Thanks to two cycles of conservative hardliners “teaching Republicans a lesson”, the GOP is all but irrelevant in the political process, both here in Minnesota and in Washington. Generally speaking, these hardliners didn’t work to get Republicans elected. In fact, they just took their ball and went home.

I didn’t have a New Years resolution until this morning but I’ve got one now. This year, I resolve to belittle anyone who whined about RINOs but didn’t work on a solution. I further resolve that I’ll question such people to within an inch of their life for not being solutions-oriented.

The reason I’m resolving to do these things is because these hardliners have put us in a position of legislative irrelevance. Here’s the example that I’ve cited over the weekend. Had the GOP been the majority party in the House, the disastrous transportation bill that passed wouldn’t have seen the light of day. A modest gas tax bill likely would’ve been passed instead.

Purist parties don’t have sufficient numbers to influence legislation, much less the numbers to set the agenda. That’s because the majority party controls the legislative agenda. Like Hugh Hewitt says, “Until you have the majority, you’ve got nothing.”

This post isn’t just about complaining, though. It’s also about motivating people to be part of the solution, not just part of the Whiners’ Choir. Last week, I wrote a post called Hunting the RINOhunters. It’s a post that highlights the fact that some high profile hardline conservatives have called conservatives RINOs because they didn’t vote their way on something.

The example I cited was Sue Jeffers calling Steve Gottwalt a RINO because he voted for the smoking ban bill in 2007. I then pointed out that calling Steve a RINO destroys Ms. Jeffers’ credibility because she ignored the string of health care reform proposals that relied heavily on free market principles. She also ignored Steve’s voting against every major tax increase and against the irresponsible spending bills that the DFL originally passed.

I’m told that Jason Lewis has a similar all-or-nothing mindset. At some point, hopefully in 2010, Lewis and Jeffers will use common sense and realize that letting the DFL have a veto-proof majority in the legislature serves no useful purpose. I pray that they see that they’re the ones who need to be taught a lesson. I further hope that they realize that the lesson they must learn is that we can’t afford to lose any more seats in the legislature because if we do, tons of awful legislation will get passed.

It’s time for the hardliners to become adults. It’s time they realized that they’re the reason why we’re being put in a defensive position in the legislature. It’s time that they realized that the only way to reverse this timeline to political irrelevance is by electing sufficient numbers of Republicans.

Frankly, at this point, I’d be ok if we retook the majority with some squishies. At least then we could set the agenda. That means we’d get to go on offense. It means putting the DFL on the defensive.

It’s possible for hardline conservatives to contribute to the health of the GOP without getting their way all the time. I know it’s possible because Andy Aplikowski is as hardlined a conservative as you’ll find. He fights for conservative principles every hour of every day of every year. When it’s time to elect Republicans, though, Andy gets involved in the nuts-and-bolts things that gets Republicans elected. Andy worked hard to get Republicans elected even if he personally didn’t agree with them. In the ‘offseason’, he works hard to identify people who’d make good candidates, then works on recruiting them.

That’s what adults do.

I’m not suggesting that we throw our principles away. I’m suggesting that taking a big picture view of elections will help us get more things from our agenda passed than taking a ‘tunnel-vision view’ of elections.

That’s the only path back from political irrelevance.

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11 Responses to “Isn’t Irrelevance Fun?”

  • Sam says:

    Don’t forget the Campaign for Liberty nuts who decided that the RINO Congressman in MN was John Kline and tried to lose that election too.

  • Brent says:

    I can’t believe it’s only Jan 5th and I’m already reading an amazing post like this.

    Every conservative should print it out and post it up where they can see it often.

    I’m just so sick of hearing conservatives tell me that I have to ‘vote’ for a Democrat who supports a “bailout” just because the GOP candidate supports the “bailout.” Or whatever the RINO-hater issue of the day is. conservatives win when they get more Republicans elected, not when their goal is less in number, but more ideologically pure winners.

  • J. Ewing says:

    Supposedly these conservatives “refuse to vote for RINOs” and insist that they “only vote for conservatives.” I have a bulletin for you:

    The point being you go to the election with the conservative you’ve got, conservative or not.

  • Brilliant post Mr. G.


  • Donna Foster says:

    Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you! This has been irritating me for a long time! I generally love Jason and Sue, but they do us all a disservice when they serve to create purists…especially when all of us are out here encouraging our non-political friends to tune in to KTLK for their political education. To teach people that they are entitled to Representatives that ALWAYS vote their way is irresponsible and unrealistic. Look, when your choices are bad and worse….you have and show up and vote for bad in and effort to stave off worse! That is the sad reality. This same thing happened in 1986. Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family encouraged Christian Conservatives to be purists, thus ensuring that 7 Republicans lost their seats. That turned control of the Senate over to the Democrats. In 1987, when a pro-Roe Justice resigned from the bench, Robert Bork was nominated. We all know what happened. A reliable anti-Roe voice was kept off of the bench because the loss of those 7 Senate seats altered the control of the committees in 1987. So, in 1992, when Rehnquist circulated an opinion that would have effectively overturned Roe…Bork was not there to agree. The sad fact is: Roe is still the law of the land today because of the unintended consequences of the actions of the very people who have been working tirelessly to overturn it since 1973!

    I don’t know how to include the link from this windows-based system, so you’ll have to look up the article for yourselves: American Spectator October 23, 2007, “Dr. Dobson and Justice Bork”

  • Mr. D says:

    Generally I agree with you, Gary. Still, I wonder — where do we draw the line? Was it wrong for conservatives to go after the Override Six? After all they were, ostensibly, Republicans. But as these folks demonstrated, when there was an opportunity to stop very bad legislation, they abdicated their duty. So is it realistic to support someone who betrays party and principle just because they have an “R” after their name?

    I’m all for being an adult. But having a certain amount of discipline is part of adulthood, no?

  • eric z says:

    Look on the other side. Expediency alone does not work. Elwyn Tinklenberg’s candidacy proved that.

    How the GOP balance is to be struck is for the GOP to reconcile.

    But keep the faith on demanding honesty. Both parties owe that. To their loyalists, to the other party, and to the nation.

    Outright crooks should have no place in things. Ideologues are bad enough, and with William Jefferson, Duke Cunningham gone, things better for it.

    And while I have never placed ET into that category, lobbyists and the revolving door can easily enough be avoided by either party, and the results may more than once prove such a step wise.

    Back to one of Gary’s points, each candidate is running in his/her race, his/her way. It is essentially decentralized. How then is party centrality balanced in such a context. Is there one message all can run upon, or is it each for himself/herself, but party loyalty first when it comes to organizing?

    Joe Lieberman, as a paradigm for each side? Who’s to say?

  • J. Ewing says:

    The theory, as I understand it, is that conservatives believe that if the liberals screw the country/state up bad enough, people will come to their senses and elect conservatives. Aside from the question of how badly you are willing to have the country/state screwed up by unrepentant and unchallenged liberals, the question is how you are going to win if you lose every time?

  • Tom says:

    LL: I agree with your assessment of the brillance of the post by Mr. G. It was this openness that built a viable party and broke the powerful yoke of the DFL in the Minesota County that you reaped the reward of moderates and conservatives that preceded you. What I don’t understand is your lack of understanding of the importance of welcoming all that will assist in the election of conservatives? Why did you feel that allowing an interaction between delegates and candidates can only take place at a political convention? Unfortunately your legacy continues.

  • Please enlightening me on how I am a “pseudo-Republican” Tom. I would love to hear your “logic”. Is it because I refuse to allow you to post unproven and unprovable lies about seat legislators on my site?


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