INSIDE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, U.S.A.:
THE COMING CONSERVATIVE INSURRECTION
By Christopeher G. Adamo
According to Robert Bluey, a staff reporter for CNSnews.com, state Representative Terry Parke, one of those advocating major reform in the party, stressed that the party should stand for such principles as “less government, lower taxes, a free enterprise system, and family values.” The fact that Parke had to highlight the particular issues as being fundamentally Republican is itself a clear indicator of a problem. In times past, it wasn’t necessary to make such a statement. People naturally assumed these ideals to be the bedrock of Republican philosophy. Unfortunately, in recent years, under a distortion of Ronald Reagan's concept of “the big tent,” an element of Liberalism has successfully infiltrated the Republican Party. Lately, standard procedure for Republicans has been to simply offer a “light beer” version of whatever tenet or policy proposal in the Leftwing Liberal agenda the Democrats are currently attempting to advance.
One target of grassroots Conservative criticism in Illinois is Bob Kjellander, who is the Illinois Republican National Committeeman, and also serves as the regional liaison for the Bush campaign. In response to one of his critics, State Senator Steve Rauschenberger, Kjellander claims that Rauschenberger employs a “rule or ruin mentality.” That phrase gives a clue as to the real extent of problems facing the Republican Party, not only in Illinois, but throughout America.
Bob Kjellander wasn’t the first to accuse Conservatives of intending to “rule or ruin.” During the 1994 Wyoming Republican convention, Senator Alan Simpson, in the convention's keynote speech, decried the groundswell of moral Conservatism during those years as “a blight on the Republican Party,” and excoriated its participants as seeking to “rule or ruin” the party. Simpson, now retired from the U.S. Senate, has gone on to champion such causes as the recruitment of homosexual Republican activists into the party mainstream.
Elsewhere in the nation, similar unrest exists among grassroots Conservatives who are having to come to grips with the fact that they have been systematically disenfranchised from Republican Party politics for several years, though many have been unwilling to admit to themselves that such is the case. In the State of New Jersey, for instance, Conservative Republicans, seeking to maintain “party unity,” rallied recalcitrant voters to support ultra-Liberal feminist Christine Todd Whitman in an extremely tight governor’s race in 1997. So concerted was the effort to bolster Whitman’s sagging campaign that major Conservative figures came from outside the state to lend their own credence to her cause.
Clearly, Whitman’s narrow margin of victory indicated that she could never have succeeded without their help. But, for all their efforts, what Conservatives received in response was nothing short of a complete betrayal in 2001, when Brett Schundler could have benefited from Whitman’s help with his own effort to win the governorship of the Garden State. Rather than offering support, Whitman, along with other socalled "Moderates" in the New Jersey Republican Party, systematically worked to sabotage Schundler’s election efforts. In the end, his loss to Democrat Jim McGreevey highlighted the fact that, invariably, it is “Moderates” who regularly shoot “party unity” in the foot, while Conservatives are expected to do all of the bleeding.
As the presidential election season heats up, Republican strategists and operatives across the nation should be inspiring and rallying the party faithful by diligently working to advance the Conservative agenda that swept them into office in the first place. In fact, they ought to have been doing so for the past three years. Instead, too many appear to be fixated on a course of “moderation” that will neither inspire the base, nor win the hearts of the opposition. Historically, Conservatives have been reluctant to break ranks and divide the party. But rather than rewarding that loyalty, those on the inside seem intent on stretching it, perhaps beyond the breaking point.
Ultimately, Conservatives regard the political debate to be, not about people, but about principle. Those who misread Conservative allegiance as focusing on personality are dangerously mistaken. A presidential election year is not a good time for Moderates to force the issue. Republican politicians, who continually seek to play it safe by sitting on the fence, had better recognize just how rapidly the situation is approaching critical mass.
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