AFTER RINO HUNTING COMES THE LITMUS TEST

December 2, 2009

Last week in my Political Issues article I discussed the need to go RINO hunting.  If you miss that article click here. In summary of that column let me just not that a RINO is one who is a member of the Republican party but espouses the same ideals and politics of moderates and liberals.  They spend like there is no tomorrow and. like President Bush, won't veto anything that may promote his or her re-election. 

RINO's are "Republicans in Name Only." They are no more Republicans than Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton.

There is a movement afoot seeking to move beyond the RINO hunting (many of whom have already been identified) to providing a litmus test for GOP acceptance into their fold.  I personally think this is foolish as I have already made several calls for a third party, i.e. a Conservative Party, or a move for all Conservatives to join the Constitution Party and bolstering that movements into a powerful third party.

Although purging the Republican Party of moderates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney may be one way of building a conservative union, it will create more problems than it is worth.  Those expelled from the party will more over to the Democrats and may form an enduring reign of moderate-liberal policies which may never be broken.

Should the GOP have a litmus test? Should RINO's be purged? And what is really going on that could, maybe would, result in a major third party?

During the election cycles of 2006 and 2008, the Republican Party was sent a message. It was cast out of power. Americans wanted something different, and, of course, the "leaders" of the Republican Party were left scratching their heads and asking, "Hmmm... I wonder what the voters want?"

It is exactly that type of thinking that got Republicans in trouble in the first place. Rather that sticking to a set of conservative principles that all Americans could follow and understand, Republicans started playing the Democrat game of "constituency" politics. We all see what happened. Now, Republicans have a chance to regroup and reorganize and get back to conservative basics. In order to do so, some members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) are proposing a set of 10 conservative principles that they want candidates to follow. Is this the right step?

First, let me explain "constituency" politics, because it is one -- or has been one -- of the clear differences between Republicans and Democrats. Even when I was younger and didn't have an in-depth knowledge of conservative principles, there was something that attracted me to the Republican Party: in their message, they spoke to all people. Ronald Reagan spoke to all people. The Republican Revolution was based on principles that spoke to all people.

Democrats, on the other hand, spoke directly to whatever group they were trying to attract that day. Are you a woman? We have a policy for you. Are you black? Come check out our latest bill tailored just for you. And on and on... no set values... just feeble attempts to win over one group or another by promising them something. I think this approach is completely pathetic.

But... that's exactly what Republicans began to do. In addition to changing from conservative warriors to typical politicians by spending, spending, and spending, they also put their focus on staying in power rather than advancing the conservative cause. When this is the focus, constituency politics comes to the surface. Hmmmm... we need to attract the elderly. I guess we need to bribe them with a huge NON-CONSERVATIVE new entitlement for prescription drugs. Oh.... the Hispanic population is growing like crazy in America... I guess we need to buy them off with amnesty for illegal aliens. See... pathetic!

After being cast out, now is our chance to regroup. We have all quickly seen that Americans were sending a message to Republicans in the last election. The want good conservative government and they weren't getting it. So, they went for change, for change's sake. And now we are in worse trouble.

Election results in New Jersey and Virginia show that running against Barack Obama and running on a simple conservative platform is a winning ticket. The debacle in New York's 23rd congressional district, however, shows that party leaders still don't get it. By nominating a candidate more liberal than the Democrat, the election was thrown into chaos when rank and file Republican voters rebelled.

Some members of the Republican National Committee (RNC) want to make sure such candidates or RINOs (Republicans in name only) don't get on the ballot again. They want to make sure that candidates who believe in conservative principles are the ones who get RNC support. So, 10 RNC members have signed on to a resolution that will be proposed at the RNC's winter meeting in January. As noted in a NY Times blog:

Republican leaders are circulating a resolution listing 10 positions Republican candidates should support to demonstrate that they "espouse conservative principles and public policies" that are in opposition to "Obama's socialist agenda." According to the resolution, any Republican candidate who broke with the party on three or more of these issues - in votes cast, public statements made or answering a questionnaire - would be penalized by being denied party funds or the party endorsement.

Thus, the resolution is in the spirit of Ronald Reagan and notes "that someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent."

Here's the list:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

As noted in a story in NationalJournal.com, the resolution's sponsor, Indiana National Committeeman Jim Bopp, said the resolution became necessary after the NY-23 election.

"Having the RNC financially support liberal Republicans who are future party splitters is just very damaging to our ability to reclaim our conservative bona fides," Bopp told Hotline OnCall.

"Over the last several years, we've supported [ex-Sen. Lincoln] Chafee, then [Sen. Arlen] Specter, then [Assemb.] Dede [Scozzafava] in New York 23," Bopp added. "In each case, we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, and the result was severe damage to our credibility among conservatives, and in each case they switched parties, and/or endorsed the Democrat. We just need to have some standards so this won't happen again."

There is no doubt that the Republican establishment has a long way to go in getting back to conservative principles. But is this the right approach? Philip Klein, writing in the American Spectator blog, doesn't think so. Klein comments that "this sort of thing is exactly the wrong message for conservatives to send to possible candidates. Candidates who merely regurgitate a set of pre-selected ideas to conform with the diktats of the national party will not do anything to advance conservatism."

What conservatism needs is more thoughtful candidates who have a grounding in policy, are competent, have genuine accomplishments, and are able to persuade undecided voters that conservative ideas are superior. The RNC doesn't need to support more trained seals who can talk a big game to conservative audiences and check all the right boxes, without having the ability to deliver the goods even if they managed to get elected.

Klein is certainly right about one thing. Faced with the "politics of emotion" employed often by the Democrats, Republicans notoriously have a hard time describing conservative ideals. We certainly need candidates who can articulate the conservative message to undecided voters without resorting to "constituency" politics.

However, resolutions like this do have their place. It shows establishment leaders that there are people who care about conservative values... who know that conservatism is what Americans want... and who realize that the Republican Party must get back on track.

But the resolution is simply a bandage for a much larger problem. The resolution focuses on candidates, and as Klein noted, candidates can simply recite some conservative principles and promise to be good boys and girls. The real focus needs to be on the Republican establishment. Resolutions like the one proposed would not be necessary if the Republican Party, through its candidate recruitment efforts, actually sought out conservatives!

From voting records to speeches to community involvement, it is not too hard to know who the conservatives really are. But time and time again, the ones who seem to draw early favor from Washington elites are the moderates. We all see where that got us. Unless there is a change in thinking within the Republican leadership, resolutions like this will do no good.

This is why Conservatives should leave the RINOs to the GOP and bolt to the Constitution Party.  After all, the resolutions have already been adopted by the Constitutionalists!

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.