Saturday, May 2, 2009

Howl of the RINOs and rebuilding the GOP

Howl of the RINOs is another good discussion on the GOP post-Specter:

At root, the real problem the Snowes, Frums and Whitmans of the world have is that social cons actually advocate and vote their principles on social issues. If the GOP is in danger of being seen as ideologically narrow and too identified with social issues, it is in no small part because its supposedly “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” wing generally has been socially liberal and not fiscally conservative. Having abandoned the core principles on which Republicans are supposed to agree, they would like the social cons to dump the remainder of their principles as well.
Another way to look at it is this way - consider these the 4 'wings' of the GOP:

Full-all-of-above Conservative
Reagan, Sen Coburn
Fiscal conservative
libertarians, country-club GOPers
Social Conservative
Huckabee, Christian Right

National security-conservative
Neo-conservatives, hawks

This view is a variant of the 'three-legged stool' model of the GOP - (fiscal, social, and national security).

Then outside of this model are the NON-conservatives: Those who wobble on national security by signing on to the Law of the Sea or bolting on appointing John Bolton; those who spent like drunken sailors; and those who are pro-choice, undercut the pro-family agenda or otherwise whine or chastise the Christian Right. The real problem for the Republican Party is that the brand has lost its power through the lack of adherence to ANY recognizable principle by many of those who wear the Republican label. We have called them RINOs (Republican in Name Only), and Sen Specter proved the label accurate by abandoning the party before it dumped him in the primary.

How is it a 'Big Tent' for the non-conservative, rump, small part of the party, the Meghan McCain types, to diss ANY part of the remaining 90% of the party that falls under one of the other conservative wings? How does that build up to a majority? It isn't and it doesn't. The non-conservatives got 'their guy' to be the Presidential nominee, the most maverick party contender since before Reagan. How did that work out?

To rebuild the GOP, we either put together that 3-legged stool that got knocked down, or decide the stool doesn't work anymore. The RINO/non-conservative wing wants to give up on it. Throw away some issues. The conservative response is simple - as Reagan put it in 1975: "Let them go their way." We will go our way.

The central core rebuilding task for the Republican party is to get back to limited-Government and fiscal conservative pro-liberty roots. The observation has been that the lack of fiscal conservatism has made the party less distinguishable and has served to raise social issue divisions as the main distinction between the parties, to the political detriment of the GOP:

Glenn Reynolds correctly noted that the social con agenda is, if anything, less strident than it was in the 1980s. Reader Neil Sorens responded that “the change in perception is that with fiscal conservatism abandoned, the only distinguishing characteristic of the Republican Party is now social conservatism.”
We should rebrand the GOP around the core fiscal conservative principles of limited Government and more liberty as the non-negotiable positions. If a Republican official can't shake addictions to higher taxes and more spending, then they are no better than tax-and-spend Democrats and should be shown the door. We should not throw overboard or under the bus any conservative wings, including the valid family and faith social conservative wing, and also the national security and national sovereignty wing. In short, update the Reagan formula for the 21st century, don't throw it out.

UPDATE: A further discussion of moderates versus the GOP conservative base here:

#7: “When do moderates EVER spend their time and money supporting conservatives?”
Moderate replies: “When their positions on issues we care about are more in line with our views, than those of the Democrats.”

As an individual voter, it’s your right. But in two cases, conservatives beat RINOs in primaries and then said RINO turned around and endorsed the Democrat. (eg Harris vs Gilcrest in MD-1). Thus, after a career of selling out on Republican votes when we need them most, we find these RINOs knife us in the back. It begs the question of why the grassroots should be loyal to such opportunists when the amount of loyalty THEY have is NIL. The point about Toomey supporting Specter is well-taken; conservatives have helped get moderates elected, but the game has worn thin when those same moderates FAILED to support us on key basic things, like tax cuts and spending limits.

The issue is with how the party defines itself. This is not about social conservatism in particular, as none of these RINOs are in ANY way conservative, and in Specter’s case are more liberal than mere moderate.

We lost in the Northeast because the Northeast candidates refused to run on any real core principloes: Not social issues, so that life/family etc. was no reason to vote GOP over Democrats; Iraq made the GOP lose credibility on national security; and big spending made fiscal/ economic conservative claims untenable - they may reclaim it soon due to Obama stupidities. These moderates were big spending folks who could not credibly claim to be for fiscal responsibility.

First, conservatives did NOT control all branches of Government at any time. The opportunist RINOs held the balance of Senate and House power when the GOP was in nominal control. Result: Higher spending, failure to make tax cuts permanent, too many earmarks, failure to deliver on agenda, and pushing of non-conservative items (like amnesty), etc. Bush may have been conservative on some items, but he failed to be a true fiscal conservative. That is one reason for the disrepair of the GOP brand.

In short, we lost in the Northeast because the GOP, by giving up on social issues and not performing on other issues, had NO ISSUES TO RUN ON!

Rick Moran is acting surprised that the conservative base is abandoning these RINOs and saying ‘good riddance’ even at a cost of a majority coalition. The conservative base are no more than battered housewives to the GOP elite - who even now are going to try to edge out Toomey as ‘too conservative’ for PA. The same elites who pulled behind Specter in 2004. Phooey. The fact is that when we were the (nominal) majority we didnt get the agenda we needed … so Mr Moran the result was doubly bad - we lost both the agenda AND we lost the majority.

You can only put humpty together on the backbone of a conservative unity platform. big-spending RINOs do more harm than good. I suggest Mr Moran gets back to basics. Reagan 1975, after the 1974 wipeout - “Let them go their way”:

UPDATE2: What is that core fiscal conservative platform? Here is simple definition of fiscal conservatism: A fiscal conservative believes in lower tax rates, less spending, and reduced Government intrusion into the economy.
1. Federal Government should spend no more than X% (IMHO 12%) of GDP. Until such a time as we get to that level, government spending should not grow faster than inflation (ie let the economic growth reduce burden of govt).
2. Tax system should be simpler, flatter, fairer, with goal to collect revenue at minimal burden to economy and people.
With our leviathan govt and huge sprawling tax code, we will never in our lifetimes be in a position where the ‘fiscal conservatives go too far’, so the whole idea of worrying about (fiscal) conservative extremists is … odd. I mean, really, do you think you will EVER wake up in the middle of the night, going “OMG, the Federal Govt isn’t spending enough."

UPDATE 3: Sen DeMint agrees with me and Redstate is there too - "Big tents need strong poles ... the organizing principle must be freedom":
To win back the trust of the American people, we must be a “big tent” party. But big tents need strong poles, and the strongest pole of our party — the organizing principle and the crucial alternative to the Democrats — must be freedom. The federal government is too big, takes too much of our money, and makes too many of our decisions. If Republicans can’t agree on that, elections are the least of our problems.

1 comment:

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