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Republicans Have Core Principles   April 29th, 2009
Democrat comments suggest they don't       


More observations...

An interesting quote I read last night in response to Specter's move to the Democratic party would seem to suggest that the concept of "core principles" is foreign to them.

State Democratic Chairman T.J. Rooney said Specter's decision to run for a sixth term as a Democrat "speaks volumes about where the two parties are, not only in America but particularly in our state."

The GOP requires a "litmus test" to determine whether prospective candidates are conservative enough, Rooney said. "If they're not pure enough, they're not welcome."

The term "litmus test" certainly carries negative connotations that Rooney was certainly aiming for. But if you simply replace "litmus test" with "core principles" then he's right. Republicans do have a set of core principles and if you don't subscribe to them, not surprisingly, you aren't really a Republican. Is that supposed to be controversial?

It got me to thinking. Neither party is entirely "pure." On both sides there are people that are pro-life and there are those that are pro-abortion. There are people that are in favor of and opposed to gay marriage or civil unions. There are people that support the War in Iraq and there are people that don't. Certainly specific beliefs congregate with one party or the other, but both sides of all those issues are represented in both parties.

But where Republicans do seem to agree is on the core principle of fiscal conservatism. Where Republicans got into trouble is abandoning that core principle under President Bush. He got it half right with tax cuts but he didn't apply the equally important aspect of fiscal conservatism which is limited government through reduced spending. John McCain was the same in that sense: It wasn't at all clear that he was fiscally conservative, especially after voting for the $700 billion TARP bailout.

So it should not be surprising that few Republicans are shedding any tears over Arlen Specter's official departure. Specter, like President Bush, was missing that core Republican principle of fiscal conservatism. And that core principle is leading to the New Republican Revolution which is why people like Specter really don't have a place in the party. There's room in the Republican party to struggle over a number of social issues but there's really no room for someone who isn't fiscally conservative. That's just not negotiable. That really seems to be what makes a Republican a Republican.

Democrats, on the other hand, don't seem to have any core principles. Like Republicans, all sides of social issues are represented. But unlike Republicans they don't seem to have even a single core principle: Blue Dog Democrats are fiscally conservative. Which means that, really, anyone can be a Democrat regardless of their beliefs. And what's the point of a political party that doesn't stand for anything? Just political power, I guess.

Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) effectively confirms this:

"The Democratic caucus is not homogenous. [There is a] lot of disagreement in the Democratic caucus, so this idea that it's some great watershed event ... I don't think so."

Why is there a lot of disagreement in the Democratic caucus? Precisely because the Democratic caucus doesn't have core principles. Anyone can join. Which might sound nice and inclusive, but it doesn't make for a principled party. The Democratic party stands for everything and nothing simultaneously.

I'm happy to say that Republicans do have core principles and the party does stand for something. I'm not going to apologize for that. And, honestly, I find it somewhat curious that having principles is something that Democratic State Chairman Rooney finds worthy of mocking.

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