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A Republican “Purity Test” — A Remarkably Stupid Idea

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With the winter meeting of the Republican National Committee coming up, RNC Vice Chairman Jim Bopp has come out with a proposal to pass a resolution establishing a "purity test" for Republican candidates in 2010, rather like the "loyalty oath" idea which was floated a few years ago. The plan would be to get all Republican candidates to sign off on a list of 10 positions, and if they disagreed with three or more of the items they would then be denied any support and funding from the RNC and other party organizations.

While I can safely say that I'd probably pass the test, I find the entire concept deeply distasteful. It's so un-Republican that it makes me angry to think that we've got people in the party leadership who would seriously advocate it. It reflects so badly on the party that supporting it should be more of a disqualification for holding office than disagreeing with its various positions would be.

Obviously this idea originated in the dissatisfaction which many people felt with the failed campaign of moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava.  The problem with this is that Scozzafava was selected by her state's county party chairs who are part of the structure that produces the RNC and she was approved by the RNC.  So this proposal is essentially saying that the RNC doesn't trust its self or its own people to pick candidates responsibly.  And the double irony is that based on her actual views rather than various misrepresenations, Scozzafava might actually pass this test, and if they had just held a party primary and let the GOP rank and file pick her the entire problem would have been avoided.

This is the kind of ideologically based litmus test which makes the party look foolish and which has historically been more characteristic of the Democrats than of Republicans. Traditionally Republicans have been united by broad core values like a belief in individual liberty and limited government rather than specific issues of policy. The membership has been called a "big tent" for a reason. Bopp apparently wants to replace that tent with a tiny little coffin.

Here are the proposed items which candidates would have to sign off on:

1. We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

2. We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

3. We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

4. We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

5. We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

6. We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

7. We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

8. We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

9. We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

10. We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

You can guess at which of these I'd have a hard time agreeing to, but the real point is that these issues are so extremely specific and represent a very limited perspective on these issues. There are several points here where there is strong and legitimate disagreement among Republicans, and that disagreement and the debate it produces is much healthier for the party than shutting down dissent.

#6 is particularly poorly conceived. When did the GOP become the party of unqualified, unthinking support of the military? The jury is really still out on whether the "surge" worked in Iraq. The evidence suggests that it was changes in strategy rather than number of men deployed which made the difference there, and there's very little evidence that sending more men to Afghanistan will do any good at all. This is why the Constitution puts the ultimate decisions about wars in the hands of the Congress and President, not the military.

#2 and #9 are somewhat redundant. If we support a free market in health care as stated in #2, then opposition to the things in #9 is a given. #3 makes no sense, since Cap and Trade is a market-based approach to energy reform. I don't like the idea of having to support government mandated energy reform of any sort, market based or otherwise. As for #8, I realize theocratic conservatives don't like to hear this, but the DOMA is a pointless act of pure symbolism and it trivializes the party to raise it to the level of serious political issues. And why stop with these 10 rules? Why not put school vouchers and energy independence and ending social security on the list?

So I don't think much of this list of points we should all agree to. I think they're a poor definition of Republicanism, which should be based on deeper and more universal principles. It would make a lot more sense to me to just make all candidates swear to uphold the Constitution, but I'm funny that way.

However, the real objection here is how foolish doing something like this makes the party look. It suggests that we have no confidence that our members and candidates share in any kind of core ideology, or that we're trying to draw a line between "good" Republicans and some other class of "evil" pseudorepublicans. A lot of people try to do this and it always backfires because no one can really agree on who the "evil" Republicans are. As far as I'm concerned that group probably includes RNC members who want to make me swear an oath to take set positions on a list of arbitrary issues which will probably be obsolete before I run for reelection.

It really suggests that we think our candidates are so stupid or so out of control that they can't be counted on to be at all consistent with the general principles of the party. Rather than working with them and getting to know them like mature adults and trusting their local party and voters to assess their qualifications, we're going to put forward a narrow definition of what they must believe and then punish them if they deviate. It's rather like the way they discipline third-graders in government schools.

What it also tells us is that the RNC really has no idea what it's doing or how to manage the Republican party. It shows a fundamental lack of confidence in the existing infrastructure and the process which produces candidates and ties the party hierarchy and the grassroots together. It suggests a leadership so weak that they feel threatened by the party's own members, imposing mickey-mouse rules because they cannot lead by example and inspiration.

If this is really the best idea Jim Bopp and the other RNC members who have signed on to support this proposal can come up with for guiding the party, then I have to conclude they're intellectually bankrupt and should not be in the offices they currently hold in the organization. It also reflect poorly on RNC Chairman Michael Steele, as it suggests that he heads up a party he can't control by any means short of dictatorship.

Democrats love to bash on the Republican Party and dismiss us as a bunch of hidebound reactionaries who are incapable of thinking for ourselves, and based on this proposal they may have a point. Jim Bopp and the RNC members who supported this idea are doing a very poor job of representing their state parties. They ought to be voted out of office and replaced with people who have some confidence in the party and the principles it stands for and the people who make up its membership.

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About Dave Nalle

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave – it’s refreshing to see you bash the Republicans…and that behooves me to show that I can bash the Dems with equal sincerity. That’s not going to be easy.

    Kudos on your article!

  • CurtisJasper

    “Traditionally Republicans have been united by broad core values like a belief in individual liberty”
    Sorry but those ages are long past. Fiscal conservatism is enjoying a brief revival in the party as a reaction to the Democrats’ apparent lack of fisal responsibility. However, it is fundamentally clear that the GOP has and will continue its gradual decline into a party of religious zealots and End-of-Days types. Fiscally conservative and socially tolerant Republicans are simply not reproducing quickly enough to keep up with the zombies of their party.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Dave, I heard about this and I (a conservative) wouldn’t even pass!! What the heck?????

