Ken Connor

An alarm has been sounded for Republicans who advocate big-government, abortion, gay marriage, and gun control: Take heed! The GOP is being taken over by (gasp!) actual conservatives!

Offering a review of Monday's debate between the four individuals vying for the mantle of RNC chair, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank first belittled, then bemoaned, the lack of ideological diversity among the candidates:

"There were two white women, two white men and the African American incumbent on the dais, but not a shade of ideological diversity. As a debate, it was about as successful as Carlson's time on Dancing With the Stars. As a cultural indicator, it was extraordinary. [Grover] Norquist and [Tucker] Carlson, serving as cardinals of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, administered a long series of loyalty checks, and the candidates were nearly dissent-free. Abortion? All opposed. Lower taxes? All in favor. Gay marriage? All opposed. Cutting spending? All in favor."

It is clear from Milbank's article that he expects his readers to be as shocked and dismayed as he is by the ideological homogeneity that seems to have infected the GOP. The question is, why? Why should Milbank or anyone else be surprised – in the wake of a staggering electoral victory fueled in no small part by a grassroots movement pushing back-to-basics constitutional conservatism – that aspiring leaders of the GOP all agree upon basic conservative principles like limited government, fiscal discipline, and support for traditional family values? The whole idea behind the party system, after all, is to provide a forum for like-minded individuals to work together in the pursuit of shared ideals, and to help the voting public discern which party best represents their own views, interests, and policy goals.

Unfortunately, in recent years this has rarely been the case. Hypocrisy – while certainly nothing new in human affairs – had badly infected the Republican Party. The party of limited government and fiscal discipline had aided and abetted an explosive growth of the size of government and the national debt, and the self-appointed guardian of traditional family values had been decimated by a string of shameful scandals.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.