Ideological Purity

Dick Cheney thinks it is a mistake for Republicans to try to be more moderate.

“I think it would be a mistake for us to moderate,” Cheney said. “This is about fundamental beliefs and values and ideas … what the role of government should be in our society, and our commitment to the Constitution and constitutional principles. You know, when you add all those things up, the idea that we ought to moderate basically means we ought to fundamentally change our philosophy. I for one am not prepared to do that, and I think most of us aren’t. Most Republicans have a pretty good idea of values, and aren’t eager to have someone come along and say, ‘Well, the only way you can win is if you start to act more like a Democrat.'”

Blogsister Daphne brings us a disturbing tale of true intolerance in one particular Republican considered to be most-pure.

It’s no wonder less than 25% of the public identifies as Republican when we’ve elevated Joe The Plumber as a conservative poster boy. I’m sure he’s an honest, decent guy, but give me a break, he doesn’t exactly sell conservative philosophy eloquently to anyone with an IQ above 60. When Joe speaks, I cringe.

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People don’t understand the dictionary–it’s called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It’s not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we’re supposed to do–what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we’re supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. I’ve had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children. [emphasis Daphne’s]

And Neo-Neocon seems to me to flat-out disagree with the former Vice President, making her preference for quantity over quality abundantly clear.

So, what’s behind the conservatives’ targeting of RINOs, when they know that the states from which RINOs come are likely to elect Democrats instead? [Olympia] Snowe’s Maine, for example, is now a solidly blue state, and to deny this is to deny reality.

I don’t think that conservatives really have a death wish for the Republican Party. It’s that the extreme wings of either party are just that: extreme. As such, they tend to be inherently less practical, less willing to compromise, and more inclined towards ideological purity and purges.

I think NN is correct in her observations, but also that this is a good thing. If Sen. Snowe wants to go the way of Specter, then good riddance. There is a deeper issue here than simply winning this-year’s-election, an objective in which Republicans never enjoyed winners’-money throughout the entirety of last year. They were always fighting a losing battle on this. The year 2008 was a liberal-year, period, full-stop.

But this deeper issue, of which I speak, is being a decent and reliable representative for your constituency and that constituency’s concerns. And the criteria is unfulfilled if your party only does this so long as it’s accepted by a popular vote. Loyalty endures throughout waxing and waning popularity, or else it is nothing. Let’s put it this way: When you go off into a closed-room meeting with someone else who’s going to try to change you, your constituency understands you will continue to fight for their interests, even though they personally can’t be in there to make sure you do. That is the kind of loyalty I’m talking about.

It’s a pretty big concern. Neither of the major political parties have that quality right now. The democrats got past it last year by being hip and edgy and cool…which works out pretty well when the race is a sprint and not a marathon. But who could be relied-upon? Nobody. Certainly not the guy who won the elections. The cuteness-contest came to decide things not because one among the candidates had a great deal to offer there (although that was part of it)…but rather, because it was a tie-breaker. All superior methods by which the electorate could’ve decided the election, had been tried, and the results were inconclusive. Nobody had this quality of resilience and reliability of which I speak.

And, let us not forget: Losing that quality is exactly what cost the Republicans power in the years previous. That’s how they lost Congress two years ago. You say “I’m a Republican!!” — and what, exactly, do I know about you? Do I know you’re going to insist on punishment for the kid who threw the first punch in a fight, instead of the other kid who threw the last one? Do I know you’ll stand up for Israel, protect my right to keep and bear arms from being infringed in any way, fight MoveOnDotOrg’s network “neutrality” schemes? Fight to make sure kiddy-diddlers are kept in prison for their entire lives? To bring back the electric chair and fry up the murderers extra crispy? Cut my taxes? Whittle government down to size, appoint some judges that will award child custody to the father when it makes sense to do so, consign affirmative action to the ash bin of history where it belongs?

No. No no no. No. No. No. No, no and no.

This is what blogger friend Phil meant, I think, when he eschewed the notion that the Republican party needs to broaden its base, and instead insisted it needs to deepen it. I don’t know what people mean when they call themselves Republican, and neither do you. About all you can discern from the willing personal association with that word, now, is that the speaker must be a glutton for punishment. Nothing else.

The confusion between extremism and moderation is the fatal mistake, here, I think. Neo-Neocon has fallen for it, and she’s not the only one. This is what needs to be straightened out.

Take, for example, Joe’s ugly thoughts about homosexuals. That seems pretty extreme, and I don’t agree with it at all. Sexual preference is sexual preference, nothing more; to associate it with perversion, or likelihood of perversion, is discriminatory, just-plain-wrong, and not just a little bit treacherous. Lots of straight folks, it should be unnecessary to point out, have been dangerous perverts.

And yet — what is truly extreme here? Joe’s attitude that his children should never be around homosexuals?

Or some centralized authoritarian government program, hard (regulatory) or soft (“education”), to force Joe to immerse his children in a homosexual fellowship?

My point is: Stop it with this “proving” that Republicans are just as tolerant as, or more tolerant than, democrats. They are, of course. I’ve yet to hear a major candidate for President on the Republican side intone that those edgy urban liberal people are bitter and clinging to their hybrids and hallucinogens. I’ve yet to see a conservative condemn some proposed program just because it would be too helpful to people of color and females, the way liberals condemn things just because they fail to achieve sufficient unpleasantness or abuse toward whites and males.

Just stop proving it.

Because when both sides claim to be decent, and both sides show some evidence that they do in fact contain indecent people in their midsts; when both sides claim to represent people, but neither side can be relied-upon to carry a simple message to Washington and have it codified into our laws; then it becomes a contest to see which side is cuter.

Which is what happened six months ago.

And Republicans are never going to win that. Look at the people saying Republicans are down for the count, never going to get up off the mat ever again. Within the tiny world those pundits live in, they’re right. Because they think style is all that matters. It is not going to be stylish, any time in the next twenty years or more, to be conservative. Not gonna happen.

But it could very easily make a great deal more sense. And we don’t have to wait twenty years for that to matter. Just be honest, sincere, reliable and consistent. Tell us what is important to you, and convince us that when you meet with other people who recoil from it, you’ll continue to defend it. Even when they argue against it and say asinine stupid things like “I’m the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks.” Even when those who are hostile to it, start to use blackmail. And then bribery. Start out with sensible, logical positions like…”She shouldn’t get custody when she’s a cokehead, just because she happens to have a vagina.” Or…”What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ is hard for you to understand?” Or…”If your state doesn’t recognize gay marriage, and you’re gay, and you want to be married, then MOVE.” Or…”If you’re going to let innocent people die just so you don’t have to bring discomfort to a brutal savage murderer, I see nothing morally superior about that decision.”

And then stand firm. The nation is hungry for that — the entire nation, not just half of it. That’s all that’s needed.

Cross-posted at House of Eratosthenes.

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