Category Archives: Minnesota

The GOP Website Red State: Is It Too Partisan? By Gregory Hilton

As an active Republican I often visit the most prominent GOP website, Red State, http://www.redstate.com. I am an enthusiastic reader of GOP success stories, but I am often disappointed in the outlook of its hyper-partisan editor, Erick Erickson. Erickson appeared on five national television programs in the past two weeks.
His main message is to condemn the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, as well as any GOP lawmaker who will compromise in an effort to pass legislation. He wants campaign issues, not public policy.
A legislator who compromises is instantly labeled a RINO – a Republican in Name Only. There are times when party unity is essential, and the recent health care debate was one of them. All Republicans were united in their opposition. Also, this often happens on national security issues where Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is usually the only GOP lawmaker to vote with the Democrats. I do not want to see Republicans cave in to Democratic demands, but I do not want to ignore our nations problems.
There was no spirit of cooperation in the health care debate and now our nation will be stuck with a very bad bill. Democrats made a mistake because the GOP alternative was constructive and would have been effective. My concern is that the Red State strategy will stop lawmakers from negotiating in the future.
John F. Kennedy was referring to the Soviet Union, but his words were wise, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” I want the GOP to win by attracting independent voters and adhering to Ronald Reagan’s inclusive “Big Tent” philosophy. I am not in favor of any Republican purity test. The party needs to be focusing on addition to our ranks while Red State is often about subtraction from the GOP base.
The lead article in today’s Red State is “Bob Bennett: An Old Dog With an Old Schtick” by Erickson. The author claims Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) is “the 8th most liberal Republican in the Senate from the most conservative state in the nation. He can and must be beaten. . . if the GOP is ever going to reclaim any credibility with the public they must stand for something other than creeping socialism. Bob Bennett must be defeated.”
Bennett has been in the Senate since 1992 and is best known as an advocate of the flat tax, free trade, and the Patriot Act. He has always been a strong opponent of public health care and has blamed government policies for the high cost of insurance. His cumulative lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 84%. His senior colleague, Orrin Hatch, has an 89% lifetime rating.
Erickson, 34, is annoyed because Senator Bennett does not agree with him that “The first duty of the opposition is to oppose.” Bennett believes “We have to be constructive,” and my recent article on the Marshall Plan emphasizes the benefits of working together in a bipartisan manner.
Unfortunately, many lawmakers in both parties no longer share that outlook. The current House and Senate is the most polarized since the Civil War, and far too many lawmakers define success by the failure of the other side. The goal is often obtaining a headline which will be embarrassing to the other side, rather than passing useful legislation.
I sincerely hope the Republican Party will make significant gains this November, but it is more important for our nation to succeed. I am opposed to practically all aspects of President Obama’s domestic agenda, but he is our Commander-in-Chief and he should be treated with respect. I am glad House Republicans are rejecting the Red State formula, and 95% of them are supporting the President’s 35,000 troop surge in Afghanistan.
Once again, I am opposed to Obamacare, but there are many essential health care reforms which have broad bipartisan support. They are being ignored in the current political climate. The cap-and-trade bill is awful, but our energy security needs should not be ignored. There will be no progress this year but I hope next year both parties will work together to advance nuclear power and off shore drilling.
There has been strong partisanship on Capitol Hill since the time of our founding fathers. This is evident in the writings of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The certainly hated each other in the early 1800s, but they had come together to form the union and were later able to resolve their differences. That rarely happens today.
Former Senator David Pryor (D-AR) held statewide office for 22 years before his 1996 retirement. In a recent interview he discussed the changes he witnessed on Capitol Hill, “It is the lack of civility that worries me. Thirty years ago we never would have thought of going into a state and campaigning against one of our colleagues. We would not do that because we worked in a bipartisan manner. It would be difficult to join someone in the Senate Dining Room after you had just campaigned against them. We were not so partisan back then.”
Pryor also noted the disappearance of “plain old good manners.” Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is typical of the atmosphere today. He recently refused to allow Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT) “a moment” to conclude his remarks. I often see this on C-SPAN where lawmakers will not allow their colleagues to finish sentences. Part of the problem is the news media which encourages lawmakers to cram high voltage criticism into a 30 second sound byte. MSNBC has made attack dogs such as freshman Rep. Allan Grayson (D-FL) into national heroes for their partisan audience.
Every committee on Capitol Hill is divided along party lines. It is now rare for state Congressional Delegations to meet. Few lawmakers sit, plan, and work together for the benefit of their state or the nation. They instead work with their political friends.
The big procedural question for the GOP in January of 2011 will be selecting a proper legislative course. They will have to decide if they want to promote legislation which advances partisan goals or solves problems. My hope is that our lawmakers will focus on solving problems.

Advertisements