SCGOP needs to shift back toward ‘big tent’

Originally uploaded by johnvierdsen

Cindi Ross Scoppe in The State has a nice postscript to the primary election season, in which we went another few rounds in the battle for control of the S.C. Republican Party. In yet another cycle, extremist forces tried to take the Party from a place of bedrock conservatism to the lunatic fringe.

It almost is as if no one on that end (friends of S.C. Club for Growth, South Carolinians for Responsible Government, Conservatives in Action, Carolinians for Change, et. al.) paid attention in any lower-level poli sci class in school.

A refresher: Political parties, especially American political parties, are mass movements. The Democrats and the GOP put roughly half the electorate under one banner and try to point them in the right direction. But, the thing is, to get a lot of people under that banner, you have to be close to the center. The American people have never embraced radicalism on a large and sustained basis.

Ergo, if you have a party that moves to the extremes with calls for ideological purity, you’re going to start losing voters, and that means losing power. Scoppe elegantly sketches this out:

The out-of-staters’ S.C. handmaidens will disagree strongly with the idea that they could be hurting the party that previous generations of actual Republicans worked so hard to build. They insist they are the political center, and that they are trying to rescue their beloved party from disaster by pulling it back from the leftist brink over which it is about to tumble. No surprise there. Moveon.org and other nut cases on the political left think they’re the political center, too. That’s what you get when you live in the echo chamber of the blogosphere, which has magnified exponentially the tendency people already have to associate only with those of like views.

What makes this purgation campaign so dangerous for the Republican Party is the fact that the motivating issue for those benefactors — vouchers, or tax credits, or whatever you want to call it — is immensely unpopular among S.C. voters. That’s why the attacks on “RINOs” tend not to mention this issue and instead focus on trumped-up charges or even outright lies about incumbent support for tax increases or “liberal judges” or wasteful spending.

Of course, there’s only so much damage a party can do to itself. Even self-inflicted wounds won’t cost the GOP much if the Democratic Party isn’t smart enough to exploit it — to start wooing the GOP moderates before they are purged, and in so doing shift itself back to the center and start making the case that the Republicans are just too radical. If Democrats don’t do that, then they deserve their political obscurity; and if they do, Republicans will have no one to blame for their loss of power but themselves.

The fact is, there are Republicans in the General Assembly that would think about switching sides, if for nothing else than not having to deal with the bullshit anymore.

For those out there (like this guy, and these guys, and this guy, and these guys, among others) who want to bounce half their party, enjoy the coming minority status and the lack of power that comes with it.

So, quit throwing your friends out of the sandbox and start playing well with others. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the Democrats look peaceful and organized in comparison.

There’s something familiar, but different, about GOP purge [The State]


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