Who’s Really Getting Purged From the GOP? Conservatives or Moderates?


One of the notes that we hear trumpeted over and over again is that conservatives want to purge moderates from the Republican Party. Why, all the members of the Republican Party, in every state and district, have to be as conservative as Rush Limbaugh or else they have to go! This has been repeated so often that it has become a cliche — but, how true is it?

There are a few people who say that we need to “get rid of all the RINOs” in the GOP. Occasionally, a high profile conservative will even join them — usually after some horrific betrayal on a crucial issue, but that’s far from typical. The vast majority of conservatives understand that in certain states and districts, they’re not going to get their ideal candidate and they accept it.

So, is it true that conservatives want to purge moderates from the GOP? No, in fact if you said exactly the opposite, it would be closer to the truth.

Let’s talk about the party’s high profile “moderates” — you know, the Republicans who love to run to liberal news outlets. They’re the ones incessantly complaining about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin — when they’re not trashing the Republican Party and simultaneously bemoaning the fact that they’re not appreciated by conservatives.

Well, here’s a dose of political reality 101: Unlike the Democratic Party, which is more roughly split between moderates and liberals, the Republican Party is mostly conservative. Conservatives provide most of the money, energy, intellectual firepower, and votes for the party.

That’s not to say moderates aren’t wanted or are unimportant — that’s not the case — but it should be acknowledged that their contributions to the GOP are relatively small compared to those of conservatives in every area.

Yet, what do we often hear from self-proclaimed representatives of moderates? They say that the GOP needs to forget about fiscal conservatism or shove social conservatives to the side. Is that not every bit as dumb — and then some — as saying the GOP needs to purge moderates from its ranks? If you say “no,” then explain what armies of voters the GOP will be able to tap into to replace the social and/or fiscal conservatives?

Moreover, on issues of grave importance to conservatives, like illegal immigration and balancing the budget, GOP moderates insist on forcing the party to pursue policies that are unpopular with the general public and anathema to the base. There’s usually not even an attempt made to meet conservatives halfway, by say pushing security first on illegal immigration or freezing spending. Instead the message to conservatives on these core issues over the past few years has been, “Like it or lump it; we don’t care — because who else are you going to vote for?”

Then there’s the presidential nominations process. The first few contests are open primaries, which means that moderate candidates have a big edge over conservatives. Why should conservatives be asked to put up with a system that puts the candidates that best represent them at a tremendous disadvantage?

The same question could be asked of the Republican National Committee, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and National Republican Congressional Committee. How can these organizations build huge warchests on the backs of conservatives and then turn right around and sabotage conservative candidates in primaries without a second thought? Keep in mind that conservatives haven’t said, “We’re a conservative party; so we want the Republican Party to support conservatives over moderates in primaries.” Instead, what we’ve had are conservatives candidates cut off at the knees, again and again, in order to help moderates, some of whom have since repaid the favor by changing parties or endorsing liberal Democrats over conservatives.

Yes, the GOP needs both conservatives and moderates to win elections. Moreover, neither conservatives nor moderates can reasonably expect to get what they want all of the time. Additionally, since the GOP has far less seats than the Democrats in DC, we need to bring in more moderates, not drive them out of power. However, the best way to draw in more independents is not to be a spineless poll-driven party of men without chests, in an attempt to appeal to moderates — but to be a principled party that stands up for honest conservative governance. If we stand up for fiscal conservatism, traditional values, law and order, a strong defense — and fight corruption and craft conservative free market solutions to the problems the American people are facing today — the GOP can create a coalition of conservatives and moderates that the Democrats can’t match.

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