One Step Closer*
As much as I hate to say it, Newt Gingrich does have a point here:
Through my experience as Speaker of the House and building a Republican majority in 1994, I have learned that if America wants a conservative majority in Washington, parts of that majority are going to disagree. I was elected Speaker because a number of moderates voted for me. They gave us control of the House for the first time in forty years, allowing us to balance the federal budget, cut taxes and reform welfare for America.
My endorsement of Dede Scozzafava in the special election for New York’s 23rd Congressional District is a means of regaining a conservative majority in America.
My number one interest in the 2009 elections is to build a Republican majority. If your interest is taking power back from the Left, and your interest is winning the necessary elections, then there are times when you have to put together a coalition that has disagreement within it. [Emphasis mine]
Not too long ago, Rod Dreher observed that there isn’t really a liberal equivalent to the epithet “RINO,” and he’s right. Democrats generally understand that a (D) is a (D), and that while it might be difficult to corral an ideologically heterodox party into supporting specific legislation, the ideological compromises are – by and large – worth it. That is, for all the complaining liberals like to do about Blue Dog Democrats (and I count myself among the complainers), it is simply a fact that the majority of seats won over the past two election cycles have come from conservative districts. And while this hasn’t been great for moving forward on liberal initiatives, it does have the advantage of allowing liberal Democrats – who make up most of the leadership – to set the legislative agenda.
There are two big things I think conservative activists are missing in their relentless campaign against Republican moderates: the first is that those moderates are a necessary part of building a nationally viable Republican Party. The simple fact is that in a large democracy, there can be only so much ideological coherence in a two party system. Newt Gingrich, to his credit, understands this and realizes that in order to build a stronger GOP, the leadership is going to have to do far more to accommodate moderates within the Republican coalition. What’s more, Gingrich also seems to grasp that this isn’t a zero-sum game for conservatives. At the moment, most of the GOP’s leadership is reliably conservative. Successfully retaking Congress, even if it requires empowering a few moderates, means that those conservatives are once again in a position to control the legislative agenda.
The simple fact is that conservatives need moderates to pass conservative legislation. And while hyper-ideologues might not particularly like that, they are going to have to live with it.
*Yes that is a reference to that terrible Linkin Park song. No, I will not link to it.