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Measuring Up

I've been batting around the proposed "purity test" for Republicans being considered, and I've leaned back and forth on it. The plan is simple: put forth ten planks of what the Party thinks are important issues, and inform would-be elected officials that if they want support from the national party, they better sign on to at least eight of them. It's based on a famous line from Ronald Reagan -- "someone who agrees with me eighty percent of the time is my friend."

The ten points are as follows:

(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like [President Barack] Obama's "stimulus" bill;

(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership; and be further

RESOLVED, that a candidate who disagrees with three or more of the above stated policy position [sic] of the Republican National Committee, as identified by voting record, public statements and/or signed questionnaire of the candidate, shall not be eligible for financial support by the Republican National Committee.

It's a remarkable document. There are a few things that stick out. to me. For one, I don't like how several of them are phrased as "we support x by opposing Obama on y." I don't like that.

For another, I was astonished by the mention of abortion. The official GOP position has been staunchly pro-life for decades. Here, all they're asking of their candidates is to oppose federal funding for it.

On the whole, it needs some fine-tuning, but it's workable. Hell, I could probably go along with seven or eight of them -- they smack of just plain common sense to me.

That common sense has to be spelled out like this, though, says something sad about our current political state.

There are those who are calling it a "purity test" or a "litmus test" and using it to denigrate Republicans. I find that rather amusing -- if such tests are so bad, what do such learned folks have to say about ideological crucibles like this one? With that one, it isn't whether or not you're eligible for national assistance in your political race, but whether or not you can be a teacher or not.

At least that one's written down. The Democrats have their own -- but they don't write it down anywhere, so you can never be sure just what is a capital offense or not to the Democratic hierarchy. And it keeps changing. Hell, you can't even always count on who's setting the rules, let alone what the rules are.

Abortion is the most reliable issue there. If you're a Democrat, you better be pro-choice. No, that's not enough. You better be fiercely opposed to any restrictions whatsoever on abortion, and be in favor of the federal government paying for abortions if the unmother can't swing it. Otherwise, you're just another quasi-cancerous growth to be scraped off off the donkey's uterus.

During most of the Bush administration, not opposing the Iraq War was heresy. It was what got Joe Lieberman tossed out of the party.

Another one is "card check." Under the Orwellian-named "Employee Free Choice Act," workers deciding on whether or not to unionize would no longer have a mandatory secret ballot election -- they could "choose" to simply sign a card (free of any intimidation, of course -- right, Guido?) to pledge their support for the union (and the continuation of their kneecaps as a single bone). Well, Democrats who express concerns about this plan are hearing that they're in trouble.

So a few Republicans think it's a good idea to put together a list of principles, and want the national party to enforce them -- with the carrot of national support, and no stick. I think the ones they've put together need some tweaking, but it's a good step.


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Comments (16)

Newt's Contract With Americ... (Below threshold)
GianiD:

Newt's Contract With America had an almost immediate positive impact on the US. This could be the 1st step towards yet another positive impact, after 3 yrs of Reid-Pelosi F'ing things up.

I agree that opposing the D... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [reitred]:

I agree that opposing the Democrats is NOT a platform for people to lock on to. I have no problem with opposing them as stated above, but there must be a wider range of issues that can be used as a "test" of sorts.

In general I agree with all of them, however move #10 up where it belongs to #2 and drop #8 entirely. We want Fiscal Conservatives who are Socially Tolerant, if we try to run on Social Conservatism we will fail. That does not mean that you can not be a SoCon personally, just don't let that influence your campaign or the way you govern.

Things like Homosexual Unions and Abortion need to be left to the states not the fed. That said being against Federal dollars going to pay for Abortion is actually a good stance. That way you can be pro choice if you want but agree that forcing tax payers to foot the bill is wrong.

Smaller government, less taxes, LESS SPENDING as well, Gun rights...constitutional law instead of nuance and interpretation. That should be easy enough to explain to people with needing 10 points like this.

ps: http://www.fairtax.org
Anyone for this gets my vote

I've got little trouble wit... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

I've got little trouble with any of those, including the abortion provision. I don't like abortion, think it's a damn tragedy - but I don't believe I can decide what's right for someone else on that aspect and as a correlary I don't believe it ought to be paid for by anyone but the parties affected by it. You want an abortion? Go right ahead - but don't dip into MY wallet to pay for it.

