Duncan proves he is a consistent conservativeIn today's Knoxville News Sentinel is to be found a story about Congressman Jimmy Duncan and his consistent record of opposition to the Iraq War. The prolific former judge (whose father was Knoxville mayor) has lately been accused by a few people of not having a conservative voting record, and these folks usually base their criticisms of Duncan on his opposition to the war.
John J. Duncan Jr. is not a pacifist, however. He voted in favor of authorizing the President to use force in Afghanistan, and has supported force when it has been necessary throughout his Congressional career. What he has never been prone to do is support the use of force when it is not necessary, and no one can accuse Jimmy Duncan of being liberal because of that. To wage war is an extremely expensive proposition, both in the financial cost as well as in the more important expense of human life and suffering. It is never a matter to be entered into lightly or without proper planning. Further, our Founding Fathers believed that war was such a heinous activity that we should not willfully enter into combat on foreign soil. Congressman Duncan holds firm to that very conservative belief.
When we look at the raw data about Jimmy Duncan's voting record, we see a man who has a more conservative voting record than either Lamar Alexander or Bill Frist. I don't always see eye-to-eye with Duncan, nor did I have any particular appreciation for how he has handled the Presidential campaign so far. Saying "I endorse Romney," and then bolting to help lead a Draft Fred Thompson movement did not speak well for Duncan's normal steadfastness-he should have waited until the field was more definite. Somehow you could just tell that he was uncomfortable with Romney, and rightly so. In spite of this, however, all one needs to do to appreciate Duncan's fidelity to conservative principles is examine his voting record.
There are many so-called conservatives who change their position with the political wind. Blanket free trade (as in agreements such as NAFTA or GATT) aren't really based in conservative principles, because those agreements are a plethora of regulation. They break down protections while imposing new and restrictive rules on sovereign control. Conservatives have historically opposed those kinds of agreements, yet many so-called conservatives today say that it is conservative to support them-this is not ideologically consistent. Similarly, conservatives have historically opposed interventionist foreign wars, as the Founding Fathers did-it is the conservative thing to do. Yet many so-called conservatives want to play world policeman in a way that threatens our economy, our sovereignty, and the lives of our service personnel. This is not a conservative way to think.
Jimmy Duncan has told East Tennesseans and the world that he is a conservative. When he votes against the war, he is trying to show his constituents that unlike many others, his conservatism is an ideologically consistent one.