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “and that behooves me to show that I can bash the Dems with equal sincerity. That’s not going to be easy.”

    Why shouldn’t it be easy, Glenn? You do seem to attribute a far greater integrity to the Dems and the politicians generally than they actually deserve.

    Happy Thanksgiving, BTW.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Curtis, if you read these 10 ill-conceived purity test items, you’ll note that they don’t take an extremely religious conservative, end-of-days perspective.

    The one that addresses abortion takes a moderate position of only opposing federal funding and the one that supports the DOMA, stupid though it is, is supporting the federal version which says nothing negative about legal gay unions, only about the use of the word marriage.

    So, in fact, the two religiously oriented elements in the proposal are extremely weak, and the rest are mostly about fiscal conservatism and individual liberty except for the one pro-war item which is in the hawkish tradition of one element of the GOP.

    So you’re misreading the intent of these test items, because they don’t represent a religiously extreme perspective. Though that makes the idea no less stupid.

    Dave

  • Baronius

    If I were a Republican candidate, I could sign off on the list, but why would I? A new Contract with America would be a good idea, but this list isn’t it. It tries to look like a list of support’s, but it has seven oppose’s.

    Let’s be realistic. The Democrats aren’t going to be running on their record in 2010 unless their record looks a lot better by then. They’re going to be running against the “Party of No”. This list would only make it easier for them. In fact, it’s hard not to view this list as a naysayer’s pledge.

    There’s an old line, something to the effect that any organization’s actions can best be understood by assuming it’s run by a secret cabal seeking to destroy it. That’s the only reason the GOP would come up with this list.

  • Zedd

    Dave,

    Perhaps you are still stuck on the Republican Party of your youth but sober up, this is a VERY Republican proposal. Nothing but.

    I came to age at the time when the Reps started loosing their minds, bandwagoning every shallow idea as long as it made the masses feel warm and fuzzy without regard as to how it would affect the country long term. It that time the pocket pen protector types had been so frightened by the hippies of the previous decades that they were crazed with the idea of bringing America back. The problem was that America was never right or good (people/society rarely are)so the premise was a mess. The Reps became a party of fantasy, self delusion and denial. Skip a generation and you have George Bush, Rush, Bobby Jindal and Sara Palin. This proposal is VERY Republican. Stupid, badly conceived, dangerous, controlling, Utopian and fantasy driven. Wake up Dave. Going along makes you part of the problem.

    Uhmmmm I thought you weren’t a Republican? Happy Thanksgiving Bud!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As usual, you demonstrate sober thinking, Zedd.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    “Every loyal Repubican in Congress is charged with only one important and sacred duty; To make absolutely sure that this president accomplishes little or nothing during this term.”

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Zedd, that’s the point, isn’t it? At a time when the GOP ought to be going back to the broad principles of my youth, it’s considering this idiocy instead. That’s why I wrote the article, to point out that this is more of the same bad management.

    Dave

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    So true, Dave. The Republican Party has gotten as stupid as the 43rd President. Happy Thanksgiving, sir.

  • Baronius

    Jet, considering the President’s agenda, that’s not a bad goal. But the GOP has got to aim higher and actually list the things they want to do.

  • zingzing

    baronius, considering that the republicans seem to think that the president’s agenda is socialism and killing grandma, i’m not sure you’ve got your priorities (or reality) straight.

  • Baronius

    Zing, you disagree with the GOP’s priorities, and I agree with them. None of that changes the fact that a bad or negative articulation of Republican principles would hurt the party in 2010.

  • zingzing

    i’m not sure you could get 10 reps in a room and get them to agree on what their priorities are. and although i do agree with you, it does seem to me that republican principles are primarily negative, so it’s just about the only way to articulate them.

  • Vagif Verdi

    Blame shifting right in the assertion #1. Obama’s stimulus bill ? The one that was proposed by Republican president and ratified by republican Senate a YEAR before Obama’s presidency ?

  • Baronius

    Zing, three thoughts come to mind.

    – The Republican principles are negative, in the same sense that the Bill of Rights is negative. They revolve around restricting government.

    – When you’ve got as little power as the Republican Party has today, you’re not going to make your mark by creating good policies, but by blocking bad ones. President Obama always says that if there’s a better way of solving a problem, he wants to hear about it, but then he lets the House leadership write the legislation. The Republicans have no say.

    – That being said, for the next election cycle the GOP has to articulate the things it wants to do. I keep going back to the Contract with America, which was just about the opposite of this “purity test”. Term limits, welfare reform, tort reform, line-item veto: those were positive goals, and they had appeal. That’s the kind of list the GOP leadership should be making.

  • Cannonshop

    #16 a bill that, had Obama been inclined to walk his campaign talk, he would have rightly vetoed. (then again, he proved his loyalties when he shilled alongside McCain on the earlier multibillion dollar no-oversight bailout of rich financial supporters of both parties.)

  • Zedd

    - The Republican principles are negative, in the same sense that the Bill of Rights is negative. They revolve around restricting government.

    Being negative does not make your point or idea more relevant. It doesn’t bring your beef to the level of the Bill of Rights. Protesting stupidly for stupid reasons against a stupid idea just makes you an idiot. It certainly does not transform you into a great mind like Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson…. Just an idiot with a stupid opinion.

    President Obama always says that if there’s a better way of solving a problem, he wants to hear about it, but then he lets the House leadership write the legislation. The Republicans have no say.

    Are you saying that the Republicans are being prevented from voicing solutions because 1)they are small and 2) the democrats wont let them? Seriously? Or you don’t know why they wont come up with solutions but you have to say something because you believe it’s unAmerican or Republican to say “I don’t know”.

    Term limits, welfare reform, tort reform, line-item veto: those were positive goals, and they had appeal. That’s the kind of list the GOP leadership should be making.

    What about addressing real issues instead of making something up that has appeal. Just a thought.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Blame shifting right in the assertion #1. Obama’s stimulus bill ? The one that was proposed by Republican president and ratified by republican Senate a YEAR before Obama’s presidency ?

    You’re talking about the TARP bill, which is not at all the same thing as the first Stimulus bill. Almost all Republicans voted against the Stimulus bill in both the house and senate.

    President Obama always says that if there’s a better way of solving a problem, he wants to hear about it, but then he lets the House leadership write the legislation.

    And they let it be written by their favorite lobbyists. It’s the Democrat way.

    Dave

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    I think it’s amusing that the party that’s out of power always starts screaming term limits…

    We’ll see that before the line-item veto.

    By the way giving people rights is not a negative. Giving people rights at the cost of other’s rights is bullshit and imaginary. Black ex-slaves couldn’t vote for almost 50 years using that assinine tripe.

    That’s the same argument they used for prohibition wasn’t it?

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Dave forgot to close an HTML??? IT’S THE BIG ONE ‘LIZBETH-I’M COMIN’ FOR YA HONEY!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Why shouldn’t it be easy, Glenn? You do seem to attribute a far greater integrity to the Dems and the politicians generally than they actually deserve.

    And that would seem pretty naive on its face, wouldn’t it?

    BUT if you look at the lists of political scandals since the 70’s, significantly more Republicans were not only involved in significantly more scandals, but in scandals that were MUCH more illegal than those that involved Democrats…and this was regardless of whether the Republicans were in the minority or in the majority! Ponder on the implications of that – and I heartily encourage you to research my claim.

    To go back to the crux of your statement, I DO feel that the Democrats generally do have more integrity than the Republicans…and I rely on forty years’ worth of scandals for proof of my claim.

    And while such a claim is certainly not PC, is it really so preposterous? For not only do we see the statistics, but we also know that people tend to gravitate towards the political party that most closely suits their own personal beliefs…and you already know that many Republicans believe that:

    – government IS the problem,
    – the black helicopters are on their way,
    – the president is an illegal alien,
    – and said illegal alien has a deep-seated hatred of white people,
    – and said illegal alien racist is a socialist who pals around with terrorists.

    You know that the Republican party is the party of ‘me-my-mine’ – MY gun, MY taxes, MY way or the highway – and is it really such a stretch to think that those who feel this way might have a little less integrity than those who are a bit more altruistic in their outlook?

  • Baronius

    “Being negative does not make your point or idea more relevant.”

    True.

    “I think it’s amusing that the party that’s out of power always starts screaming term limits.”

    I think they’re a dumb idea, myself. They’re an example of the kind of thing that the Republicans should be proposing. Education reform, oil independence, missile defense, tax code simplification, and transparency at the Federal Reserve are all positive items that don’t overlap with the President’s current agenda. If you want to put forward a health-care proposal, keeping in mind that some of the ideas may have been resolved in 2010, you’ve got the Mackey plan as a model. There are also the old workhorses of the Republican agenda, like private Social Security accounts and a balanced budget amendment. They could easily come up with a sellable 10-point plan.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “You know that the Republican party is the party of ‘me-my-mine’ – MY gun, MY taxes, MY way or the highway.”

    If this is even partly true, Glenn, as a characterization of the Republican party, then I definitely agree with you.

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    True

    Therefore, going back to Zings original assertion, your party’s ideas are irrelevant. – Unless you’d like to indulge us with an idea or two with practle use for a change.

    Also, the contract with America was a gimmick. Can you guys just walk away from the gimmicks and just sit down and work out real solutions that will advance this country. Not ideas that fit an ideology. Solutions to current problems that will work. – I know new concept (the solutions thingy) but can you try it instead of talking about flags, pitbulls, prayer, home schools, elk, the American dream, and whatever else.

  • Zedd

    Dave,

    I would take your assertion that you are trying to fix your party, seriously if you were consistent. But saying that Obama is about to sign way a great deal of America’s rights in one article then chastising the party for being useless in next just says you don’t know what is wrong with your party AND that you are part of the problem, avec moi.

  • Baronius

    Zedd – I think you misunderstood me. Negativity has nothing to do with relevance one way or the other. President Obama once referred to the Constitution correctly as a “charter of negative liberties”. The idea is that the Bill of Rights enumerates things that can’t be taken away, but doesn’t list things that are to be given (ok, there’s the right to a speedy trial, but do you see the distinction I’m making?).

    This “purity test” sets up Republican policies in a somewhat negative way: we support X by opposing the opposite of X. That’s stupid politics. The Contract with America articulated a positive approach: we’ll do the following things. Both the Test and the Contract reflect the same underlying principles of limited government, but the Test does it in a way that looks partisan and dumb.

    Like I said, this doesn’t have anything to do with the principles’ practicality or effectiveness.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Zedd –

    Also, the contract with America was a gimmick. Can you guys just walk away from the gimmicks and just sit down and work out real solutions that will advance this country. Not ideas that fit an ideology. Solutions to current problems that will work

    Liberals said that cigarettes are bad for you…and the cons produced doctors saying that cigarettes are GOOD for you!

    Liberals said that seat belts are good for you…and the cons claimed that they were an ‘infringement of liberty’ and they’re bad for you!

    Liberals have been pushing green power since the seventies…and as for the cons – what happened to the solar panels on the White House when Reagan took office?

    Liberals want equal rights for homosexuals…but most conservatives think that’s an abomination.

    Liberals (and even some conservatives) were strongly for civil rights…but the strongest opposition to the Civil Rights Act came from Southern conservatives.

    Most liberals know that evolution is a fact…and those who favor teaching creationism in schools are almost exclusively conservative.

    Most liberals believe that global warming is a scientific fact…but most conservatives search for something, ANYthing however specious to deny the science that proves global warming.

    At least since the 1970’s significantly more congressional Republicans have been involved in scandals (criminal, political, or sex) than Democrats…even when the Republicans were in the minority. This is despite the Republicans’ self-proclaimed superiority in ‘family values’.

    What I’m getting to, Zedd, is that the conservatives – and particularly the Republicans – could care less about hard-and-fast numbers, about history, about FACT…unless it’s something that supports what they believe. Otherwise, to hard-line conservatives, facts are just something to be ignored.

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    What does saying you are for limited government DO???? What does it do???? That is what is relevant.

  • Zedd

    Glen,

    Thank you. Sanity!

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    They’re almost all heterosexuals too!

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Almost being the keyword, Jet. Ultra conservative male Republicans are an automatic 2 on the Kinsey Scale. After drinking their gallon of Moonshine they jump to 6.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    I heard about this Dave. It’s kinda funny. Recall that black people had to pay a poll tax and take a “test” in order to vote. Now the Republicans have to find true conservatives with a test.

    In a sense that would be a good idea to ID true conservatives. Here is the great equalizer. This may be the one thing that pulls together a rainbow coalition for the GOP IMHO. I don’t mean the test per se, but the idea of a true conservatives (like myself) in a party all to themselves. Well, we would need help.

    Oh they need to add this to the test: do loud sounds bother you? Conservatives don’t like loud noises or sounds.

  • Baronius

    Zedd, I don’t understand what you mean. It’s a statement of governing principles. Are you objecting to the idea of statements of principles, something about that particular statement, or the policy implications of that statement?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/heloise Heloise

    My cure for the health care reform pain would be to fix the provider end first. I mean if there is health care reform and everyone is invited then who the hell is going to fix em? That means there must be rationing rather than real docs, nurses and PAs.

    This is what makes me mad. I see a big fallout from this major oversight. That said, we better all learn to speak Spanish while we are learning conservatism, for job security.

    Now that Hispanics have been declared racially white by the Feds that means they have a big vein of conservatism in them. I say we start courting their vote on that tip. The country is hungry for TRUE conservatism. Even while I was blogging about candidate Obama I thought he had it. But he is just a puppet like all the rest.

    When I retool I am going to do two things: learn Spanish (I already have French) and get a job in the health care industry.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Glenn, apparently my complaint about your partisan bullshit was deleted by the comments editor, so I’ll give a more specific and less colorful response to the garbage you’ve been unloading here.

    Liberals said that cigarettes are bad for you…and the cons produced doctors saying that cigarettes are GOOD for you!

    No, if you look at the record, support for the tobacco companies and their products has been widely bipartisan. It’s not an ideological issue, except perhaps the issue of smoking bans on which there is an individual liberty argument to be made by those who believe in liberty – mostly folks on the right.

    Liberals said that seat belts are good for you…and the cons claimed that they were an ‘infringement of liberty’ and they’re bad for you!

    Show me ONE example of a conservative arguing that seat belts are dangerous. And again, this is a civil liberties issue and one in which those who argue the right not to use a seatbelt remain in the right. You seem to have fully embraced the new anti-liberty fascism of the left.

    Liberals have been pushing green power since the seventies…and as for the cons – what happened to the solar panels on the White House when Reagan took office?

    They were shipped to a college in Maine where they are still in use. They were removed by Reagan because they weren’t heating enough water for the demands of the White House, not because he was against solar power. Subsequently, George W. Bush (not Clinton, not Obama) installed photovoltaic panels in 2003 which are still in use, but apparently not very efficient.

    Liberals want equal rights for homosexuals…but most conservatives think that’s an abomination.

    Do you ever stop lying? Most conservatives (or at least those who identify as Republicans) also want equal rights for homosexuals — check the polls. They just think that rights don’t include the government dictating a redefinition of the term “marriage” therefore they support civil unions and full legal equality.

    Liberals (and even some conservatives) were strongly for civil rights…but the strongest opposition to the Civil Rights Act came from Southern conservatives.

    Conservatives of a variety and from an era which no longer exists. Conservative democrats who either became more liberal or abandoned opposition to civil rights while remaining conservative on other issues. Or in many cases who realized they could keep minorities oppressed through a welfare state far more effectively than with jim crow laws.

    Most liberals know that evolution is a fact…and those who favor teaching creationism in schools are almost exclusively conservative.

    Actually, evolution is a theory, not a fact, and is a theory which is undergoing substantial revision as we sit here as the neo-lamarckians come into the ascendancy and Darwinism is being adjusted to account for recent discoveries in genetics.

    Most liberals believe that global warming is a scientific fact…but most conservatives search for something, ANYthing however specious to deny the science that proves global warming.

    And the conservatives who have taken the proper scientific approach of skepticism are now being proven correct as even leading GW advocate Michael Mann is admitting that GW is part of a natural cycle and not the result of human activity. So in this case leftists have been the ones who are dogmatic and unscientific.

    At least since the 1970’s significantly more congressional Republicans have been involved in scandals (criminal, political, or sex) than Democrats…even when the Republicans were in the minority. This is despite the Republicans’ self-proclaimed superiority in ‘family values’.

    So? I’d rather have Larry Craig in office with a butt plug and a tutu voting against bailouts than some moralistic prig who wants to take away my rights and bankrupt the nation.

    What I’m getting to, Zedd, is that the conservatives – and particularly the Republicans – could care less about hard-and-fast numbers, about history, about FACT…

    And since every one of your points is basically a lie, how seriously should we take you?

    unless it’s something that supports what they believe. Otherwise, to hard-line conservatives, facts are just something to be ignored.

    Does that make you a hard-line conservative, or just a propagandist?

    Dave

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    Each candidate states their objectives. No need for the hoopla. What you are suggesting ends up contributing to a divided country; a society of us against them. Keep it simple. Vote for the guy with the ideas that resonate with your principles. Is that so complicated?

  • Zedd

    And since every one of your points is basically a lie, how seriously should we take you?

    Saying “you lie” doesn’t make what was said a lie. It just cheapens the significance of a lie. If you make that claim, be prepared to explain what the lie is.

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    On the “We hate big government” thingy. How many people have you hear EVER state they love big government? It’s a non position. It does nothing and means nothing. Reps don’t (AND CANT in a modern society)live up to that small government declaration. So it’s a pointless statement. We have a huge infrastructure. We are a huge nation. We are big, sorry! Get over it. Now can you come up with ways for us to be the best at as much as we can be good at. Instead of waisting our time with meaningless proclamations.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Agree with you there – it’s just a smokescreen for not having any relevant idea/s to begin with. The world and America have changed since the Declaration of Independence and to speak of small or big government in the face of the complexities we face is not only unproductive but unrealistic. We must try to do best with the situation we’re in, not dream of the past which is no longer retrievable.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I was surprised by the relatively mild nature of the ‘purity test.’ Quite a few swing-district Democrats could pass it easily. Including the DOMA [and offensive] is gratuitous but predictable.

    But the fact that any Republicans at all think this might be a good idea does make one wonder where the party is going. They don’t trust each other because someone might think too independently?

    And the result could be that they would continue to lose in swing districts. If winning elections is a prime goal of the party, then this represents a losing attitude. The Dems’ majority in 2006 and 2008 came in part from enlarging their tent and rejecting the idea of ‘purity.’

  • Lumpy

    If republicans can’t shrink government – and I think and pray that u are wrong – then we are doomed as a nation. We need to redefine our national priorities so that smaller and responsible government is at the top and the left’s culture of handouts and bailouts is just gone.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    And since every one of your points is basically a lie, how seriously should we take you?

    Hm. Gee, Dave – I notice that you provided no proof or references. Neither did I, but UNLIKE YOU, I have shown the inclination and effort to be able to back up what I post with credible references.

    Every single time I’ve been proven wrong about something, I’ve publicly owned up to it and was sincerely grateful to those who pointed out my error. Can you say the same? No.

    So I will go through I and I will back up with credible references every single one of my claims that you called ‘lies’…and then we will see if you have the intestinal fortitude to do what someone SHOULD do when shown that they have publicly made a false accusation.

    As for myself, if I am in error, I will continue to uphold my own integrity by admission, apology, and gratitude as I have always done on BC. I can’t call myself honorable – a man should never make such a claim of oneself – but I do know that honor demands upholding one’s integrity.

    I will post my reply on Monday. See you then.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    As usual, this thread has gotten a little whacky.

    First, I fully agree with Dave regarding the so called “purity test.” The best thing that can happen with that test for Reps is that it just die a quiet death, lost in the shuffle of new and ongoing events. It is just patently stupid.

    There was a time when the Republican party was at least rational. I did then and continue to oppose most of its positions, but the entire party hierarchy has at least since the dawn of the GWB era, devolved into a mish-mash of phony moralism and self- righteous blather. Again, I believe the Reps are still paying the price for wooing the religious fundies into the fold to push Bush over the top. They have taken over the right side of the congressional aisles like a bad rash. Most have proven to be an utter embarrassment.

    It’s been stated that the purity test is built upon Reaganism, when it actually appears that Reagan himself would not pass muster on a number of the items in the test.

    I must agree with Roger that so called “small government” is little more than a pipe dream of a long forgotten era. Whenever government has stepped back via deregulation allowing a more hands off relationship between itself and the private sector, the latter inevitably abuses the privilege. Big business, banking and industry simply cannot be trusted. It is they, not government that is the problem. It is they who allow greed to rule the day. Nothing matters but the bottom line.

    Dave sees unfettered capitalism as the pure heart of our country. But the abuses of the capitalist system by business interests render it no more viable than pure socialism. Each depends on the “purity” of its practitioners.

    Well, we ain’t pure. As long as the oligarchy of the rich maintains its boot on the throat of the rest of us, government oversite, as imperfect as it is, is the ONLY referee we have.

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Hm. Gee, Dave – I notice that you provided no proof or references.

    I provided the exactly number of references you did for your original assertions, except that I know mine are based on fact and I know that yours are not.

    Neither did I, but UNLIKE YOU, I have shown the inclination and effort to be able to back up what I post with credible references.

    Spare me. When I write articles they always have links to relevant sources.

    Every single time I’ve been proven wrong about something, I’ve publicly owned up to it and was sincerely grateful to those who pointed out my error. Can you say the same? No.

    Just the other day you were heaping on the false praise about how I was one of only a couple of right-leaning posters who did acknowledge their errors. But I guess your memory is selective.

    So I will go through I and I will back up with credible references every single one of my claims that you called ‘lies’…and then we will see if you have the intestinal fortitude to do what someone SHOULD do when shown that they have publicly made a false accusation.

    I’m sure you can redefine and qualify your statements and come up with some sort of justification, but it really doesn’t change the basic fact that you’ll use any kind of smear or distortion in your partisan vindictiveness.

    As for myself, if I am in error, I will continue to uphold my own integrity by admission, apology, and gratitude as I have always done on BC. I can’t call myself honorable – a man should never make such a claim of oneself – but I do know that honor demands upholding one’s integrity.

    As far as I can tell you’re just becoming increasingly shrill and hostile as you see the utter failure of the Democratic socialist cabal who have sold out this country and who you still remain desperately loyal to.

    I will post my reply on Monday. See you then.

    Please don’t waste our time.

    Dave

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Dave, between you and Glenn, it is you by a distance of miles that is coming across as “shrill and hostile”.

    And what’s with the use of the word “our” as in “please don’t waste our time”? Who exactly do you think you’re speaking for other than possibly the voices in your head?

    I disagree with Glenn about a lot of things, especially his wacky religion, but you are sounding more and more like that other great self-delusionist, our virtual chum Ruvy, which is undermining those of your political opinions which actually have some positives about them.

    Baritone, it is good to see you making yet another sensible contribution to the mundo bizarro that is the Blogcritics politics section.

    Until political and commercial perspectives emerge that considers the needs of all those involved, not just one faction or another, no pure doctrine can or should be trusted or supported.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Chris, you know exactly how seriously I take your opinions, but thanks for chiming in.

    I’m intrigued about Glenn’s “wacky religion” — I guess I missed it. Is he a Scientologist?

    Dave

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    In support of the author’s main idea:

    The GOP’s Suicide Pact

  • Baronius

    Zedd and Roger (hi Rog!) have declared that the era of small government is over. Why? Government can be any size we choose, at any level of aggregation we choose. There doesn’t have to be an Interstate highway system, for example. States can coordinate amongst themselves. So our infrastructure doesn’t compel us to have a big government.

    In the past couple of decades, there have really been only two efforts to reduce the size/role of government: the 1990’s “peace dividend” and welfare reform. Both were reasonably successful. I wish there were more examples, but those should demonstrate that government can be made smaller.

    But what’s the best size for government? Sure, we can make it smaller or bigger, but what’s just right? Everyone’s answer is different. So you can’t talk about the best size. Since government is compulsory, we should err on the smaller side.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Hi, Baronius:

    Yes, it is a reasonable argument. And I will always favor decentralization against centralization, that goes without saying. I just don’t believe anymore that our present political system is salvageable. It would take a great deal of good will and cooperation between the divided nation and power-hungry politicians to arrive at equitable solutions whilst all the pressures toward ever-increasing globalization – economic and political – keep on mounting. The entire history of the human race argues against exercise of reason and the spirit of cooperation. We are forced to act but only by events, not out of foresight. And by then, the old configuration is changed beyond recognition, and that’s what I envisage in the present case.

    So yes, what I do foresee is the coming of a global, world government. And then, the formation of smaller, autonomous communities within the larger framework. And that’s the best case scenario.

  • Baronius

    So, you don’t think that big government is good, but inevitable. Is it something worth fighting?

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Dave, I’m aware you are extremely arrogant and attempt to patronise anyone who doesn’t agree with you, although you can’t pull it off because your dated ideology always makes you sound as sensible as Ruvy.

    It is presumably that arrogance and inability to actually listen to other people that has stopped you ever noticing Glenn’s faithism.

    Given that quirkiness, he has actually demonstrated a greater humility and commitment to the truth than you have ever managed, despite your lip service to the facts of a matter, which is quite ironic.

    It can only be a testament (lol) to the wonder that is Blogcritics comments space that I find myself more often in agreement with a faithist than a fellow non-believer.

  • Arch Conservative

    “It is presumably that arrogance and inability to actually listen to other people that has stopped you ever noticing Glenn’s faithism.”

    I don’t know about Nalle but I’ve found that taking the time to give serious consideration to idiots is way overrated.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    That is why most people ignore you Arch…

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle


    It is presumably that arrogance and inability to actually listen to other people that has stopped you ever noticing Glenn’s faithism.

    I confess that having no interest in his religious beliefs, I’m sure that if the issue ever came up I probably ignored it

    Given that quirkiness, he has actually demonstrated a greater humility and commitment to the truth than you have ever managed, despite your lip service to the facts of a matter, which is quite ironic.

    Since the “truth” is subjective and his truth is likely to be similar to your truth, I find your typically biased observation unsurprising.

    It can only be a testament (lol) to the wonder that is Blogcritics comments space that I find myself more often in agreement with a faithist than a fellow non-believer.

    Or are you a fellow non-believers? You may not share his religious faith, but you clearly share some of his laughable political delusions.

    Dave

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Dave, you really are so increasingly petty and trivial it is embarrassing. I am staggered that you are entrusted with the political position you hold.

    Noticing Glenn’s beliefs takes no more than simply reading his comments. As you are regularly debating with him in the comments space, one assumes you have actually read his words before responding to him.

    If you don’t read what he has to say, then your responses to him are ignorant dogma; if you do and fail to take in what he says, they are worthless dogma. Either way, you end up looking arrogant and foolish.

    Unlike you, I’ve never made any secret of my biases. And, also unlike you, I know the difference between bias and prejudice and which is acceptable…

    I’ve no idea what the sentence “Or are you a fellow non-believers?” actually means. Do you?

    You’re the one with the delusions, as your complete inability to respond meaningfully to any of the points raised demonstrates so eloquently.

    Your political views are all about twenty years out of date and your perpetual snideness is simply symptomatic of your inability to be relevant to the debate or the times we are living in.

    You are acting like some bewildered old man left behind by the times who has nothing left but impotent rage and petty insults.

    That would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic. I’d consult my doctor if I was acting like that, but you will probably insist, once again, that the fault lies not with you.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I think Rose’s comment, Baronius, provides a kind of occasion to take the ball further.

    First, I don’t believe that the kinds of problems facing humanity today, nor their magnitude, are solvable other than through highly centralized governments. I shall not bother to go through the laundry list, but environmental problems are just an example. In general, one thinks here of “externalities” which the free-market economics is not capable of solving. (If you need references, I can provide them in a separate post.)

    In short, the point is that we’re quickly becoming a global village and that only a concerted, centralized effort, coupled with cooperation, provides the only kind of political configuration capable of guaranteeing a proper and effective human response. Decentralization, though always desirable, would only accentuate and promote disunity rather then unity, dissensus rather then consensus – and honestly, I don’t think we can afford such a division right now.

    So if there is a proper time for decentralization, it must come later, within some kind of general and unified political framework.

  • zingzing

    chris, go look up nixon’s “southern strategy,” which dave said (on another thread) was “about states’ rights,” and not flat-out racism (or at least a manipulation of racism to gather up more votes in the south). just another example of his terrible, terrible delusions. i can’t even believe he wrote that with a straight face. if so, that’s just disturbing.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    It will be Friday, not Monday.

    Chris –

    Thanks – that’s a true compliment.

  • Baronius

    Roger, then you do support a strong centralized government (even though you don’t like it).

    Chris, you might want to address the substance of the comments you disagree with, rather than the personalities of those who make them.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I see it more as a matter of timing, and of necessity, rather than personal preferences. I believe that nation-states had had it and that we’re entering another epoch of history.

  • zingzing

    unfortunately, roger, there’s too much damn religion for that to happen, at least without a “civil” war within a short amount of time. i’d bet the conservatives of america would find themselves with more in common with the likes of the taliban than they would with the rest of western civilization. oooh.

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Funny isn’t it how conservatives want to shrink the government and give it less powers unless it has to do with “moral issues” or whether or not some Texan can hunt armadillos with assault rifles and armor piercing bullets.

    well maybe funny’s not the word.

    hypocritical might fit better

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Maybe Mr. Rose is waiting for Mr. Nalle to make up his mind if he’s a closet republican instead of a liberatarian.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Did you say a closet gay? Oy vey!

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    Um, I believe I said closet republican, which is quite obvious that he is, disguised as a Liberatarian thinking that’ll give him “street cred” at being politically independant.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    The entire history of the human race argues against exercise of reason and the spirit of cooperation.

    The entire history, Roger? I just watched an episode of Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World called Kalahari. You should see that. There are a wonderful tribal people he visits. He actually starts crying. And when he asks for a piece of important advice he might take back into his world with him, the advice given is an example that contradicts your statement there. There are contemporary cultures which are not dominators.

    Also, I think family life and all kinds of friendship and cooperative activities contradicts that statement as well. What seems to stand in the way to me isn’t the impossibility of reason and cooperation, but the belief in the impossibility of reason and cooperation.

    I wrote somewhere recently that a 16 year old boy told me the same thing and it reminds me again to study more closely at what age that notion is indoctrinated into children.

    On another topic, this recent post at the Zero Anthropology blog might interest you: The Social Production of Science and Anthropology as Knowledge for Domination.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Um, I believe I said closet republican, which is quite obvious that he is, disguised as a Liberatarian thinking that’ll give him “street cred” at being politically independant.

    Jet, I’m the chairman of an organization with “Republican” in the title. I’m hardly “in the closet” as a Republican. But you can, in fact, be a Republican as well as a libertarian — lots of us are.

    But, of course, as Christopher points out, we’re “20 years behind the times” because liberty and responsible government and capitalism are ever so out of fashion.

    And Roger, you stand unveiled as an unrepentant statist. Your vision of a “global village” is a vision of an ant mound where everyone is a worker whose individuality is sacrificed for the good of the state. It’s exactly what must be fought against. It’s what so many in Europe are finally rejecting and that same awakening is coming here as well. I hope it’s not too late.

    Dave

  • http://jetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Jet Gardner

    But Dave, how can I be a democrat and not be a socialist and a nazi? I’m beginning to have an identity crisis here if I believe all that you’ve written.

    You wouldn’t write anything to mislead me would you?

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    The point is that what is most important is the usefulness of the government and not the size of it. If a government is small but doesn’t meet the needs of its people, then it is useless, would you not agree? We would then have to conclude that the smallness of that government is not beneficial to that state. Therefore smallness does not insure the effectiveness of a government. Size is not the factor to be considered in evaluating the effectiveness of a government. What should be considered is the quality of life of that government’s citizens and how efficiently the services are being rendered to those citizens. A crude example would be that of a waist management system. A small infrastructure may involve people “going” outside to do their business. There would be no tax dollars necessary, no high level, mid and low level administration, no scientists, no skilled or unskilled labor needed, no use of energy or Civil Engineers, Computer Technicians of all levels, just us and nature; a small system. However because of the need to insure a more efficient infrastructure we have a complex network. Small would be doable and perhaps even cheap but small in this regard would be messy, inconvenient, perhaps even unhealthy and it would certainly impacting the quality of our lives. Managing waist would be a major daily concern for every citizen. Our huge infrastructure insures that we don’t have to think about how that system is managed, we are liberated to pursue other interests.

    When looking at governments we have to consider their utility (what the founding fathers had to ponder). What is important is whether the state is as just as it can be; does it provide safety, fairness and the clear the way for the pursuit of happiness. How it does that goes far beyond the issue of its size. The fundamental matter is whether it does that WELL, under the legal framework that we have established. In some cases small works in others it doesn’t.

  • http://woodnotwood.blogspot.com A Geek Girl

    The Scozzafava affair was a shot across the bow within the ranks. I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering when the GOP became an exclusive club.

    My senator, Johnny Isakson, is one of the most conservative Republicans in the Senate and he had no problem calling Palin’s ‘Death Panel’ interpretation of the End of Life Planning Act (that he co-sponsored) “nuts”. I can’t wait to see what he says about this.

    Honestly, it makes no sense to disenfranchise leaders who are trusted by their constituents. How can they ever support a party who doesn’t support them?

    It looks like someone misconstrued the battlecry of Divide and Conquer. But it is going to be a battle–and someone will have to win.

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    Welfare reform was not about reducing the size of government, it was about making the government more efficient. These are two very different things. There were people on the roles who didn’t need to be on the roles. We were paying for something that we didn’t need to pay for. That was inefficient.

    Conversely, setting up oversight over certain industries may cause an increase in government employees but it may also be a more efficient solution. Having certain regulatory systems may have prevented the mortgage crises, for example.

    Again, what is relevant is not the size of the government but it’s usefulness to it’s citizens. Utility and size correspond according on the task at hand.

    The government is us. We cant arbitrarily limit ourselves as to how many people we will use to accomplish a task for us. Man power is dictated by the task.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Basically then, if I’m interpreting Zedd correctly, a smaller government having less oversight and regulatory authority, will leave us to live in a veritable sea of shit.

    Sounds right to me. :D

    B

  • Baronius

    OK, Zedd, let’s move on to the question of efficiency. There are two types of efficiency, allocative and adaptive. You’re talking about allocative efficiency, the proper distribution of resources to a problem. A strong centralized authority may improve allocation of resources, especially in cases of standardization. Decentralized organizations have more expertise. So on this aspect of efficiency, the optimal size of an organization depends on the situation.

    Large organizations are terrible when it comes to adaptive efficiency. They can’t anticipate or adjust. The SEC’s failure to respond to new debt packaging led to a financial meltdown. GM is still making SUV’s. Jack always kills the giant at the top of the beanstalk because he’s faster.

  • http://www.nationalbroadside.com Dave Nalle

    Zedd, the way I see it what we need is a government which is made smaller by focusing exclusively on the services which we really need government to perform, and that includes necessary regulation because that is one of the primary, legitimate functions of government. What we don’t need is a huge bureaucracy whose primary purpose is the redistribution of money from taxpayers to favored industries and groups, and in one way or another that makes up about 80% of what government currently does.

    Reglating is inexpensive. It’s all the other crap our government has gotten into which is costly.

    Dave

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Our defense expenditures equal those of all the rest of the world combined. They consume a huge chunk of tax revenue — maybe 40%.

    That would be a good place to start shrinking government.

    The only other parts of government of really comparable size are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

    The health care bill, caricatured by many as profligate spending, actually attempts to rein in Medicare growth in the long term. More could [and eventually will have to] be done, but it’s a start.

  • Zedd

    Baronius,

    We all knew that the meltdown was coming. Everyone who kept up with economic news, knew that at some point the bubble was going to burst. No one knew how bad things would get but we knew that things would be falling apart soon.

    What is difficult about a large entity is that it becomes too large to fail. I’ve got a great point here but I’m getting sleepy and I am already having jumpy cursur issues which impact the quality of my posts, I don’t want to add grogginess to the equation. You’ll never get what I’m saying then.

    Dave,

    I get what you are saying but would like to explore why small HAS to be an answer. I’m sleepy for now so I’ll catch you later.

  • Baronius

    Handy, defense is about 20% of our budget. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are each another 20%.

  • jayhawker9

    Evolution is a *fact* someone needs an education in what terms mean in science exposition.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    The larger figure includes the following items, not strictly DoD/Pentagon expenditures:

    Nuclear weapons research, maintenance, cleanup, and production, which is in the Department of Energy budget, Veterans Affairs, the Treasury Department’s payments in pensions to military retirees and widows and their families (an amount not disclosed on official statistics), interest on debt incurred in past wars, or State Department financing of foreign arms sales and militarily-related development assistance. …[also] defense spending that is not military in nature, such as the Department of Homeland Security, counter-terrorism spending by the FBI, and intelligence-gathering spending by NASA.
    [from Wikipedia]

  • Baronius

    National Review Online just posted an editorial opposing the “purity test”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Could you provide the link?

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Log Cabin Republicans take note, this purity test is a mechanism to rid you from the GOP. I’ve been hot on this Uganda issue and how GOP operatives in concert with Far Right Christian Taliban are promoting this law to make homosexuality punishable by death. This is a serious issue. While I don’t advocate Americans sticking their noses in other countries’ domestic policies, this is an issue on which I will not waver. This cause is not limited to the GOP. Bart Stupak, a Democrat, is also a part of this back door support of evangelicals in Uganda.

    When GOP leadership and American evangelicals team up and insinuate themselves into Ugandan politics how is that different from what we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? What they’re doing is committing a genocide, of sorts, of the homosexual community. Unfortunately, because these are homosexuals, there’s no outrage at this advocacy of murder.

    So, the bottom line? Bart Stupak, John Ensign, James Inhoffe, Tom Coburn, Mark Sanford, Joe Pitts and Sam Brownback are all avid followers of C Street. They all oppose abortion calling it murder. Yet they all support and promote Ugandan organizations which support the wholesale slaughter of homosexuals. Pastor Rick Warren, the so called conciliator, is another sponsor of murder. If they can’t get their way in the United States, they will infiltrate themselves in Africa.

  • http://delibernation.com Silas Kain

    Here’s the National Review purity test review, Roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Thanks, Silas. Apparently, you’re a subscriber since I could not access any of the articles or editorials.