Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Scrapping the 11th Commandment-There has been a lot of rhetoric about how un-conservative the Republican Party is. This National Review piece venting at creeping liberalism got a lot of people talking. Kevin, Josh, Tactitus and lots of others have already chimed in on this one. Jeffery Collins' comments finally chrysalized my thoughts
I'm long since convinced that we have a problem. What concerns me is that I can't think of a viable solution and I haven't seen one proposed by anyone else. Should we withhold political and monetary support from the Republicans? Will that really gain us anything but Democratic victories? Should we switch parties? To what exactly? The Libertarian Party in America is a bad joke. The Reform party died a quick death. Where can we go.
To borrow from this morning's Edifier, the best thing to do is to stay right where you are. The Republican Party, as a whole, is a conservative party. If conservatives were to jump ship and form an American Alliance party, a la the small-c conservative Canadian Alliance party, it would look a lot like the current Republican party shed of it's liberal/moderate wing. The AAP would have to spend a lot of effort developing a new political infrastructure while allowing the RINOs and status-quoans the institutional backing of the existing GOP. If we look at Canada as a case study of starting a breakaway conservative party, the prospect isn't good. There's more of a conservative base in the US than there is in Canada, so the prospects of the AAP would be better. The AAP would be the party of choice in most of the South, the mountain West and rural areas in the Midwest. However, many Senate seats that the old Republican Party holds might shift Democratic when AAP senators lose 10-15% to a centrist Republican protest vote. For instance, let's look at Rick Santorum's reelection campaign as a AAP senator. He'd win 53-47 against a generic Democrat mano-a-mano, but might lose 43-40-17 if a centrist Republican screws things up. Losing a few seats every two years would give control of the Senate to the Democrats. Even if most of the GOP defected to the AAP, you'd still have quite a few moderate Republicans stay put. People like Voinovich, Dewine, Lugar, Warner, not to mention the northeastern RINOs et all would stay put and would have more power as the swing vote to organize the Senate. A split center-right vote will create enough Democratic pluralities to likely give the House over to the Democrats, or a Democratic-moderate Republican coalition at best. Thus, the answer isn't leaving the party, it's minimizing the number of RINOs elected to office. This will require scrapping the 11th Commandment of not speaking ill of a fellow Republican. We can group the problem children into three groups.
Moderates in Conservative Moderates in Swing Moderates in Liberal
States States States
Ben Nighthorse Campbell Mike DeWine Lincoln Chaffee
Elizabeth Dole Pete Domenici Norm Coleman
John McCain Mike Fitzpatrick Susan Collins
John Warner Arlen Specter Olympia Snowe
Kay Bailey Hutchenson George Voinovich
Lisa Murkowski
Richard Lugar
In the first group, the moderates in conservative states, you pull out all the stops and mount a serious primary challenge. A good conservative will win in these states and a primary win would be achievable. For instance, Virginia is much more conservative than John Warner and Alaska is more conservative than Ms. Murkowski. If the primary challenge fails, the moderate will go on to an easy win and we'll be no worse off. The second group are the moderates in swing states. By running a conservative in one of these states, we run the risk of losing one of the seats. In liberal-leaning Illinois, a conservative candidate would be vulnerable, but in Ohio, anyone with an R at the end of his name could beat Jerry Springer, given that he gets the nod next year. Depending on how moderate the senator is and how good the Democratic opposition is likely to be, the moderate may be harder to beat. If the race is dicey for the conservative, the moderate incumbent will pitch to party regulars and say "I can win easily; that Neanderthal running against me probably won't" and get more votes than he deserves. If conservative groups have limited funds, they might be better off focusing on the first group before coming here. The third group is almost a lost cause, with the possible exception of Minnesota. I don't see either Rhode Island or Maine electing a conservative unless Satan himself gets the Democratic nod. Rod Grams did win a Senate seat in Minnesota, but the planets would have to align just right for a conservative to win there (a big Independence or Green vote, maybe); you could make a case to slide Minnesota into the middle column. The strategy for conservatives should be to challenge moderates in primaries where there is a solid expectation of improving the Senate as a result. Some of these senators are nice people; Josh will likely rise to Richard Lugar's defense. However, politics is a contact sport. If done with a honorable and charitable spirit, a primary fight can be held without wounding the survivor beyond repair. Spector, McCain and Murkowski are the best targets for 2004, with Campbell and Hutchinson being worth going after as well. In the case of Specter, if Pat Toomey wins the primary, he can offset his conservatism with a populist message-"The Republican fat cats in Washington didn't want me to win. I'm not going there for the fat cats, I'm going there for the people of Pennsylvania and of the United States of America." Conservatives can win. There are a lot of places where primary challenges are feasible and needed.

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