Monday, December 6, 2010

Republican Purge Problems

At the end of a long state central committee meeting December 4th a motion was made from the floor to "renounce" those republicans who publicly supported Tom Horner for governor. Those named were pretty much has beens although they included two nominally republican former governors and one nominally republican former senator. While much outrage was directed at these miscreants, an observer could be forgiven for wondering if delegates have too much time on their hands or are unable to think of a productive use with which to put that time. Having just won control of the state legislature a large segment of the delegation promptly looked backward and in a manner that made the RPM look petty, small and foolish.

The final vote on this ridiculous motion was 59 to 55. Lost in media reports, almost understandably so, was the fact that this motion split the party. Why would republican activists insist on proceeding with a course of action that would damage the party? Because these type of activists insist on being right and pure rather than effective or useful in winning elections. MC would have enjoyed listening to them explore why their candidate for governor failed in spectacular fashion in a wave election but no such self-reflection was forthcoming. Instead, another target was chosen and off they went: smug, self-righteous and tone-deaf.

Those opposed to the motion, including MC, tried to point out that this group of republicans should not be given the attention the motion would bring. How this motion would be perceived by the press and general public was dismissed out of hand by these Robespierre wanna bes. Needless to say, the publicity has been uniformly negative.

Unfortunately, there is a large overlap of these types of delegates with those in the RPM who think our entire election system is fraudulent, that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is a communist or pals around with them and who see a conspiracy of some sort around every corner. This is a worrisome development on many levels, not least of which is the diversion from focusing on how to govern best in 2011. It also constitutes some sort of political pathology that will poison the party if left unchecked.

Our friend Craig Westover has a very different take on the issue and explains his position with his usual eloquence. Click here to read him.

MC doesn't care for those republicans who endorsed Horner any more than those delegates who thought the purge motion was a good idea. In our view, the cure was worse than the disease. These people are not moderates, either, and there should be no doubt about that. The best approach to outliers or those who have left the reservation is to ignore them. The need to punish is usually one best to avoid.

Now we'll have to live down the wholly expected media attention, the memes of civil war in the party and the glee of the recently defeated democrats. All this, of course, will pass. But the mindset that caused it is not likely to pass, at least quickly, and at some point in the near future the RPM will have to deal with the purity people who erode what they insist they wish to strengthen: the GOP brand.