Keep Teabagging Pure

Two weeks ago, the Republican National Committee approved a resolution urging Republican leadership to examine the records of candidates and verify if those candidates really support the party’s platform. In the event that the wayward candidates do not, the resolution urges that they not receive funding from the RNC. What is interesting about this resolution is that it is a concession to radical James Bopp, Jr., and his conservative allies in the committee, who have demanded that all candidates abide by a list of specific conservative principles. Some have considered this a purity test, and RNC chairman Michael Steele has rejected the idea.

This is the latest battle in the Republican Civil War, in which some far-right conservatives attempt to cast out anyone that even remotely deviates from their narrow goals and beliefs. The RNC represents the Republican Party as a whole, and like the Democratic Party, the Republican Party consists of a variety of people – some clearly more conservative than others. Building a coalition usually does not involve isolating entire sub-sections of supporters, yet this is precisely what Bopp and other wacky conservatives so desperately want to do. Clearly, they would rather live out the maxim “it’s my way or the highway,” rather than try to work their policy preferences into the current Republican establishment.

According to Bopp’s proposed purity resolution, if any potential Republican candidate fails to meet eight out of the 10 conservative principles, that candidate is not a “true conservative” and must be stopped from running under the party banner. The principles include smaller government and national debt, lower deficits and taxes, free-market health care, and support for troop surges and aggressive action against Iran and North Korea. They also include fierce opposition to such liberal hallmarks such as cap and trade, amnesty for illegal immigrants, gun control, gay marriage and abortion. Aside from the fact that a few of these core principles are specifically anti-Obama, many well-known GOP politicians would not pass muster in their own party, most notably Ronald Reagan (who only scores five out of ten).

Thankfully, the Republican Party will not be adhering to Bopp’s stringent list of core “conservative principles.” This watered-down resolution only recommends that certain action be taken without forbidding certain candidates to run for office. After all, not only would such candidates appeal to a very narrow segment of the electorate, but this restriction would tie the GOP’s hands even further in a time when they need to broaden their appeal to survive. Such a limitation would be counteractive to their future electoral success, and while Michael Steele may be goofy at times, he is simply not stupid enough to support such a bad idea.

If there is no longer any room for moderate Republicans or economic conservatives within its camp, then all that is left is religiously motivated, radical right wing-extremists. The Grand Old Party would be nothing more than a fringe movement on the outskirts of the political system – hopefully one that wouldn’t have much influence on serious government business. If there is any purging to be done, I would suggest purging these fringe-right ideologues so that the Republican Party can again be considered a sensible alternative to the Democratic Party.

On a purely selfish level, the destruction of an opposing party seems like a dream come true, but one cannot deny the very obvious advantage to having real legitimate alternatives in a democracy. Because this country operates on a two-party system, there has to be a second option for people that cannot fit into the wide Democratic tent.

There is a reason people left the Republican Party in droves last year and are reluctant to identify with it: they no longer feel comfortable in the increasingly frantic and radical nightmare that the “tea baggers” and ultra-conservatives are creating. These fringe Republicans have no right to kick out everyone that does not agree with them. If these usurpers feel that the Republican Party is no longer an establishment that they can get behind, they ought to leave it and form their own group. They are trying to force the party to completely change and adhere to their political beliefs; they take advantage of its campaign donations and its established name as a major political party.

Some in the Republican establishment are trying to eliminate cooperation within their own house. How can anyone work with (or even be governed by) a group that is willing to ignore and throw out any alternative viewpoints within its own base? These guys cannot honestly claim to be outraged by a Congress they believe is shoving its plans down America’s throats when they are attempting to do the exact same thing to the Republican Party.

Kerry Wakely is a second-year English major. He can be reached at kwakely@uci.edu.