Below is the Purity Test that Republicans are thinking of taking on and a lot of liberals think is bad (though why they get a vote I don’t know.)
Now, two first thoughts on a general basis. There is nothing wrong with a party taking their planks serious. I mean, if the Democrats came out with a purity test that required (among other things) supporting right-to-choice, that would make sense for their party. My other thought is that a lot of people commenting on this test are forgetting a key point, that Republicans can BREAK ANY TWO of them without losing support. You can’t break three, but two is okay. Which means that the word ‘purity’ isn’t really fair. If a guy is 80% white and 20% black, does the KKK count him as pure?
So my initial reaction to this list was mostly positive. I think it’s good for them to have a list of political values and to stick to them. And if you can’t stick to them, then maybe you aren’t really part of the party. However, with that, I also get the thought that the result of both parties doing this, is you never have middle of the road centrists to help with negotiations, and every vote from now on is fillibustered and debate/compromise goes out the window, replaced with brute strength. Perhaps that’s for the best, but if the main parties only push the wings, the people in the middle (me!!!) will eventually have to find a new party to vote for.
So, those are my general thoughts. What follows are my more specific thoughts.
“(1) We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s ‘stimulus’ bill;
“like Obama’s stimulous bill” What does that mean? This first point annoys me because it’s not a principle, it’s a political dart. I liked the rule all the way up to “Obama”. Before that, you have a principle the party can stand behind, a prism through which to judge every bill. After that, you have a specific bill you don’t like because you don’t like the person who pushed it. Which means as soon as that person (Obama) is out of the way you can pass bills even worse.
“(2) We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;
Again, this isn’t a principle. What is Obama-style government run healthcare? How does this apply to Medicare? Medicaid? Suppose you were a Senator trying to judge a bill that adjusted medical funding in one way or another. Unless Obama is President, and you know to oppose, how does this rule help you judge a bill’s value? I put forth that this isn’t a rule or principle or governing concept, is a simple paritsan attack.
“(3) We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;
This is a better rule. But a reoccuring trend still shows. Other than this one specific bill, how does this rule help you or anyone else understand how Republicans will vote in the future? It’s an empty shell of a principle.
“(4) We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;
This rule at least is more principle than attack. Straightforward too. But here’s the catch, what if they fix Card Check to allow for secret ballot? I, for example, agree that we need to protect “workers’ right to secret ballot”. But if they fix that, that would remove most of my problem with Card Check. Does that mean I’m breaking or obeying this rule?
“(5) We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;
A true Conservative knows that ease of immigration is a corner-stone of Conservative Theory. Easy Immigration is a cornerstone of capitalism and free-market. Moreover, the McCain Reform bill would have charged a $5000 fine to every illegal immigrant. Straight up, I’d love to get every last illegal immigrant to pay their fine, leave the shadows and start paying fair taxes. And I assure you, that is a cornerstone of Conservativism. So Amnesty? No. Immigration reform? Hell yeah.
“(6) We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;
This is the absolute worst one. This one defies the Constitution and says the Commander-In-Chief (President Obama) has to obey the Generals, not the other way around. As a principle, this one is absolutely anti-american and anti-constitution and anti-conservative. More.
“(7) We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;
Hear hear! I agree with one. Containment? Yes! Invasion and nation building? Hell no! And yes, whatever we do, the goal should be eliminating their nuke threats. All the other bad stuff about there (of which there are too many to list here) can be handled later on.
“(8) We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
Traditional religious right values here. Seems fair.
“(9) We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing, denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and
This one catches my eyes, as this could be used to argue for voting for the health care bill as it prevents denial of claims, doesn’t fund abortions and does prevent companies from rationing healthcare away from the poor. Don’t think they meant it that way though.
“(10) We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership;.”
So, overall, I like the idea, but the specific rules they picked aren’t good. They’re mostly partisan attacks and/or specific bills and/or they just don’t like the President. If they removed several of those and replaced them with broader principles such as “less power of the federal over states rights” or “weakening of the interstate commerce clause” or simplized versions of the above such as “support market-based solutions such as increased interstate competion between insurance companies” (which is important!) then perhaps the test would be useful.
Some sources and/or further reading on this:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bal-md.steele03dec03,0,3787642.story (This one is a good one, as it has Michael Steele saying it’s mostly just talk.)