We can’t stand RINO Arlen Spector. He’s not a Republican no matter what his name plate says. Most of Ron Paul’s supporters are just on the wrong side of tinfoil hattery. Social Cons need to get their head out of their rears and stop thinking abortion is the only issue in the game. Neocons really need to know that Israel isn’t the only thing that America should be worried about overseas. Country Clubbers just gotta remember that the business community isn’t all there is to this country. Foreign policy realists need to have it pointed out to them that principles DO matter not just “what works.” Strict constructionists should remember that compromise is a founding principle, too. The David Frums and Kathleen Parkers of the world have to be shown the door. You hear all these arguments and more coming from inside the GOP, these epithets used like clubs against our own with the result being that it always seems at any minute a party wide cage match could erupt. And I am often just as guilty in playing the purity game. Likely, so are you.
But why do we do it? Why do Republicans break out the pitch forks and light the torches every time there is perceived impurity around them in the party? Why do we enclave so well and why don’t we do “join” well? Even more to the point, why do Democrats seem to avoid this problem?
The first problem we have as Republicans is that, for the most part, we are more concerned with wider principles than are Democrats. Those leftists that are only interested in a single issue know the value of a coalition. Even if they do have some concerns on wider issues they know their pet issue can’t win unless Democrats are in power. So, Democrats that are less concerned with wider issues are able to coalesce to better push their particular long term goals. Often they can even see the sense of temporarily taking a hit with their pet idea if the long term goal stays in focus. They track with each other and “join” very well.
Democrats traditionally will go along to get along on things outside their pet issue. Pro-baby killers don’t have any interest in taxes (other than how much they can find to fund abortion), big government liberals aren’t that worried about gender issues, sexual deviates are happy to let others worry about foreign policy, Europhiles leave the gay issues to their compatriot Democrats, etc., etc. But they all understand that joining together benefits them all.
Republican single issue voters, though, are often offended by expectations of compromise even amongst their own. The slightest move to the wrong side of the line is enough to end associations in a huff. Those principles, or that principle is the Raison d’être, the end all, be all of the matter. Any association that does not pass the litmus test is quickly ended, often vehemently. All too often, the art of compromise amongst our own is eschewed for hidebound insistence on near-term goals.
Yet, while many Republicans are single issue oriented just like Democrats, unlike Democrats Republicans of all stripes are also seriously concerned with other issues. For instance, anti-abortion single issue voters are often Constitutionalists, traditionalists, 2nd Amendment supporters and church goers. While chiefly concerned with abortion all those other issues also spark their passion if to a lesser degree. Country clubbers are also quite interested in foreign policy. Neocons are just as often highly motivated by economics and immigration. And all Republicans are fiercely concerned about American history. These are factors that should bring us together in coalitions. We should reach out to each out to each other, get some of the hackles down and work together better like Democrats do. And we don’t have to glumly emulate Democrats in this. After all, this is how the founding generation did it, too.
Certainly, Democrats have been good at this only recently becoming more strident amongst each other. In fact, this is why the DailyKos and MoveOn.org made such a big splash a few years ago. Those efforts were the first time Democrats began to look for purity in their own ranks to the point of attempting to excise the unbelievers. The jury is still out as to the effect that the MoveOn and DailyKos set are having on the Democrat side of the aisle, though. One thing is sure, thus far electoral victory has eluded them. They have money aplenty, but specifically supported candidates have not won at the polls to date (Obama aside).
But, back to us. Why do we fight each other as much as we do the real enemy? Why at the drop of a hat are we so ready to drum out certain elements of our own? And why don’t we see that this constant purity purging leaves us weakened to the point where Democrats walk away with the prize while we sit on the sidelines seething?
Am I saying anything goes? Am I saying the big tent is more important than any one principle? No. There are some elements that need to be cut out of the party — as Buckely knew with the Birchers in the 50s and 60s. What I am saying is we need to make better coalitions. If the Constitutionalists can team up with the Social Cons and make a more powerful coalition than the Neocons and the country clubbers, then let the stronger lead the pack and the weaker acquiesce, happy for a seat at the table, until such time as another coalition wins the upper hand.
Again, Democrats do this well. They have gatherings and events, they reach out to each other and try to hammer out an agenda and they don’t let temporary losses at the polls deter them from the grand design. On the other hand, we hold events without inviting other groups. We send out newsletters but only to the like-minded. We carp and shout amongst our own enclave without bothering to reach out to fellow Republicans that differ if but slightly.
It is just a singular fact that we can’t win as single enclaves. We HAVE to learn “join” better. This is just the facts on the ground. Constantly attempting to excise each other is a Frumming we can’t recover from. (Speaking of certain would-be Republicans turned sudden media stars, we also need to remember that these people are interested in themselves and their own careers and have little interest in the party itself. It’s all about name recognition for them… THEIR name. They are destroyers not builders for without a wreck they have nothing to write about. Take them as such.)
Certainly the fault for all of this is both within and without. As noted above we don’t do “join” well and that is in some measure due to our nature as conservatives interested in individualism and self-reliance. But there is another reason why the center-right often flounders in America. We’ve allowed the left to win the battle to control the debate and, in the end, the very fabric of government.
The one thing that has forced us to this point is the cancerous growth of the federal government. That growth has destroyed the true American system. Originally the USA was supposed to be governed by coalitions of state interests gathering together to guide federal policy. Senators were not elected by the people but appointed by the state to represent the state’s interests. And in all the federal government was a vastly smaller concern that did not garner the attention and the deep pockets of lobbyists.
In that environment, conservatives of all stripes had the luxury of gathering in smaller associations. Purity was much easier to assure then. Local control was paramount.
Sadly, the left is currently in complete control of the game board. They have made the federal government the biggest player growing Washington to gargantuan proportions and they have redefined the American system into the Euroesque mess that it is. And Republicans have by turns stood idly by letting them do so, and then copying them when we had the dice in our hands.
If we want to bring it all back to a manageable size we need to begin reducing government. We need to slice programs, fire government employees, and cut regulation. This is the only way we can begin to take the upper hand for the simple reason that our whole philosophy is antithetical to big government. On top of all that we need to take control of the educational system because all this over indulgence in big government stems from an electorate too ignorant to even know why smaller government is the right way.
So, we have several tasks before us. But learning how to join forces and begin to truly cut government down to size is chief among them. It means we’ll have to tolerate the less than pure amongst us at times, yes. But if we splinter we will never even have a seat at the table that will forever be set by big government, socialist, liberals.
Sorry for the mess this all makes, as purity is so much simpler. But if you’ve ever read of the cage matches the Founders went through, well, you’ll know today is no different. At least on that level so we are in good company.