Put Me in the No Camp on the Purity Test

I typically see eye to eye with RNC Committeeman Jim Bopp, but we are going to have to agree to disagree on a proposed resolution to be debated at the RNC’s Winter meeting. The media is calling it a “purity test” for Republicans. In essence, candidates would be presented with a list of vaguely worded issues and the RNC would be asked to withhold money from any candidate that disagreed with more than two.Rome long ago stopped selling indulgences, but conservatives keep right on selling them. Look, for example, at NY-23. The moment Dede Scozzafava signed ATR’s no new tax pledge, she was absolved of all her sins, including voting for 198 tax increases in the New York legislature.Therein lies the inherent problem with candidates signing off on well meaning pablum — there are no teeth and the party will not serve as its own enforcer.While I applaud the desire of conservative RNC members to try to put the train back on the tracks, I am afraid this will do what the ATR pledge did in Scozzafava’s case — give a lot of candidates cover to pretend to be conservative. People are naturally inclined to short circuit educational processes. People will look at this list to see if a candidate signed off on the issues. If the candidate did, well by God they must be conservative — never mind their voting record or prior statements. After all, only a week before Scozzafava signed the ATR pledge she was bashing Hoffman for having signed it. Never mind though, all was forgiven once Scozzafava signed it too.Conservatives in the RNC, however well meaning they may be, risk giving liberal candidates easy opportunities to get conservative endorsements simply by checking the box without ever meaning it.Compare this to the Contract With America in 1994. That document had ten items that were substantive policy positions heavily poll tested and vetted to make sure something like 70% of the American public agreed with each one. Each statement was popular and therefore did not put candidates in awkward positions with voters, as some of the presently suggested issues do. And while there was no enforcement mechanism there either, there did not have to be — every issue was poll tested, mother approved, and voter supported.Not so with this. And because this, unlike the Contract With America, might affect funding and seals of approval in the primary process, this becomes far more troublesome.I would encourage the conservative members of the RNC to let conservatives sort out who is and is not a conservative, as opposed to letting any Dede sign up with no intention of ever living up to the pledge. Besides, the Republican Platform specifically says the GOP is opposed to government bailouts of industry, something the GOP, with a Republican President, pushed through Congress in 2008. If the GOP cannot live up to its own platform adopted at a national convention, it sure as heck won’t live up to any pledge put forward by a group of RNC committeemen.Actions are far more important than words. We should leave it at that.