By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
In their ongoing attempt to purify the GOP, a group of Republican National Committee members are cooking up a resolution which would lay out a 10-point platform against which would-be GOPers would be measured. Excessive divergence--getting more than two issues wrong--would result in excommunication from the party.
This is completely reasonable political party behavior ... in Europe, where parties are much more platform- and issue-driven than here in the United States. And it just makes me ask: Why do these Republicans hate the American political system?
The resolution, which may be introduced at the RNC's planned meetings in January, is titled the "Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates." Apparently Reagan had an aphorism that someone who agreed with him 80 percent of the time is his friend, not his 20 percent enemy. I guess he had a sharply different view of 21 percent enemies--never mind his "Eleventh Commandment": Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.
As NBC News notes, the resolution could knock Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe right out of the GOP.
In any case, this is the latest example of the ongoing conservative attempts to purge the Republican Party of what they variably call RINOs (Republicans In Name Only), squishes, and radical leftists. (Democrats have their own problem with a similar movement, and it is no less pernicious.) These conservatives argue that by winnowing the party down to ideological uniformity, they will garner broader voter support. I suppose this is the political version of trickle-down economics, which says that if you cut taxes revenue goes up.
What these conservatives yearn for is a political system that values a much greater adherence to party platform than is normal in the American political system, but is the norm in Europe. In most European countries, the electorate votes for parties and their platforms; in the United States campaigns are focused on individual pols and their personalities. The fact is that the United States doesn't have political parties in the sense that much of the rest of the world understands them. We have loose coalitions under the party label. And there is far greater latitude in the U.S. system for a couple of related reasons: First, we have a two party system; second, as I've argued before, we have a sufficiently large and philosophically diverse country that neither party can maintain philosophical purity and achieve a majority in Congress.
Anyway, here's the would be 10 point GOP litmus test:
(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill;
(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
(4) We support workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership
Update: Steve Benen makes a good point on the notion of litmus tests, arguing that not only would George W. Bush be out of the party (something many conservatives will tell you straight up anyway), but that ...
I'm not sure if Ronald Reagan would have gotten RNC support, either. Reagan, you'll recall, voted for several tax increases, began the modern era of massive federal debt, ran huge deficits, and approved an immigration measure the far-right still resents.
Reagan a 21 percenter? Who knew?