Wednesday, October 19, 2005 :::
Old Zach points out a very interesting piece in the AFP by Nathan Tabor on the choices conservatives face now and in the coming elections.
All conservatives have a choice. We could join forces with the Southern Democrats to form a new party; we could look to one of the existing third parties; or we can stand our ground and fight for that which we built. I believe we should fight for control of the party we built. The Republican Party cannot sustain itself on its moderate wing. The GOP needs conservatives to maintain its majorities and to win national office. Conservatives, not moderates, built the Republican Party.
The GOP can't afford to forsake its conservative base by running to the middle. It's time we let them know we are the party of faith, family and freedom. The time has come for us to let our voices be heard. First we must realize and accept the truth that the Republican Party is nothing without conservatives. Then we must demand that the party leadership respect this truth.
This is strong stuff, under any circumstances. But it's doubly so for me because I just finished speaking with a friend who made the argument that conservatives need to stop voting Republican or Democrat and vote their principles instead -- regardless of party.
Now there is more than a bit of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face in this argument. But not entirely. At the national level, fiscal conservatives only now are gaining some traction on the idea of reigning-in federal spending. In the battle over the Miers nomination, many have decided they cannot support a malleable cipher and presidential crony.
In Virginia, fiscal conservatives (derided as "free lunchers", "flat earthers" and whatever else pops into Barnie Day's head) are on the verge of a massive battle over taxes in the next session. But I'm getting the distinct impression they are willing to cut and run on big issues like a TABOR, school choice and other ideas to position themselves for the next election cycle. To tell you how far this timidity may have spread, even VCAP seems, privately, to be wringing its hands over anything that will widen the "splits" in the VAGOP.
I could be very wrong. I hope I am. But it does strike me that one possible reason why Jerry Kilgore, for instance, saw a drop in his GOP support in the latest SurveyUSA poll is that some in the rank and file may be turning their backs on a party that wants their money and votes, but nothing else.
Is it time for a wide-open fight? One is already underway, to a degree. Is it time to jump ship? Where would they go? Again, I don't know if a conservative rebellion would serve any larger purpose than to delight the Democrats. But the friction between power and principle seems to be growing sharper. And unless something changes soon, a split may be unavoidable.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/19/2005