I don't consider myself a Republican - or a Democrat. I throw away their surveys equally - especially when I get to the page with the 'how much can you donate' on it. Conservative? On some things. Liberal? On other things. Don't label me and think I'll abide by YOUR label - I'll think for myself, thank you.

I'll vote for who I think can best do the job, after looking into the backgrounds as far as I can. Thankfully, the internet makes it much easier to do.

But that's an interesting list, Jay. Gives me something to think about - but I'll still toss the donation requests, from BOTH parties.

JustRuss -I've loo... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

JustRuss -

I've looked at the FairTax stuff for a few years now - it's a great idea and likely would be one hell of a boost to the economy.

It also takes away a LOT of control from Washington. They'll mostly fight it tooth and nail - no matter how much good it would do the country. Some support it - but nowhere near enough, unfortunately.

This is a good document. I... (Below threshold)
Edward Sisson Author Profile Page:

This is a good document. I support all ten.

I disagree with much of wha... (Below threshold)
James H:

I disagree with much of what this document states (surprise, surprise!)

But setting aside my own ideological biases, I think this document is tactical rather than strategic. I don't discern a lot of grand vision here, but rather an obsession with the picayune issues of the day. And as Jay Tea points out, it comes across as "Obama supports X, so we'll oppose it."

I've noodled with it a bit, and here's what I've come up with. These aren't necessarily views I hold, but rather principles that the GOP could embrace as part of a strategic, rather than tactical, approach to building a political coalition. I tried to make them parallel to the statements in the document referenced above.

  1. We support a smaller, fiscally responsible federal government that taxes citizens as little as possible and keeps its debt as small as possible.
  2. In all sectors, and wherever possible, we support private-market systems that preserve individuals' control over their lives, their health, their property, and their pursuit of happiness.
  3. We support energy reforms that empower energy producers to provice the best possible service to their customers, and that empower individuals to decide for themselves how best to meet their energy needs.
  4. We support individual workers' right to join a union, or choose not to do so, and to bargain with their employers on an equal basis.
  5. We support extending the American Dream to all individuals who enter this country legally, and to empowering them to pursue success wherever they might find it.
  6. We support military policies that give our soldiers the best tools to carry out their mission and that assure our soldiers of their countrymen's support.
  7. We support a foreign policy of containment and neutralization that preserves America's security by halting the spread of nuclear weapons to outlaw regimes.
  8. We support traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
  9. We support policies that reduce the number of abortions and do not encourage or subsidise abortion in any way.
  10. We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.
This is all well and good b... (Below threshold)
Hank:

This is all well and good but the repubs need to answer why they turned into dems when they last gained control of congress and what they'll do differently now.

Face it, the slightest corruption will get non-stop MSM coverage, unlike all the dem corruption going on now. Fidelity would be a plus. Earmarks need to be addressed also. They won't get a free ride ala Murtha.
They also need extremely clean backgrounds. No repub tax cheats will get the Rangel treatment.

And a general philosophy about smaller govt is fine but they also need a message to attract the mommy-state voters. Compassionate conservatism was a reasonable attempt but that has expired.

Maybe they should stress common-sense.
That's sorely lacking in democrat circles these days.

james, that's a seriously g... (Below threshold)
ke_future:

james, that's a seriously good improvement on the list. i like the fact that they are all "support" statements. also that when you read them you get the underlying reason for them.

i could support at least 8 of them.

you said they aren't necessarily views you hold. i'm curious how many of them you would agree with?

James H:Do you act... (Below threshold)
JustRuss IT1(SW) USN [retired]:

James H:

Do you actually believe in what you spelled out? Would you vote for someone who does?

Because if you actually followed that list I would vote for you.

Very well reasoned and very well done, even if you don't agree with the points made. Bravo!

This is more for Republican... (Below threshold)
Knightbrigade:

This is more for Republican Party direction,
not that a little public definition wouldn't hurt. There is a divide between party elite/Democrat light vs the more Consevative principled Republicans.

Most important is I agree that Obama should ABSOLUTELY NOT be named in any document that pertains to Conservative principles and stucture. Conservative Republicans just need to define what WE stand for, then ACT by those same principles.

