Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Minnesota Purge: Loyalty, Not Purity

The collapse of the snow-covered Metrodome is not the only interesting news to come out of Minnesota this weekend. The Minnesota Republican Party did something interesting as well, they banished 18 party members, including two former governors and a retired US Senator. I am generally opposed to purges, but I think this was an excellent move.

The reason the Minnesota Republican Party banished these 18 members was because they endorsed the third-party candidate for governor over the Republican candidate. The third-party candidate (Republican turned independent Tom Horner) won 12% of the vote, while Republican Tom Emmer lost to the Democrat by less than 9,000 votes. Thus it’s rather clear that this third party candidate cost the Republicans the governor’s mansion.

The reasons they endorsed the moderate were the standard ones given by RINOs: they claimed the party had gotten too conservative and they wanted to protect the party before it became a small fringe party, blah blah blah. And now they are shocked and dismayed that they were kicked out of the party and they pretend not to understand why this action was taken. Said one member, “The Republican Party leadership is being very vindictive to some persons who have been staunch Republicans throughout the years. Most people I talk to don’t get it.”

Well, let me explain this to our confused friends.

A political party must be a Big Tent if it is to achieve any sort of electoral success. The reason is simple, there are not enough voters who share the identical political views to form anywhere near a majority of the electorate. Indeed, if we polled all the readers of Commentarama, we would find that few (if any) shared all the same views, even though Commentarama readers are much more ideologically similar than the public at large. Now imagine trying to limit a political party only to people who agreed on all issues? It’s not possible. Thus, any successful political party must accept within its ranks a wide range of people, including both moderates and conservatives/liberals.

But where do we draw the line? In other words, how can a party function if it allows dissenting views within its ranks? The answer is in the nature of the covenant that forms the political party. When a party is formed, its members agree that they may disagree with each other internally, e.g. in primary contests, but they will all accept the result of the decision-making process, e.g. the vote, and will support the chosen candidate, even if they disagree with some of the chosen candidate’s views. In this way, the views of different members may be taken into account as everyone has the chance to have their views heard. And if you can convince enough party members to support your position, then your position becomes the party position, and each election cycles gives you a new chance to make your case.

Yet some party members violate this pact. They will argue for a particular view or candidate, but when their view is not adopted, they betray the party and endorse a candidate from another party. This is bad faith, and these people are death to a party because they destroy the compact that gives the party meaning. In other words, they wipe out the very point of having a party, which is for similar-minded people (even though not-identically minded) to band together to achieve their common goals.

Moreover, while these people cloak themselves in talk of the Big Tent or expanding the party, they actually are advocating the smallest tent imaginable -- they are advocating a “my view or else” approach, which leaves no room for disparate views to work out their differences and find common ground. This is like Henry Ford saying that customers could have any color car they wanted, so long as they chose black. The offer of a choice is fraudulent.

Consequently, it is best to dump these people because they are not participating in good faith, and their staunch position will alienate others who are trying to behave in good faith and were willing to follow the compact. Additionally, these people are practicing a scorched earth form of politics that is disreputable and reflects purely upon the very party to which they feigned loyalty. Indeed, the other side is always happy to give these people a platform from which they can describe their supposed party as extremist, rotten and evil. . . something they happily do.

Thus, contrary to what these Minnesota banishees claim, they were not kicked out because the party was intolerant of moderates, they were kicked out because they were disloyal and their views are intolerant of other views.

Good riddance.


Tehachapi Tom said...

Your point is well taken and the dissenters need to be removed. One of the cornerstones of character is loyalty. The definition of loyalty is very clear when it states commitment to person, party or country.

Our elected leaders are mostly coming up short in the area of character. This is I feel the primary reason our country is in the current financial condition it is.

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, I agree. Loyalty is a cornerstone of character and it's what makes families, institutions, and country work. And these guys are disloyal. They are "users". They see the party as something that should work for them, and when it doesn't, they have the right to betray it. That's why they need to go.

Like I say in the article, I have no problem with moderates (or anyone who is more or less conservative than I am) so long as they remain loyal to the idea of the party and don't play this "my way or I leave" garbage that these people are playing.

