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.