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by Mary Kate Cary
Is a strict, with-us-or-against-us platform really the way to grow the GOP?
"Have you seen this?" A Democratic friend sent a link to a Christian Broadcasting Network interview of conservative Sen. Jim DeMint. Curious, I clicked.
Here's what he said: "I need some new Republicans, people who believe
in constitutional government, a balanced budget, and liberty, and so I'm
out across the country recruiting new Republicans who I think if they
get here will not only challenge the institutions of government but be
willing to even challenge the
Hmm. DeMint endorsed Doug Hoffman, the Conservative
candidate in New York's 23rd
Congressional District race, over Republican nominee
Dede Scozzafava. He's also endorsed conservative
So I looked at the code words. "Constitutional government." Most conservatives would say that means supporting originalist judges who don't legislate from the bench. It means following the framers' intentions. If that's what DeMint means, fine by me. And "balanced budget," that's pretty clear: fiscal responsibility and certainly less spending and lower deficits. Again, OK with me. Finally, "liberty." To some conservatives, liberty means a government that places individual rights over group rights; to others, one that values property rights in the face of confiscatory taxation; and still others believe it signals a government that defends free speech and the free movement of goods and people and ideas. Many would say it's one in which all citizens -- regardless of race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation -- are presumed innocent until proven guilty and have the same basic protections under the law. Probably everyone would agree that liberty means that we are all free to live the lives we choose, without government interference, unless doing so imposes on another's right to do the same.
I would bet most limited-government conservatives would agree with all that. So what's so outrageous about DeMint's policy prerequisites for "new Republicans"?
Or is the outrage due to the fact that he seems to be encouraging
Republican-on-Republican primary attacks? Certainly, the media jumped on
reports of a proposed
The actual content of the 10 planks is pretty mainstream. One has to agree with eight of them to qualify for funding, if the resolution passes in January. Republicans like me would have to agree with smaller government, lower deficits, and lower taxes; market-run healthcare reform; opposition to healthcare rationing and federal funding for abortions; opposition to cap-and-trade taxes; opposition to card check by labor unions; military-recommended surges in Iraq and Afghanistan; containment of North Korea and Iran; and the right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.
So far so good -- I qualify for funding! I flunked only two planks.
First, there's one that doesn't abide amnesty for immigrants. For a lot
of reasons, the
The second one I failed supports the Defense of Marriage Act, which
specifies that marriage must be between one man and one woman. Again, a
political mistake for the
Most Republicans like me would agree with DeMint that we need to grow the party -- maybe with people who can pass only 8 out of 10 planks of that purity test. But the vast majority of Republicans, I suspect, don't want a litmus test or bitter primary fights. We'd rather have a well-reasoned discussion about the limited-government, fiscally conservative ideas that unite us. That's why Bob McDonnell won the governor's race in Virginia and why Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has some of the highest approval ratings in the country. They stay away from those two planks that are more social.
Republicans like McDonnell and Daniels are appealing to voters who
view big government as a threat to our liberty and massive government
spending not only as dangerous to our children's futures but to our
national security. And those voters also view a strong military as the
best way to peace and security, for our families at home and our allies
abroad. Maybe the
I Survived the GOP Purity Test | Mary Kate Cary
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