit problems with the party and base of the party.

I guess it happens in the democratic party too, but I can’t think of examples.

josie's avatar

Depends on the office. I would want a winner for the Presidency, I would want a party person in the HOR. Split the difference in the Senate.

KNOWITALL's avatar

For once I agree with @ragingloli. :)

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Philosophically, I consider myself to be slightly to the left of the most progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Recently, the US had an election that I believe addressed this point. The Green Party ran a campaign which directly affected the outcome of the contest between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

During the 2000 election cycle, I had a friend who I met during a recurring 20-minute layover as part of our morning commute, The topic of discussion would inevitably turn to the election, and politics in general. We were in agreement on most of the topics we covered, except for the fact that he was a member of the Green Party, and a staunch supporter of Ralph Nader. Our continuing disagreement (very civil and respectful, by the way) stemmed from the fact that I felt that a campaign for the Green Party would dilute the vote for the Democratic candidate. I think that’s exactly what happened. IMHO most of those who voted “Green” would otherwise have voted Democratic, and the results would have been different. The 2.74% of the vote that Nader received would have mostly gone to Gore, the Democratic candidate. That would have put Gore’s numbers over 50%, and probably would have eliminated the need for the Florida recount and the election being decided by the Courts.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@ragingloli ..and that is exactly what always happens.

Adagio's avatar

Politics is all about compromise, parties need to decide how much they are willing to compromise and what their bottom line is. Candidates therefore need to fit comfortably with whatever decisions are made in that regard, you would not want to stand a candidate who was incredibly popular but did not fit the party’s philosophy, neither would you want a candidate who fit 100% with the philosophy but was so unpopular they did not stand any hope of being elected.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Christie is governor of New Jersey precisely because he is a pragmatic centrist and therefore tolerable to moderate Democrats who comprise the bulk of New Jersey voters. Reality dictates that an agenda is pointless without power to implement it. Access to the levers of power therefore trumps ideology, which is why politicians consistently promise more than they can (or intend to) deliver. This is just one of the many facets of politicking that render. it such a slimy business.

jerv's avatar

I feel that candidates should represent the ideals of their party regardless. If you just want popularity, become an entertainer.

That would make me an Idealist, except that I am smart enough to know that that’lll never actually happen.

zenvelo's avatar

Where this whole discussion gets tricky is in how the party platform changes. Ronald Reagan would be called a RINO (Republican In Name Only) if he were still around. That’s how far the GOP has shifted right.

So how does one handle it of one is considered party mainstream and two years later you haven’t changed but the party has? Do you go along with the shift, or do you maintain your philosophy?

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo I wouldn’t call Ronald Reagan a RNO. I do agree that the party has shifted more and more right though. The right thinks Reagan was God. Of course, at least half of them think that because they were told to think it.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie These are the people that thought Colin Powell was a Liberal and are currently foaming at the mouth over the tolerant things that the Pope is saying.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I’m not sure what point you are making.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie That there are parts of the party so far right that they don’t consider some Republicans to even be RINOs.

JLeslie's avatar

Got it.

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