So now a group within the RNC is pushing a 10-point purity test to determine whether prospective Republican party candidates would qualify for party funds and endorsements.
A group of conservative Republican leaders is proposing a solution to the internecine warfare over what the party should stand for: a 10-point checklist gauging proper adherence to core principles like opposing government financing for abortion and, more generally, President Obama’s “socialist agenda.”
In what was being dubbed a purity test when it leaked out to reporters on Monday, the proposal would require the party to withhold campaign money and endorsements from candidates who do not adhere to at least seven principles on the checklist. (Note: that seems to be an error by the NYT. You have to adhere to at least eight. If you adhere to only seven, you lose party support.)
And here’s why they feel this is necessary:
Members of the conservative group within the RNC tell The Washington Times that, besides aiming to make the GOP more consistently and reliably conservative by promoting lower taxes, keeping spending levels in check and focusing on national security, they want to head off an already emerging third party inspired by the anti-spending tea-party movement.
So Republican leaders are worried about the party shrinking, by disgruntled members peeling away on the right fringe. Therefore, they propose to lurch the entire party to the right. By applying a purity test that not even many past and present Republican leaders would be able to pass, including the hallowed Ronald Reagan, as well as George W. Bush and John McCain.
It doesn’t seem to occur to them that lurching to the right will only cause disgruntled party members to peel away from the center. And drive a larger proportion of Independents to vote Democratic instead of Republican.
It seems that given the simmering anger of the tea-party movement, and the virulence of that anger, shrinkage in the Republican party’s membership and vote support is inevitable. The only real choice is how they shrink.
They can shrink by losing extremists, and still remain a viable political party, with a realistic shot at winning the Presidency again one day, or regaining control of the Senate and/or the House.
Or they can shrink by losing moderates, centrists and Independents, and becoming a party uncomfortably dominated by extremists and angry delusionists. In the process, they would probably be kissing goodbye to any realistic chance of becoming the majority party again in the foreseeable future.
Since the Republican Party currently seems to be operating on the principle of “whoever makes the most noise wins the day”, there is every possibility that we are watching the party of “No way!” in the process of planning to thoroughly and comprehensively lose their way for a good long time.
In the long term, that’s surely bad news as we lose all the advantages of a well-balanced two party system. In the short term, though, it might make the country governable again. Which, as the fate of the healthcare reform bill makes clear, might not be an entirely bad thing. And not a moment too soon, either.