Thanks to President Obama’s appointment of John McHugh as Secretary of the Army, conservatives have the opportunity to see whether Republican leaders will stand up for conservative principles or simply fall in line behind any warm body with an ‘R’ after his or her name.
The 23rd district of New York is a Petri dish for the future of the Republican Party. There are three candidates in the race – Democrat Bill Owens, newly-crowned Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Thanks in large part to bloggers like Erick Erickson and Robert Stacy McCain, the race has garnered national attention. In the modern media era, even the most obscure election can set the motion for a conservative comeback.
Unfortunately, Republican Party leaders, both locally and nationally, have abandoned conservative principles to pursue an empty victory.
Conservative and Republican activists are angry about the appointment of the very liberal, ACORN-backed candidate Scozzafava. American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene first wrote about the race in The Hill in late September, “When New York Republicans face a special election, party leaders meet in what we used to call ‘a smoke-filled room,’ select a nominee and shove their choice down the throats of the faithful. In this traditionally Republican district, that means Republicans are today being told to rally ’round Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava — who favors card-check, abortion, gay marriage and higher taxes and thinks Congress ought to be authorizing more rather than less spending.”
Following his column, Keene and the ACU-PAC organized the first conference call with candidate Hoffman and conservative bloggers. Since then, conservatives have been paying close attention to whom their presumed leaders are endorsing. It’s no surprise that those Republicans with a modicum of power in a Democratic Congress are endorsing Scozzafava. Following disastrous elections for Republicans, now is the time when it is not only safe, but essential to our future, that leaders stand up for principle, not power.
I’ll leave it to others to criticize those who blindly endorsed Scozzafava. And I say “blindly” because I would hate to think these people have the same beliefs as Scozzafava. At this point, ignorance is their best defense. Beyond that they’re left with either endorsing her because their afraid to stand up for conservative principles or their afraid of losing small crumbs of political power. The NY-23 race is a test of political courage.
Rush Limbaugh posits that conservatism is on the ascendancy. Therefore, the focus should be on our up-and-coming leaders, not the political cowards that put Republicans in the position they are in today. Hoffman has received strong endorsements from former elected leaders like Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Fred Thompson and Steve Forbes. However, those taking the most political risk are the current elected officials that have endorsed Hoffman. It’s important that conservatives learn who these leaders are and support them in their races.
Representative Todd Tiahrt of Kansas has put forth one of the strongest endorsements for Doug Hoffman. Elected in 1994, Representative Tiahrt remembers the lessons of that era, even if Republican leaders at the time now do not. “The Republican Party will never again be a majority party until we regain the confidence of the American people,” said Tiahrt in his endorsement of Hoffman. “I believe there is room for disagreement within the party and we should not have litmus tests. However, the Republican nominee [Scozzafava] appears to have disavowed most conservative principles that are important to a vast majority of Republican voters.”
Tiahrt went on to say, “The Republican Party is either going to return to the party of fiscal responsibility and consistent conservative principles as it was under Ronald Reagan or it will continue down the path of ‘sporadic moderation.’”
One of the first elected officials to endorse Hoffman was Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Politico reported that Representative Bachmann said, “Hoffman is on the ascendancy and we need to win this seat. And people need to get behind the winning candidate, and it looks like that’s Hoffman.”
Robert Stacy McCain, blogger and reporter for The American Spectator reports that while some Republicans have not endorsed a candidate, they are speaking with their wallets. “Ninety percent of House Republican members have reportedly refused to donate to the Scozzafava campaign, and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana has notably refused to endorse her.”
True leaders are willing to risk the short-term “Republican” victory for a long-term conservative victory. The term RINO (Republican in Name Only) was coined for people like Scozzafava. Liberals in New York put forth a false choice for voters. Thankfully, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman stepped in so that those in NY-23 can have a real choice.
At the 1975 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Ronald Reagan spoke to attendees about the importance of Republicans adhering to conservative principles. He said:
“A political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers.
I do not believe I have proposed anything that is contrary to what has been considered Republican principle. It is at the same time the very basis of conservatism. It is time to reassert that principle and raise it to full view. And if there are those who cannot subscribe to these principles, then let them go their way.”