The RNC Doesn’t Need A 10-Point Checklist

One of the big problems with the Republican Party over the last few years is that it has gotten so mushy that people don’t know where it stands on the issues. As Dick Armey said when I interviewed him,

So the problem with the party regulars in Washington, who seem to be too much detached from real people, is they’ve got what I call this itty bitty schizophrenic concept of a Big Tent — which is we’re going to have a party where half of our candidates run like Ronald Reagan and the other half run like Barack Obama. All that does is confuse, frustrate and annoy the people whose votes they’d like to attract When the Republican Party acts like the Republican Party, they win. When they act like the Democratic Party, they lose.

Granted, not every Republican is going to agree on every issue and you’re also going to have some regional differences. However, we’ve gotten to the point where people feel like the Party has gotten so watered down that you can take a Democrat, stick an (R) beside of his name and everyone’s fine with it. For examples of that, see Arlen Specter, Colin Powell, Dede Scozzafava, Andrew Sullivan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meghan McCain, Michael Bloomberg, Jim Jeffords, Lincoln Chafee, etc., etc., etc. When you can’t be counted on to support your party on the most important issues or even endorse Republicans over Democrats, what good are you?

There is a solution to this problem that some people at the Republican National Committee have hit on. While I’m sympathetic to what they’re trying to do, I don’t think it’s the best way to handle the situation:

A group of conservative Republican leaders is proposing a solution to the internecine warfare over what the party should stand for: a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles like opposing government financing for abortion and, more generally, President Obama’s “socialist agenda.”

In what was being dubbed a purity test when it leaked out to reporters on Monday, the proposal would require the party to withhold campaign money and endorsements from candidates who do not adhere to at least seven principles on the checklist.

…The principles in the resolution include fairly basic proclamations, like “We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges,” along with trickier propositions that have bedeviled the party, like one opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants – a form of which President George W. Bush was accused of supporting.

The resolution also calls for “Republican solidarity in opposition to Obama’s socialist agenda,” specifically citing the climate change “cap and trade” proposal and “government-run health care.”

I can see the appeal here and don’t think this is a terrible idea, but there are a lot of flaws in it, too.

For example, what are the 10 issues and who picks them? Given the make-up of the people in power in the Republican Party, are we going to end up with endorsements of “compassionate conservatism” as part of the big 10 in five years?

Also, take one of the given examples:

We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges

Fred Thompson, who is undeniably a strong, principled conservative has come out against continuing to fight in Afghanistan because he doesn’t think Obama’s heart is in the fight. His feeling is that if Obama isn’t in it to win it, then we need to leave. Personally, I don’t agree with that stance. I believe that winning in Afghanistan is necessary and that it’s our job as conservatives to apply as much pressure as possible to Obama to get him to do the right thing, not to give him an easy out to lose. Now to me, even though we disagree, both of those are respectable conservative positions. So, would Fred Thompson be less conservative or less Republican than: I am: because we disagree on that particular issue?

And that’s even before we get into the word games politicians play. You don’t think a Republican can pledge to oppose higher taxes or amnesty, turn around and vote exactly the opposite way and then deny that: he did it? In other words, will we be happy with empty pledges from polticians that many of them will undeniably go back on later?

Moreover, once we get out of the primaries, we have who we have. For example, I don’t like Mike Castle up in Delaware — not one bit. He’s a RINO’s RINO. But, if our choice turns out to be between him and Joe Biden’s son Beau, I’d prefer to have Mike Castle in office — and he may need RNC help to get the job done.

What it all comes down to is that there is a time and place for these kind of ideological battles and it’s called the primaries. Keep the RNC, the NRSC, and the NRCC out of the primaries and these sort of issues will work themselves out. If Republicans in DC know they can’t count on Party help in the primaries, they’ll think twice before they cross the base. In other words, you don’t need a list; you just need to let Republican politicians rise and fall on their own merits in the primaries. That’ll lead to more good behavior in DC, less resentment from locals and the base, a more ideologically consistent party, and stronger candidates. After all, if a moderate candidate is so weak that: he can’t win a primary on: his own, as a rule,: he’s not that strong of a general election candidate either. That has been proven, time and time again, in elections that the Party has interfered in over the past few election cycles. More often than not, it blows up in the GOP’s face. If they just stop doing that, a lot of the issues we have today will start to take care of themselves without “a list.”

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