Is the VA GOP on the verge of a meltdown?

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Fellow ODBA blogger Norm Leahy has a post where he discusses a Style Weekly story on the allegedly pending doom facing the Republican Party of Virginia. Norm and Chad are both quoted in the story.

Respected Liberal blogger Waldo Jaquith also comments on the story, explaining his view that “radicals” (I suppose he’d say that’s us, huh?) are going to cost the GOP its majority. While I categorically reject his conclusion he does make a good point in recognizing the division among Republicans- it too is worth a read.

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I know you reject my conclusions -- that's why I have no worries "providing aid and comfort to the enemies," as some of my particularly partisan friends might put it. :)

The same lecture applies to many of my uber-liberal friends. These people honestly believe that Kerry and Gore lost because they weren't liberal enough, and that if we just put somebody out there who is really, really far to the left, that of course we'd win. That's crazy. It's just as crazy as running candidates who verge on libertarian on fiscal issues and fascist on social issues (I'm thinking bedroom laws here) and being surprised when they lose.

It's a centrist state. Folks like you and me who are farther to either side are the exception, not the rule -- we need to recognize that some of our own views cannot and should not be universalized.

Singleton said:

What's the point in holding a view that you do not think is true (translation: should not be part of the law)?

Wow. That's, like, the opposite of conservatism. I believe that we should have less laws. Don't you?

I believe in non-violence, but a nation that outlawed its military would cease to exist within a very brief time. I believe that smoking is a filthy habit, but I don't propose that it be outlawed. I believe that responsible citizens should own firearms, but I don't think that should be mandated. (Contrast that with my first belief; good luck reconciling them, because I can't.)

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of being able to separate one's own views and belief structure from the role of government, and recognizing when one's belief's are not universalizable. This is the core of conservatism, as any good Libertarian will tell you.

Singleton said:

I referenced "the law" as the body of all law, not the idea that we should have more laws.

You seem to confuse libertarianism with conservatism. Libertarians generally believe that creating more laws is bad, but conservatives believe that laws are fine as long as they do such things as preserve traditional values, the free market, and etc. If you're listening to libertarians for what it means to be a conservative, this is perhaps from where your confusion and erratic viewpoints stem.

I think you mistake compromise with relativism. When we have a government that is split like VA's, each side must concede at times in order to govern. However, only a fool would give up his belief that the laws should be a certain way. This sort of relativistic defeatism would be the death of a political party.

If you want to know why the Republican Party is on the decline in Virginia, you need look no further than the idea that government exists to promote and enforce individual beliefs. Once upon a time, Republicans believed in small government. Fiscal conservatism and government-enforced social conservatism are mutually exclusive; that's the lesson of the split in the RPV today.

Sophrosyne said:

Waldo, interesting points... and much appreciated.

I agree with you that we should have the minimal amount of legislation possible and I do so because I believe government is a lumbering beast that rarely does much good. As Reagan once said: "The nine most dangerous words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" Republicans in Virginia for the most part also still believe this (not clear on your distinction between an “individual” belief and a belief that is what, communal?… who draws that line?)

I think the single greatest point where we fundamentally disagree is not on the fact that fringe radicals (left and right) have a harder time getting elected (without getting into the dialogue between you and Singleton regarding the merits of said “radicals” legislatively promoting their own viewpoints) I doubt anyone would contest that. I believe we disagree on where that “fringe” is and where Virginia’s “center” is.

NOVA Townhall’s own mission statement proclaims that we basically believe in “promoting the conservative values of free enterprise, smaller government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” (and I realize this is an extremely broad simplification but it’ll have to do for now… we’ll have future posts fleshing out what it means to be a mainstream conservative). Is this very far to the right of mainstream Virginia voters? Nay, I contend this describes what most of Virginia’s voters embrace.

I think some more liberal Republicans (who describe themselves as moderates) want to change what it means to be a Republican simply because there have been some bad election results (results that I believe were in part a result of a watered-down conservative message and confusion about what it means to be a Republican). These “moderates” love to slander and smear every traditional principled conservative as some “far far right extremist” and have in a sense created this division you (and Style Weekly) discuss. We conservatives haven’t moved one inch and we continue to cherish the traditional Reagan Republican values (low taxes, protecting the unborn, strong families with a mother and a father for their children, etc) that are solidly supported by the Virginia electorate. The demise of the VA GOP would occur only if the liberal Republicans are successful in watering down the GOP “brand” and uprooting the party from the core values that have led to it’s success.

Disclaimer: Of course I am not saying that all that is necessary for success at the ballot box is someone to trumpet their dedication to protecting the unborn or marriage… we still need to recruit bright candidates who are well connected to their community and they need to talk about other “non-ideological” issues such as transportation, etc. They just need to do all of this AND remain committed to the core values of the GOP, not to the exclusion of them, as some “moderate” Republicans would contend.

James Young said:

Waldo's a nice guy, and less wacky than most of those with whom he associates, but he has this precisely wrong. Republicans in Virginia have consistently won by being principled Conservatives, while Liberals have only won by hiding their Liberal credentials and posing as "moderates."

Sophrosyne said:

Exactly, well put James.

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