Nov 08 2006
The anger at the American peoples’ verdict on the Republicans is understandable – but it is causing Rep and Cons to miss the lesson here. I have heard a lot of normally smart and observant people conclude the right was not far enough right! Wrong answer. As I posted this morning, the country turned their backs on the Reps because the reps have been on a ‘purity’ binge the last year or so beating up on Bush for not being conservative enought. It first raised its ugly head on Myers. And no, I could care less whether Myers was confirmed – my point has always been she deserved to be heard before we rejected her, not because David Frum had a personal ax to grind. I don’t care about that either.
The purity effort results in deroguetory comments like “RINO” and “True Republicans”, like there is some requirement to agree with a single dogma. It was really bad in the immigration debate when the House would not allow those conservatives that wanted to document and background check the workers here already and instead would only build a fence. And this was after the tone was set by claims we should round people up and toss them out of the country if they don’t have a work permit. The penalty for the lack of a permit was back taxes, a background check and no break for applying for US citizenship. I would have added a processing fee as well to fund the effort. But those penalties were considered amnesty. And if you challenged this view you were a RINO or a moderate. Whatever the name, you were impure.
Not being a Republican this meant nothing to me, but it took a toll on people who share 50-80% of the Republican vision and who were willing to work on those aspects. For those who couldn’t stomach the liberal solution working with Reps on common ground was fine – as long as it was respectful. Well the purity police are out again, because they have been rejected at the polls. There answer – move farther right, become more pure, cede more of the middle to conservative Dems (or at least people dressed up as conservatives)
Because folks, that is how the Reps got beaten. Democrats fielded candidates that represented those aspects of the conservative philosophy that have broad agreement. They highjacked conservatism from the Reps. Let me use an example. The country agrees on parental notification and partial birth abortion, but doesn’t accept making abortion illegal. They just are not there yet. So Reps were doing fine when they were not only making progress, but outlining why the next step was also good policy. Until they get impatient and start calling those who want to step towards the goal less than pure, not true conservatives
So the dems tapped these people on the shoulder and said “we see what you are thinking, we will work with you”. And they may. Mark Levin was commiserating with Delay on the radio tonight saying the Dems will let the facade drop and the voters will get buyer’s remorse. I don’t think the dems will. I think they will start stepping America leftward in small, acceptable steps building confidence as they go. At least they should if they want to hold power. And we all know they want to hold power.
There is something about purification that is unavoidable. The process is widely used to remove impurities and create a monolithic product with no variations or imperfections. The problem is, in all purification processes, the amount of material you end up with is a fraction of the material you start with. The more you purify the less you have at the end. If the Reps decided to go farther right and eliminate diversity so they don’t have to expend the effort to debate, convince and – yes – compromise. Then they will be sitting comfortably in a small echo chamber talking about what ‘could be’. There is blame to go around, but the first thing is to understand the left stole a part of conservatism. They had to give up some liberalism in the process. Look at Bob Casey! He is pro-life and supports the NSA program. There is not enough distance between Casey and the commonly supported conservative principles to make it a big penalty to oust a fine man – Santorum. I think Santorum is the better of the two, but if Casey respects diversity and is willing to look for common ground he will win over someone who won’t (and I am not talking about Santorum – I know he was not like this). But Reps earned a bad reputation every time they tried to impose purity standards. Every call of RINO violated Ronald Reagan’s 12th commandment. Lincoln Chafee may have little common ground with us, but at least he voted for Rep control of the Senate. Insulting Olympia Snowe and John McCain insults everyone who finds these people to be honorable, reasonable, good Americans (not good Republicans) through implication. If the Reps think purification is the answer, then they really have totally missed the point. If you find Americans to be the best people on earth, then don’t insult their verdict. Work to change that verdict and again work with them to find common ground. Where there is no common ground, instead of purity-insults try being patient and allowing adjustment time and steps. Be flexible when the right path is being taken and don’t get too frustrated the pace is not to your liking. Leaders of large groups sometimes have to allow the pace to be set by those who walk the slowest – if they want the group to stay together.