I'm reading Bob Novak's excellent tome, The Prince of Darkness, and wanted to share this story from the book. I think it demonstrates the constant tension in the GOP between the conservative activists and the "insiders."
This particular exchange took place in 1984, between Drew Lewis, the White House agent on the party platform, and Novak's wife, Geraldine. The topic was whether or not to keep a Pro-Life plank in the GOP platform:
Lewis abruptly turned to Geraldine, whom he had never met before. "Now, Mrs. Novak," he said, "Surely you favor exemptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, don't you." Geraldine detested political debate, and I'm sure she would rather have been anywhere else. But she was asked a direct question and answered it: "No, I don't." "You are not in favor of any exemptions?" Lewis persisted. "No." "Not even for the life of the mother?" "No," she insisted. A moment of silence followed, before an embarrassed Lewis told my wife: "Well, that's your opinion, and stick to it." Lewis had no idea my wife was a prolife activist doing volunteer work for the National Right to Life Committee. I could not have been more proud of her courageous stand taken with a couple dozen pairs of eyes fixed on her.
... First, I had no idea Novak's wife was a prolife activist. But here's the part I think is relevant to the point about the dichotomy between the GOP and grassroots activists:
Drew symbolized corporate executives, lawyers, lobbyists, and campaign consultants who were trying to plane down the new Republican Party's rough edges. Geraldine typified new Republicans who were loyal to Reagan but not to Reagan's aides. She had come to Washington twenty-four years earlier as a born-and-bred Texas Democrat, a twenty-three-year-old secretary on Lyndon B. Johnson's staff. She had changed her registration to Republican mainly because of abortion. If the Republican Party abandoned her on this issue, I knew she would abandon the Republican Party. I'm not sure that Drew Lewis fully understood that.
It's funny how things never change.