Responding to the Critics of My ‘Vote-for-Pat-Quinn’ Strategy

Barb Wire

[Editor’s note: Laurie Higgins’ article, Electoral Nose-Holding v. Sabotage, was also posted at an Illinois blog where the critics filled the comments section. Here is Higgins’ excellent and thorough response.]

Illinois Review published a commentary by this writer regarding my decision to vote for Pat Quinn that has generated a fair number of responses. In short, my reasons for voting for Quinn are that Rauner cares not one whit about the “social issues”; that Rauner is duplicitous; that once in power, politicians like Rauner (and Mark Kirk) spread their ignorance within the party; and that radical, counter-cultural action is needed now before there is no party remaining that will protect fundamental rights upon which a healthy society depends.

Many conservatives will simply not vote for Rauner because they don’t want him elected. I’m proposing a more effective strategy for ensuring that outcome: Vote for Quinn which will perhaps communicate to the GOP in language they understand that we have yet a crumb of power remaining in our bony, scrabbling hands.

Here is summary of some of my opponents’ arguments followed by my responses:

Trending: Itching Ears that Hate the Truth

Laurie Higgins is an idiot.

Such an ad hominem “argument” might offend someone with thinner skin, but ten years of feverish work in my basement laboratory has yielded a remarkable suit of thick man-skin, which I don whenever I publish something counter-cultural. Other conservatives may like one.

Because Illinois is in such dire financial straits, all that matters in this election are fiscal issues.

Every year, conservatives are told that the only issues that matter are fiscal issues. And every year, our influence within the party diminishes. In another 5-10 years, there will be no party for us. The Nevada GOP has already removed the “social issues” from its platform, and there is a powerful, well-funded effort to do the same with the national platform in regard to marriage.

Is it even true that pension solvency and tax issues are the most critical issues in Illinois and the nation?

Perhaps it is the incremental abandonment of issues fundamental to the health of any society (e.g., life, marriage, and religious liberty) that is destroying the country, the state, and the party.

Perhaps it is the unwillingness or inability of Republicans to see the big picture—to see that fundamental First Amendment rights are being eroded—that is destroying us.

Perhaps it is the repeated failure of Republicans to look past the economy and the next four years that is destroying the country and the party.

Perhaps what is destroying us is the constant mind-numbing refrain that since there is no perfect candidate, conservatives and conservatives alone must settle for the lesser evil.

Social conservatives are single-issue voters.

Irony alert: Social conservatives are continually berated and reprimanded for being “single-issue voters” (a false charge, I might add). And who are the beraters and reprimanders? They are the same people who vehemently declaim that only fiscal issues matter.

“[T]he gay marriage issue sits on one plane: what should be the State’s level of involvement in personal relationships. In this election, that train has left the station….Politics is not bold. It does not lead, it follows” (Steve Reick who is running for the Illinois House in District 63).

Even though Mr. Reick has qualified his claim by referring to “this” election, his statement reflects the kind of defeatist attitude that we don’t need in our leaders and is not found in true leaders. Men like William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King Jr. spoke truth to power perseveringly, at great cost, and in the face of seemingly insuperable odds.

In contrast, Mr. Reick believes that “Politics is not bold. It does not lead, it follows.” We need leaders who are bold and who lead.

And, by the way, Reick’s view of politics is not the view that animates and motivates “progressives”—you know, those who in less than fifty years have utterly transformed marriage in a way that no civilization in the history of the world has ever done.

I’d like to hear candidates running for public office explain whether they believe children have an inherent right to be raised whenever possible by a mother and a father, preferably their own, or  whether they believe that mothers and fathers are expendable and interchangeable. If they believe children have such a right, do they believe the government has any responsibility to protect it?

“Politics is not about religion, or philosophy, or morals….”

Just to clarify for those who are confused by deceitful comments from “progressives”: Conservative Christians are as entitled to have their political decisions shaped by beliefs and values derived from Scripture as are “progressive” Christians. For example, it is as constitutionally permissible for those who attend theologically orthodox churches to oppose the recognition of same-sex unions as marriages as it is for those who attend theological heterodox churches to support the redefinition of marriage.

Voting for Quinn is “extreme” and thus undermines the credibility of social conservatives.

When union workers strike, they’re performing an extreme act. When African Americans refused to sit at the back of the bus, they performed an extreme act. When Dietrich Bonhoeffer publicly condemned Hitler, he performed an extreme act. Are all of these acts wrong simply because they’re extreme?

And no, I do not view my decision to vote for Quinn as equivalent to the noble acts of African Americans and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I am merely suggesting that the extremity of an action does not necessarily mean such an action is foolish or unethical.

I have been pushed to this extreme strategy by the cowardice, fecklessness, intellectual laziness, and hubris of establishment Republicans who insult and marginalize social conservatives with nary a backward glance and then petulantly demand our allegiance, money, and votes.

Social conservatives are dividing the party in their naïve, quixotic, and suicidal quest for a “perfect” candidate. Only social moderates can get elected in Illinois.

Socially “moderate” Republicans claim that no social conservative can get elected. But why is that? Is it because socially “moderate” Republicans won’t vote for them—even to fix the economy?

What ho? Could that mean that libertarians and socially “moderate” Republicans are demanding “the perfect” which is as we’ve been scolded ad nauseum is the “enemy of the good”?

Many conservatives faced with the Hobson’s choice of voting for Rauner or not voting will choose not to vote. If you ask the non-voters, “Why are you not voting for Rauner,” they will likely say they don’t want him elected. My strategy is simply a more effective method of achieving the same goal while concomitantly sending a message to the GOP.

