DJ over at the RWL is really on a roll. Two of Zak’s recent posts have got his blood boiling. Zak’s Coalitions post was the latest offender. First off, Zak has his own opinions about issues and is free to share them on this blog. Just as I do. He doesn’t speak for me and I don’t speak for him.
Since DJ lumped me into his response, I feel compelled to respond. I take offense to being called a big government guy. As a small business owner, I see first hand the effects of an over burdensome government. It’s not pleasant. And I have never had a history of supporting unnecessary government programs; DJ rightfully pointed out my post opposing Kaine’s Pre-K program. I see a Federal Government over stepping its bounds with programs like No Child Left Behind and the Prescription Drug Program. And I’ve spoken out against them.
But there is a difference between DJ and myself. I believe in smaller government. I am not anti-government as are most libertarians. I believe government plays an important role in our society. Public safety, education and transportation infrastructure come to mind. Government just needs to be kept in check.
DJ’s post is also telling as to how many in our Party view coalitions. For DJ and others, taxes are the litmus test for calling yourself a Republican. If you are solidly anti-tax in all matters, you can be a part of our Republican coalition. It’s OK if you stray on other issues like immigration or campaign finance. I think DJ’s support of McCain proves this. McCain’s support of amnesty and tough campaign finance laws have placed him out of favor with many Conservatives. But DJ is supporting McCain. And I think that’s because they are on the same page fiscally. DJ agrees with McCain on the issue most important to him.
I have met Republicans here in the Valley who are staunchly pro-life. That is the most important issue to them. If you are not pro-life, then they don’t consider you a real Republican. And again, they are willing to look the other way on issues like taxes or immigration, as long as you are pro-life.
The problem with this way of thinking is clear. If members of our coalition are only willing to accept other members who think like them on that one key issue, then we don’t really have a coalition anymore. The pro-lifers are over in this corner. The anti-taxers are over in this corner. The gun folks are in the other and so on. Yes, there is some cross over and we may work together occasionally, but we are not one unified group. And without that unity, we lose the ability to win elections.
I was surprised at the cavalier attitude in which DJ describes how the anti-tax wing has been leaving the party for years. He mentions how the anti-taxers abandoned Bush 41 for Perot in 1992 and never really supported Dole in 1996. I have heard others say they have not voted for the Party’s nominee in years. I am not aware of other groups abandoning the Republican Party in this fashion. And I don’t think it’s something to be proud of. What do you gain be leaving the table? Nothing. You just lose your place and your voice.
A small number in the Party tried to get rid of me. And they were damn near successful. But I am still here. Is the Republican Party perfect? Not by a long shot. But I think our Republican Party is the best chance for our Country and Commonwealth and that is something worth fighting for.