And I find it ridiculous that they claim to be on the side of the big tent, when they are arguing for the narrowest possible party.

T_Rav said...

Ah-ha-ha. Their tears taste so sweet. Now if only the national Republican organization would take a page from Minnesota and kick out all the RINOs who either endorsed or ran as third-party candidates ("cough cough" Lisa Murkowski "cough cough").

Tennessee Jed said...

As a former Minnesotan, I am glad to see you write about the Gopher State G.O.P. I agree with your conclusions that in this case, it was a good thing to kick these slugs out. Certain similarities to the whole Lisa Murkowski mess.

This state has elected Jesse Ventura governor and Al Franken U.S. Senator (or at least frauded him there.) A strange place to be sure.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Agreed! I couldn't help but laugh when I read the comments about how surprised they were and how unfair this was. Could you imagine a football player saying, "I didn't like the plays we were calling so I intentionally fumbled the ball to the other team, and now the coach cut me, and that's really unfair.... **sniff sniff**"

And I agree, the national party needs to clean out some of these people as well, and the best place to begin would be anyone who ran as an independent when they lost the primary.

I'm sure the media would love to spin that into a massive purge, but it would be worth the price to send a message to people that loyalty matters. Plus, I doubt the public would buy into the media's tirade if you kept it mainly to people who ran as third party people and a few others who have actively endorsed Democrats.... (** cough cough *** Colin Powell)

CrispyRice said...

It still makes me uneasy. Didn't you guys in Colorado have the opposite issue? The Republican Party ran a Tea Party candidate for governor who turned out to be a real whacko / bad candidate, and then you had a more true / normal Republican run as a 3rd party and he ended up with lots of party-member endorsements? You still lost the governership. Should they all be tossed for being disloyal too?

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, It is a strange place.

I've always viewed Minnesota as hopelessly Democratic. But lately, that's changed. And what's really interesting about that, is that the change has happened as the party has become more and more conservative.

That was actually a point made by the party leader in response to claims by the guys who got banished that the part was becoming too conservative for Minnesota, and that's why they endorsed the independent candidate.

I wonder if this isn't evidence that might disprove the idea that the party needs to become moderate to win in liberal leaning states?

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I think a media blitz in this case might not be a bad thing, as long as the Minnesota GOP doesn't let them control the story, stands firm, and uses it to get the message out. Hopefully, the politicians learned from primary season not to screw with the conservative base so much, but if not, news like this is very much in order.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Purges should make us all nervous because they are bad public relations and because they often go way beyond a handful of people who deserve it and become tools for wiping out large numbers of people. They are also good at sparking civil wars.

BUT, in this case, I think there is a clear line. Support an independent candidate/Democrat (or run as one) and you risk being kicked out. That makes sense to me.

In terms of Colorado, yeah, that was a mess. We got a Tea Party Republican candidate as the nominee (who wasn't a very good candidate), and then a sort of conservative ran against him, which probably cost us the election.

In terms of principle, I think the principle is the same if it's a conservative or a moderate trying to run independently. The only way a party works is if both sides of the party agree to settle their dispute internally and then support the candidate. Breaking that pact -- whether you are a conservative or a moderate weakens the party and simply can't be allowed if we are to remain a functioning party.

CrispyRice said...

And one more question - how does this fit with the unending stream of Democrats defecting from their party to join the Republicans. I read about a couple more in Georgia this week because "the party has grown too liberal."

Where is the line between loyalty and traitor? Should they be working to "take back" their party? Or should they be thrown out? Should we be welcoming them, knowing they have bolted in the past AND that they are not going to be the most conservative members?

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I think a media blitz would be helpful so long as the GOP didn't cave in and so long as they made it clear that the reason they kicked these people out was disloyalty. That might make others think twice nationwide before they decided to run as independents or support independents.

And with the current mood of the electorate, I would expect that most people would actually be glad to hear that the GOP is finally taking a stand.

So maybe that would be a good thing! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Three points. First, parties are always happy to accept defections. That's good PR and often times you get good people that way, and we should be happy they are switching because it shows that our party is getting it right and the Democrats aren't. BUT, we should NOT change our ideology to try to attract them.