Here’s a novel thought: Why not find and fund smart, articulate candidates who are good fiscal conservatives, strong on national defense, and who understand that no country can survive that kills its young, abandons marriage, and fails to protect religious liberty.

Then the GOP can shame libertarians and social “moderates” into holding their big purple noses whilst they vote for the imperfect socially conservative candidate.

(And for the record, support for legalized feticide and legalized pseudo-marriage are positions just about as far from “moderate” as one can get.)

“[T]hose under the age of 40 are increasingly turning away from the overall republican message of fiscal conservatism and family values….”

Some socially “moderate” Republicans argue that the loss of younger voters necessitates silence on the social issues, but they never discuss the factors that account for that loss, one of which is the failure of Republicans—including our leaders—to articulate a smart, intellectually compelling argument in defense of marriage with fluency, facility, and courage.

And then there’s also the failure of Republicans to stand boldly in their own communities when their schools engage in indoctrination of students on issues related to sexuality and fiscal matters (e.g., through the teaching of Critical Race Theory). This indefensible ideological usurpation of public education contributes to the loss of young voters. Rather than pursuing under-40 voters by strategic silence on critical social issues, we should heed Vladimir Lenin’s words: “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” Maybe, addressing censorship and indoctrination in public schools would be a worthy goal.

Laurie Higgins is inexplicably “gay-obsessed.”

I would respectfully submit that “moderate” Republicans are either profoundly ignorant or “gay-terrorized.”

Apparently some “moderate” Republicans don’t see that the beliefs of LGBT activists are transforming the culture, including eroding First Amendment speech rights, religious liberty, and association rights. They don’t see men and women being forced to participate in celebrations that violate their deepest held religious convictions.

They don’t see that children are being treated as property with genetic material being bought and sold with no regard for the inherent rights of children to be raised whenever possible by a mother and father, preferably their own.

They don’t see states redefining marriage so radically that non-marital unions are being recognized as marriages.

They don’t see faith-based adoption agencies being compelled to place children with homosexuals or get out of the adoption business.

They don’t see public schools forcing girls to share restrooms with students of the opposite sex.

They don’t see public high school teachers exposing students only to homosexuality-affirming resources while censoring all resources that challenge Leftist assumptions on the nature and morality of homosexuality, thus transforming education into indoctrination.

Increasingly, our Republican candidates have neither the courage nor the knowledge to discuss issues related to homosexuality. (And those who believe that homosexuality is unrelated to fiscal strength don’t understand the issue.)

And just to be clear, it’s the political Left that is obsessed with normalizing homosexuality and recreating America into its own disordered ideological image. I’m just responding.

“When we [Republicans] talk about what happens in people’s private bedrooms, we lose.”

This statement was made by anonymous Republican bloggers who ironically call themselves the “Illinois Truth Team.”

This is the kind of insulting, deceitful, and reductive rhetoric that already infects the Republican Party. It’s insulting because it’s deceitful and reductive.

Republicans are not talking about “what happens in people’s private bedrooms.” We’re talking about what’s taking place in restrooms in government schools, and in curricula in public schools, and in our courts, and in the halls of Congress and in statehouses across the country. And we’re talking about the erosion of religious liberty and children’s rights.

And these anonymous bloggers call such discussions “silly, blathering.”


Right now, we are seeing the abandonment of conservative principles on sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. This ideological—not pragmatic—abandonment has serious implications for fundamental First Amendment rights, including speech rights, association rights, and religious liberty.

The feckless ideological transformation within the GOP is more serious than even Illinois’ dire fiscal circumstances, and it demands a response at least equal in passion and steadfast non-equivocation to the response to fiscal calamity.

If we don’t send a clarion message to the GOP that we will no longer nose-hold for the Mark Kirks and Bruce Rauners, we ensure more of them. Once in office, this kind of Republican spreads his (or her) ideology. In a few years with Rauner and Kirk at the helm of the IL GOP, will we have a party more or less committed to principles essential to a healthy society?

Social “moderates” laughably argue that we should fight the battle we can win and that later we can “engage the other battles when it will be politically possible to win them.” That’s the whole point: Every time we elect a Rauner or Kirk, we make it less likely that there will ever be a time that it will be politically possible to win victories for life, marriage, or religious liberty. Yes, pragmatism has its place but so too does bold, unequivocal truth-telling.

I will employ my “vote-for-Quinn” strategy strategically. That is to say, in some elections, I will hold my nose and vote for the lesser of two problematic candidates. But not this time.

I am arguing that the ideological transmogrification of the Republican Party into something wholly unable to sustain this Republic needs to be addressed.

I am arguing that single-issue fiscal voters in the GOP apparently cannot foresee or don’t care about the impending loss of religious liberty and speech rights that are just around the corner and which will have an even more deleterious effect on America than will our fiscal mess.

I am arguing that the response to the ideological influence of Hollywood, government schools, and the mainstream press on our youth’s beliefs on marriage and sexuality should not be a more deafening silence.

I am arguing that Rauner will further pollute the GOP in ways that Quinn cannot.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins has worked as the Cultural Analyst for the Illinois Family Institute ( since the fall of 2008. Prior to that, she worked full-time in the writing center of a suburban Chicago high school, where all four of her children attended. She is currently working on bulking up her stick arms by dead-lifting her five grandchildren--one at a time, of course.

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