(Richard Viguerie) – In an interview with the Baltimore Sun this week, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele publicly rejected the candidate “litmus test” proposed by a group of national conservatives. The concept behind the proposal is to force a certain “conservative ideological purity” on to candidates and elected officials in the Republican Party so that Republicans don’t end up supporting socialist-statist policies. The RNC will vote on the proposal next month when it holds its annual meeting.
While well intentioned, the litmus test proposal would do little to solve the two fundamental problems within the Republican Party: bad leadership and conservative acquiescence to bad leadership.
RINOs such as Dede Scozzafava and Florida Governor Charlie Crist aren’t the real issue. Scozzafava, Crist, and others who rightly deserve the “RINO” tag are merely an annoyance. Besides irritating their fellow Republicans with their liberalism, RINOs haven’t really had a great deal of impact on the direction of Republican party policies over the past decade.
The current Republican leadership has consistently supported our national slide to socialism. I’m talking about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader John Boehner, and the leading architect of Republican endorsed socialist-statism, former Bush White House political advisor Karl Rove. These “leaders” have consistently abandoned constitutional principles of limited government in favor of socialist-statist programs, all in the name of “winning.”
The Bush supported Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 was the largest Federal Government give-away program in decades. Former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay broke a few arms in the party to make sure this legislative travesty passed, and former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert cheered him on. At the time of its passage, Karl Rove mistakenly crowed that the legislation meant that the Republican Party had wrapped up electoral dominance for years to come.
In the fall of 2008, both McConnell and Boehner voted in favor of President Bush’s now infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program legislation, a $700 billion bailout of large financial institutions which merely transferred large piles of money from average taxpayers to Wall Street fat cats who had run their businesses into the ground, based in part on requirements forced on them by Congress.
During both of these disasters, as well as many others, most of the national conservative leadership maintained its silence as the “pragmatists” destroyed free markets and conservative principles.
National conservatives who want to fix the Republican Party shouldn’t waste their time forcing symbolic litmus test votes on the Republican National Committee. Instead, they should consider focusing their considerable energies on solving the real problem. Now is the time to put new leaders at the helm of the House, the Senate, the RNC, the NRCC, and the NRSC.
A litmus test is only as good as the character of the person who endorses it. It’s easy for professional politicians to say they support something in order to pass a test that gives them access to campaign cash. The more important test is true devotion to the limited government principles embodied in our Constitution.
The road to new leadership for the Republican Party goes through the 2010 primaries. The current Republican members of Congress aren’t going to throw McConnell and Boehner out. But the Republicans elected in November of 2010 can get that job done. Conservatives can help make that a reality by supporting boat-rocking principled conservative candidates in the upcoming primaries, and making sure they win in November.
(Mr. Viguerie pioneered political direct mail is the author of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause)