Ever on the lookout for ways to shrink the party’s tent still further, a few of the masterminds at the Republican National Committee are pushing a resolution to establish an ideological purity test for prospective GOP candidates. Those who fail on three or more of the following ten criteria would be deemed ineligible for RNC funding and endorsement:
(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 healthcare;
(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;
Beyond its exceptionally dubious prospects as a national political strategy, a few things about the document leap out. First, it demands that adherents oppose President Obama’s health care reform twice, but nowhere requires opposition to abortion (only the government funding of abortion), which is either a shocking slap in the face to social conservatives or, more likely, evidence that the compilation of this list was exactly as careless and haphazard as its stilted language suggests.
Second, in a hamfisted effort to avoid the “Party of No” label, the ten points are all framed in terms of what Republicans are expected to support. The problem is, in seven of those ten cases, they explicitly define what they support in terms of opposition to President Obama. If he’d endorsed a Senate resolution on the innocence of kittens, the document would probably have included an item on the superiority of puppies. But don’t call them reactionary!
Finally, the authors have named this document “Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates,” drawing on the former president’s semi-famous line, “My 80 percent ally is not my 20 percent enemy.” In their reading, 80 percent agreement is the floor of what Reagan would have tolerated, so if you fail more than two of their ten criteria, you’re out. Of course, this is the exact opposite of the sentiment the line--which is a plea for inclusiveness, not expulsion--was intended to convey. (In his presidential campaign, Rudy Giuliani tried to use it to paper over his differences with social conservatives.) But don’t bother trying to explain that to the RNC.