Second, whether they should stay and fight for their party depends on whether there is a chance of success or a good alternative. The progressives have seized all of the levers of power in the Democratic Party and they dominate the primaries, so there isn't much chance of their conservatives winning. Since we are a better alternative than fighting a losing battle, it's hard to say that they should stand and fight. (Remember, unlike a country or family, political parties are voluntary and the obligation is on them to attract you. If they fail, they can't really complain that you left.)

Third, I see a big difference between defections and people who claim to still be Democrats/Republicans and then endorse the other side or run against their own people. To me, defecting is a part of politics as the views of the parties shift. But trying to have it both ways -- claiming to be a part of the party, but supporting the other side -- is disloyalty. And running as an independent to spoil your party's chances of winning is pure disloyalty and sabotage. That's not the same as deciding to change parties.

CrispyRice said...

Interesting ruminations and food for thought here.

I definitely agree with this - "running as an independent to spoil your party's chances of winning is pure disloyalty and sabotage."

You'd better be planning to leave the party and not come back if you do that... or endorse someone who does.

AndrewPrice said...

And Crispy, that's one of the common aspects with these people -- they run against their own party (or endorse the other side) and then they claim that they are still loyal party members, and they can't possibly see how they did anything wrong... so why is everyone so upset at them?

DUQ said...

Well, it's interesting to watch both parties try to figure out what they are and where they are heading. It's definitely a time of flux.

I could still see the country moving toward a 3 party system temporarily. The Repubs become more conservative, the Dems become more liberal, and something wishy-washy springs up in the middle. (OR the Repubs become the wishy-washy middle and the Tea Party becomes a new conservative party.)

Either way, I think that morphs over time into the Dems disappearing, just based on the numbers. Or maybe being absorbed back into the wishy-washy party.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That's an interesting point. I would have agreed about a year ago that there could be three large parties emerging, but our system is actually very good at discouraging third parties. And when the Tea Party people decided that taking over the Republican Party was their best chance, I think the danger of a split on the right went away.

There could be a split in the Democrats, but I suspect that their moderates are more likely to just switch the Republicans at this point.

What I'd love to see would be a small progressive party -- 5-10% split off from the Democrats, but I don't think that will ever happen.

Ed said...

I'm always a little nervous about purges, but this one makes a lot of sense. I agree too with T_Rav, we need to kick out people like Murky from Alaska. She's no Republican, she's a self-interested politician who lives by sucking federal money out of the treasury and sending it home -- a pork queen!

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, On a related note, I think the party needs to work hard to reshape the politics in places like Alaska, West Virginia and Arkansas, to make them less dependent on the federal government. The only way we're going to get the government on the right track is to teach these places that it does not help to become a ward of the federal government.

Unknown said...

Andrew: No less a person than Ronald Reagan was an advocate of the Eleventh Commandment: "Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican." And he knew very well that it meant "after the primaries are over." Unless we want a government on the European parliamentary model of temporary coalitions, we need to stick with the two parties. A large enough movement can transform or even eliminate one of those parties, but our two party system has served us very well. And part of that system is party discipline. We fight, we disagree, we vote in the primaries, and then it's time for unity. Those who don't understand that deserve exactly what the purgees in Minnesota got (and Murkowski richly deserves in Alaska).

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Exactly. It's one thing to argue about policy and candidates in a primary, but it's something completely different to turn on the party after the primary. That violates the very purpose of even having a party. And people who do that should not be trusted, nor do they deserve a place within the party.

Anonymous said...

this was because they weren't extreme enough for the new republican party that's the only reason and that's why American will never turn to you people!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, Yeah sure... wink wink. Have fun screaming in the woods.

Ed said...

Fun, another troll. Apparently, somebody didn't get the message their side lost the last election. Lol!

StanH said...

He’s a racist troll as well, he said “you people.” Grip tight to your Barry doll Bozo, you may have to get a job yet.

I agree with Lawhawk careful with the purges. However, these MN RINOs were nothing but backstabbing weasels, good riddance.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Trolls are a fact of internet life and this one seems unaware of a great many things.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, You're right! Didn't they accuse Rush of being racist for use that phrase?

I agree about the purge. Purges are generally bad, but I think tossing out a couple of high profile people who turned on the party sends the right message.

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