Back in July of 2017, Kellyanne Conway was on FoxBusiness rallying support for a GOP health care plan that, like its predecessors, went on to die of lack of support in Congress. During the interview, however, she complained that too many American conservatives were putting “the perfect before the good” in their opposition to what even she admitted was a seriously flawed health care plan that maintained the overreach of federal interference into the health care market, just in a GOP flavor.
This counter argument of “not putting the perfect before the good” has become the go to counter argument of Republican Party faithful when they encounter any criticism of the conspicuous shortcomings of their current political leadership. Whether it be the old “Hey, a least Hillary Clinton isn’t president!” or the more incendiary “Hey, he’s making the right people mad!“, the “perfect before the good” rationale forms the foundation of literally every counter-argument they have.
The inconvenient fact of this argument that its proponents keep skirting around remains that, while not putting the perfect before the good sounds good rhetorically, this morality is already known by another far less appealing name. When we wipe the gleaming polish off the faux exterior, peel back the tacky facade of gold leaf, and, at last, reveal the blackened, polluted, maggot feeding depths writhing vilely beneath, we recognize it by its true name: “The ends justifies the means.“
“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
– 1 Peter 3:17
It is the selfish reasoning of the foolish and the evil, the crook and the tyrant. A criminal rationalizes every cruel transgression of his malicious trade with superficial acts of kindness. A dictator justifies mass graves filled with the corpses of the innocent by pointing to the mass graves of his predecessors. This argument has a long and bloody past, and, worst of all, has absolutely no basis within the moral framework of actual conservative ideology.
Ask yourself seriously, if God didn’t put “the perfect before the good” would He have sent Jesus Christ to die upon the cross and be raised from the dead three days later? If being “good enough” really is good enough, then the Crucifixion and the Resurrection become repulsively unconscionable to all but the most hysterically dogmatic of barbaric prudes. If doing the “wrong things” for the “right reasons” was good enough for God, then Easter would be about fruit in a basket not the Lamb on the cross.
Don’t, however, think for a moment that this means that conservative must seek those who are perfect, because as Paul wrote in Romans 3:10-12, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Perfection within a person is unattainable, so that shouldn’t be our goal. Moral perfection as an idea, however, is real and embodied in the person and life of Jesus Christ, the beating heart of our conservative ideology.
If we, as conservatives, no longer even pretend to seek moral perfection within those who we choose as leaders, who will?
Liberty is For The Win!