Should Scozzafava be the beginning of something bigger?

In Human Events today, I talk about the effort by conservatives to back Doug Hoffman over the liberal backed by the GOP establishment. And I wonder if this isn’t the beginning of something more important — a fight not only within the GOP but AGAINST the GOP and its current leadership. There is precedent for conservatives to turn against a party that lost its way and vote it out of power (even out of existence). More on “The Canada option” below.

“Canadians aren’t especially well known for innovative ideas in governance (government-run health care, anyone?):  Yet not that long ago, Canadian conservatives hit upon an idea that was quite creative, indeed even drastic.:  Fed up with a party that no longer represented their beliefs, they voted Canada’s version of the Republican Party, the oddly-named Progressive Conservatives, completely out of existence.

“The Progressive Conservatives had been a major force in Canada since the 1860s — coincidentally, right about the time the Republican Party was formed in the States. Over time the Progressive Conservatives became overrun by consultants fixated on short-term tactics over a long-term strategy. Party leaders who had grown comfortable with power were entangled in corruption scandals. The party developed a reputation for mismanagement and oversaw an economic disaster said to be on a par with the Great Depression. It experienced a steady drift away from conservative principles, in favor of an ever expansive federal government, until ultimately it reached an all-time low in public opinion polls. Any of that sound familiar?

“When parliamentary elections were called in 1993, Canadian conservatives, long turned off by the party, finally turned away altogether. When the election was over, the party that had ruled Canada off and on since the days of Lincoln lost every seat in parliament except for two, not even enough to qualify as a legitimate opposition group. The Progressive Conservatives, in effect, ceased to exist. In its place rose a new political organization — then called The Reform Party — that eventually became the dominant conservative force in the country. It’s doing quite well, thank you. Their current leader is now Canada’s prime minister.

“The parallels are not perfect, of course. But is it finally time for American conservatives to follow the neighbors’ example — and throw all of the bums out?

“Like Canada’s former ruling party, the Republicans are now being run by consultants and strategists focused on short-term political tactics — on vote margins and polling numbers rather than principles and ideas. While conservatives were pushed aside, these strategists reversed the party’s positions on illegal immigration, on climate change, on restraining spending, on a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq, on an accord with North Korea. The party of lower taxes, smaller government and a strong defense became incoherent — and unrecognizable. There is a reason why people self-identifying with the GOP reached an all-time low.”

I also take on the argument put forward by GOP strategists and the mainstream media that conservatives need to favor “electability” over “ideology.”

“We’ve heard this argument before, of course. Electability was the reason why we were all supposed to back Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania over an actual conservative challenging him in the GOP primary. (Senator Specter sure knows how to express his gratitude.) It’s why party leaders are backing a disappointing “moderate” like Charlie Crist over conservative Mario Rubio in Florida. I suppose that’s also why the more media-friendly Kay Bailey Hutchison, supported by GOP elites, is now trying to unseat the more conservative Governor Rick Perry in Texas. (Is the sitting governor of Texas suddenly unelectable?) And electability was the reason we were urged to support a Congressional candidate in New York State more liberal than the Democrat in the race, until conservatives stood up en masse and finally said, “Enough.”

Read more here.

Read more about how conservatives lost their way in Washington, D.C. and how we need to reclaim the party here.

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