Monday, November 8, 2010

The Scourge Of Republican Purity Activists

Well that didn't take long: fresh off a republican win that left everyone grasping for metaphors we find some conservatives trying to re-argue lost causes and threatening current and future successes with a rigid purity test that few could pass and for which they have no standing to impose on the rest of us.

MC speaks primarily of Dan Riehl and Mark Levin but, we are sure, there are others. Unpleasant, nasty people as people, Riehl and Levin have taken it upon themselves to lecture the rest of us about what can or cannot constitute an appropriate choice in any given republican primary. They do so in strident, repulsive and frequently ad hominem ways. Given less to reason than outrage, they focus on the dreadful Christine O'Donnell and roundly condemn anyone who thought Mike Castle would be the better candidate for the general election. There is, really, no question about this but the purity activists insist that this isn't true. In fact, some of them go so far as to say her loss is a win. MC walks away from discussions where down is argued strenuously as really being up. We're not fond of Kool-Aid on either side of the political aisle.

The problem is not that republicans have different ideas as to whom to endorse at a convention or vote for in a contested primary. It's that one small group takes unto itself anathema-like powers as to those with whom they disagree. MC thinks this is a threat to future GOP successes and shows the shallowness of political thoughtfulness on their part. The purity activists here tend to (that dreaded word) bully those who disagree with them. But being nasty politically merely fits in with their personalities. Republicans who want to (continue to) win simply have to be fearless and either ignore these types or push back. We're doing the latter at this point, no doubt to be followed by the former. These people are, after all, mostly marginal. The goal is to keep them that way.

Idiotically, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has come under fire from these, well, idiots. His crime was to tell David Gregory on Meet the Press that Delaware was a lost senate opportunity. Yes, MC wishes Mike Castle was more conservative. In a fit of purity, Delaware put up the flaky Christine O'Donnell and the results were a classic foregone conclusion. And no--why should we have to say it?--MC doesn't think she deserved the media ridicule and piling on that she received. But Delaware isn't a Tea Party state. Is it apostasy to say so? Apparently to some but we think they point toward permanent minority status. No thank you.

MC is a big admirer and supporter of the Tea Party movement. Being judicious in running such candidates doesn't contradict that support. In fact, MC thinks it showcases our understanding of what has brought it to prominence. Slap-dash anywhere and everywhere foisting of those kind of candidates is simply unwise if not ignorant. The smugness of Riehl and Levin, to say nothing of those like them, is suffocating. By themselves, they do precious little to actually help republican candidates win. Contrast this with Governor Christie criss-crossing the nation in support of all kinds of republican candidates.

MC wants republicans to be a durable, lasting governing party which, we believe, best represents the views and values of the American people when we don't stray from who we say we are. The purity activists fancy themselves guardians of the cause but, in fact, they are the leading edge of an ideological position which, if allowed to become preeminent, assures our defeat.


Anonymous said...

Like you, I have long objected to those who believe that NOT voting for a "less than pure" conservative somehow creates a "win" for the conservative cause. It doesn't, of course, because by that failure of accommodation you get someone actively hostile to the conservative cause placed in a position of power.

There are a few things I do not understand, however, about your very sensible agreement with me. :-) The first being that I don't see any solution. Tom Emmer, for example, got the most votes for endorsement at the state GOP convention. Assuming he was the wrong choice by your definition, how would you have obtained your (and my) preferred outcome?

Second, ignoring these purists who would not have voted for Marty Seifert in the general election, what would have been different, had he been the nominee?

Finally, what difference does it make whom the GOP nominated, when the opponent is Mark Dayton, a one-man war against rational thought? ANYBODY should be able to beat Mark Dayton. So why didn't it happen? You can't blame the "purity people" for not voting for him.

J. Ewing

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

Mr. Ewing, as always, raises good questions. However, we are going to defer answering them as this latest post was designed to take a wider look at the purity people; hence our focus on O'Donnell, Christie, Levin & Riehl.

Perhaps we should have an open thread comment after the recount for readers to air their views about the important issues he raises. MC doesn't pretend to have all the answers and the RPM might be well served to have a robust discussion sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dayton was only my example in this case, being the most immediately available experience. My fundamental argument is that O'Donnell should have easily beat that "bearded socialist" Coons, and Angle should have wiped the floor with that idiot-in-chief Harry Reid. So why didn't it happen? I can understand why you would be upset with the "purity people" for getting one of their own nominated (in a fair and open election process) but I don't see how you blame them for losing to certifiable low-lifes, crackpots, and other menaces to society.

J. Ewing

BTW, if you can get that conversation with the MNGOP started, I would count it a privilege to be invited.

Malzacher/Gilmore said...

We're not blaming anyone per se; we're trying to say that there's nothing wrong with MC and others pointing out that running too conservative a candidate in areas not likely to support them isn't treason. It's called "fit" and it's not new in political thinking.

And we certainly don't agree that Reid and Coons are "certifiable low-lifes, crackpots, and other menaces to society." That type of thinking--dare we say it?--fools people into thinking O'Donnell could win in DE.

Mr. Ewing indicts his own argument. Let's take his premise and recast it: Dayton should have been soundly beaten. Yet he has won (he has). What does that say about our candidate? This is the discussion people don't want to have. If so, that's fine. But then they can't talk about the other half of the discussion. It's both or nothing in our view.

We'd be delighted to have Mr. Ewing attend the conversation. MC might set it up for sometime in January after we've all enjoyed the holidays and normal life.

Anonymous said...

I'm still thinking you have something of a circular argument, here. Tom Emmer couldn't win because Mark Dayton did? Being "too conservative" is a good excuse for the result, but only after the fact, and ONLY if you believe there can be such a thing as "too conservative" in a candidate that is to the left of Genghis Khan.

IMHO, you need some other reason to explain why a totally unqualified leftist like Coons or Reid can beat someone at least as qualified but conservative. I'm not buying the notion that there are places in the country too stupid to vote sensibly. And if you believe that somehow our candidate selection process is flawed, producing these "too-conservative" candidates, then explain how these "too-liberal" Democrats, selected by the same (and perhaps even more flawed) process, manage to win?

J. Ewing

I'll look forward to the conversation.

Jamie J. Delton said...

In Minnesota Dems have for years won the political contest of establishing that policy (any proposed bill), is purely for the common good, or purely for their agenda, for their party members. If you can do that, the other party at least does not usually persist in effective criticism. Republicans need to win more in this context and work TEA party principles in. I hope everyone knows about the Minnesota Internet Tax Freedom Act on on which I will post soon. It is a "pure" sales tax reform, not just tinkering around trying to look smart and losing the clothes industry like Horner would have us do.
Jamie Delton

MikeWBL said...

J. Ewing: Perhaps you forgot that
1) MN is a 55% DFL and 45% Republican state. This state voted for Humphrey, Mondale & Carter! Emmer was the perfect candidate for a 60% Republican state.
2) The polls at state convention time clearly showed that Seifert would beat Dayton and Emmer would lose to Dayton. The purists did not care about win-ability.