Thinking Republicans need not apply

There’s a great editorial by Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post on the GOP’s new Purity Test. Haven’t heard of this yet? It’s rather classic because the idea is to force everyone into the mold of Ronald Reagan (the last true GOP hero – notice they skip the Bushes entirely). A GOP candidate must be able to prove he/she supports 8 of these 10 principals. (Ironically, of course, no matter HOW generously you try to apply those principals to Reagan, he wouldn’t pass!!)

(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 healthcare;
(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;

From Parker’s article is a statement by the creator of the list:

James Bopp Jr., chief sponsor of the resolution and a committee member from Indiana, has said that “the problem is that many conservatives have lost trust in the conservative credentials of the Republican Party.”

Makes sense to me. Certainly there is a pretty big tug of war going on to redefine the party message. A particularly vocal right wing of the movement is trying to pull the party rightward which created a bit of a mess in the NY23 congressional race resulting in a very rare Democratic victory in that district. As a result the party leaders are trying to solidify the splintering factions behind one list of principals – something the GOP is normally razor sharp at doing. Usually it’s the Democrats running around like a herd of cats trying to represent too many tents 🙂 The goal is normally to pick up the independents and undecideds. However, from the start I saw this the same way Parker does – isn’t this too limiting? If the GOP wants to increase it’s numbers again doesn’t it HAVE to hang out somewhat in the middle on some issues just as the Dems did? This list seems too simplistic to my eyes & I completely agree with this statement from the article:

The resolutions aren’t so much statements of principle as dogmatic responses to complex issues that may, occasionally, require more than a Sharpie check in a little square.

Exactly! Is the ONLY black or white here? No grays? No nuance? No examples of situation decision making vs applying a hard and fast rule 100% of the time? This is the kind of absolute thinking that drove me away from the GOP 10 years ago! Look at rule #6 – there is a pre-conceived assumption built in that the ONLY way to victory is through use of more troops. Seriously? Odd, given that as soon as Obama was sworn in, certain conservative pundits who previously supported all manner of troop use in Iraq were suddenly calling for pulling out. Even as the President has conducted meetings to decide how to define a previously undefined strategy in Afghanistan, the calls to pull out of there have come from the left AND the right! So how do you support that rule then?

Whatever the intent of the authors, the message is clear: Thinking people need not apply.

Pretty much.


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