The goal besides party direction would also be to try and bring together:
(1) FISCAL Conservatives - limited and small Government, Free markets.
(2) Strong National Defense Conservatives
(3) Social Conservatives - Traditional Values.

Instead of the current party struggle, one would support whatever you like. Just don't try to CHANGE the conservative party principles you don't like to suit YOUR liberal/progressive individual views.

The wave is coming regardless, but if Conservative Republicans can present a SIMPLE structure to America....
WHOA BABY!!!! Could be HISTORY!!

The list strikes me as a ba... (Below threshold)
Arizona CJ:

The list strikes me as a bad idea as written.

First, I agree, framing things as being about Obama is a bad idea. Say it a different way and you're fine.

The big grievance I have is the social issues. The Contract with America was a success in part because there wasn't any mention of social issues. I'm a libertarian on social issues, so their inclusion makes me less, not more, inclined to vote R.

Drop the social issue baggage (gays and abortion) from documents like this, and you can retake the house. Focus on social issues, and a lot of libertarian-minded folks like myself are likely to stay home.

I happen to strongly oppose federal funding for abortion, but I think making abortion an issue in a "checklist" or "litmus test" is a bad idea, strategically.

Including DOMA is an even worse idea. Personally, I oppose gay marriage AND straight marriage as government-sanctioned entities; I loathe the democrats because they push ever-more-intrusive government, so better to get the government out of a place it has no business being. I want a smaller, less-meddlesome government, not "social conservatives" pushing democrat-style meddling. If faced with that choice, I'll say to hell with it and stay home. Given the utter disaster the Dems are making, worrying that gays might marry is silly and absurd in the extreme. It brings to mind re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic...

My strongest feeling, though, is the Republicans MUST acknowledge how they utterly screwed up on fiscal responsibility when they were in power. That was horrendous and a betrayal of their own claimed ideals, and is the biggest part of why I marched down to the voting booth in 2006 in order to write in "none of the above".

I agree with #7 above, why ... (Below threshold)
Deke:

I agree with #7 above, why a new Contract, or pledge list, or whatever you want to call it? Were still getting the same ole guys that acted just like Democrats last time they were in power. John "Tanning Booth" Boehner, Olympia "I'm a closet Socialist" Snowe, John "I wont fight, but Hey I'm a Maverick" McCain. Even if they gain power they will cater to these sic., "moderates", and once again worry more about maintaining power than worry about the long term health of America.

Until the Republican party changes leadership, shows some backbone and leads by example and from a position of unashamed conservatism, then I will def not support them no matter how many lists they make.

Statements of policy and li... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

Statements of policy and lists of principles serve some purpose, I am sure - and I'm equally sure the GOP is eternally grateful for all the input from non-Republicans on the issue. Folks, they send out opinion surveys with their fund solicitations, seeking urgently your opinions. When the return envelopes come in, the opinion surveys are discarded and the checks deposited. If they don't care what the donors think, what makes you special?

Newt and the Class of '94 actually enacted 7 or 8 of the 10 points of the Contract With America. The problem was, after that, they fell into the cauldron of Washington power - business as usual, but now our lobbyists get more goodies then their lobbyists, our members get more earmarks than their members.

This is the legacy of assimilation the Republicans must overcome. Deficits, new entitlements, and cuts in defense do not become moral because it is our side pushing them through.

Ideologically it all fits b... (Below threshold)
Meiji_man:

Ideologically it all fits but number 8. Drop that and and a line about supporting states rights over the federal government and you got a winner.

JA:" Folks, they send out o... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

JA:" Folks, they send out opinion surveys with their fund solicitations, seeking urgently your opinions. When the return envelopes come in, the opinion surveys are discarded and the checks deposited. "

Heh. I have ALWAYS thrown those away; until this year. In the last year I filled out 2 of those, enclosed no payment, and wrote in the 'donation' section 'you get no more money from me until you start being the party of smaller govt again'.

Yes, it was a useless exercise, but I felt better for a few minutes.

Ronald Reagan would have be... (Below threshold)
jim x:

Ronald Reagan would have been booted out of the GOP according to the list, btw.

Just saying.




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