Should Republicans and Democrats Emphasize Party Purity?

Readers share their thoughts.


Chris Chocola at the Club for Growth says that success comes from the inside out and that Republican politicians in particular must insist on certain principles. But Edward Gresser of the Democratic Leadership Council argues that ideological purity kills parties, and new thinking is needed instead. Your feedback:

I think political parties need some core values, but with enough common sense limits and compromise to attract sizable majorities, including independents. Yes, George W. may have been too rigid on Iraq foreign policy and attempted partial Social Security privatization. Obama on the other hand has nationalized GM, Chrysler, and effectively health insurance (private in name only). Sen. Jim DeMint is correct that bipartisan bills never reduced the size of government. The problem is that very rarely is a government program rescinded after it outlives its purpose.

STEVEN KALKA East Rockaway, NY

If the Republican party trumpets so-called core value purity—the right wing agenda—it will be the end of the GOP. The country is starving for people: (1) who understand the big problems, (2) who have a sensible plan for moving wisely toward solutions, (3) who are open and honest with us, (4) who will work cooperatively, and (5) who demonstrate that long-lost quality, leadership. Probably the best thing the GOP could do is conduct a long and deep poll to learn what we common citizens view as problems, and move forward from that.

DEAN WILLIAMS Willimantic, Conn.

I agree with Mr. Chocola that the Republican party needs to unify around its core values, including restrained government spending, business growth, and individual liberty. Other traditional Republican priorities such as tax reduction and national defense may have to wait for our economic crisis to subside. But the main issue is a need to reestablish that we are a republic, not a democracy, as our Constitution demands. In order to maintain a republic, it is necessary for voters to elect representatives who vow to defend the Constitution. If Republicans all identify with and promote constitutional requirements they should get more votes.

JACK STONE Plymouth Meeting, Pa.

Is it just purity of principles? Or what the principles are? Conservatives win when they run on their principles. Democrats only win when they hide their principles and run as conservative values candidates. Except, of course, in Baghdad by the Bay.

LEWIS FLAGG Milford, Mass.

It’s ironic that Mr. Gresser should mention “the Northeast” when Scott Brown just won “the People’s Seat” that used to belong to hardcore leftist Ted Kennedy. Obama won in’08 by running as a centrist. Now, he is trying to polarize the country by playing the race card on immigration, and the “horse trading” and backroom deals on the healthcare bill have turned off moderate voters. Read the polls. More kids every year are growing up pro-life (partly because liberals abort their kids, so the conservative demographic is growing faster).

We are still a center-right country. Democrats are the ones who need “self-criticism and new thinking.” “We’ve been there”? No, Mr. Gresser, you are there. Current Democrats have scared moderate voters by revealing the depths of their liberalism. Better move to the right fast before November.


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