Club for Growth: Battered Republican Syndrome

Club for Growth:

I don’t know what’s wrong with people like Ramesh Ponnuru and Lindsey Graham. Over at the National Review, Ponnuru blamed the Club for pushing Specter to the Democratic Party, calling us, “The Club for Shrinkage.” Senator Graham lamented Specter’s switch-a-roo, saying, “I don’t want to be a member of the Club for Growth. I want to be a member of a vibrant national Republican Party that can attract people from all corners of the country.”

But the only person to blame for Arlen Specter’s defection is…Arlen Specter. Today, the senior senator from Pennsylvania proved that he cares about one thing and one thing only: Holding on to his thirty years of political power, no matter who he has to step on or what principles he has to trample on along the way. And yet, this is the kind of politician Ramesh Ponnuru and Sen. Graham think will help the Republican Party rebuild itself? This is the kind of “Republican” that will help the GOP regain the voters’ trust?

If anything, Arlen Specter is the epitome of everything voters have come to hate about the Republican Party-the desperate grasping for power and the complete rejection of the principles the Party claims to stand for.

These folks are buying into Arlen Specter’s argument that the Republican Party would be better off with Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, Rep. Joe Schwarz, and Sen. Lincoln Chafee instead of losing these so-called Republicans to more conservative primary challengers. Well, let’s take a look at these politicians. Sen. Lincoln Chafee is now an Independent who endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Reps. Schwarz and Gilchrest both endorsed the Democratic candidates looking to take over their seats. And all three of these politicians spent months telling primary voters that they were genuine and committed Republicans.

So instead of blaming the Club or principled folks like Pat Toomey, perhaps, Senator Graham and Ramesh Ponnuru should pin the blame on the politicians who care more about their political careers than the people they are supposed to be representing.

Arlen Specter argued today in his defection announcement that the GOP has strayed too far to the right since the days of the “Reagan Big Tent.” But if there was anyone who understood the importance of standing up for principle, it was Ronald Reagan who declared in 1976:

“A political party cannot be all things to all people. It cannot compromise its fundamental beliefs for political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers. It is not a social club or fraternity engaged in intramural contests to accumulate trophies on the mantel over the fireplace…No one can quarrel with the idea that a political party hopes it can attract a wide following, but does it do this by forsaking its basic beliefs? By blurring its own image so as to be indistinguishable from the opposition party?”

Some commentators suffer from “Battered Republican Syndrome” — they cling to liberals like Specter hoping some day the betrayals will stop. Get over it. If the Republicans are going to prosper as a political party, they must offer a consistent conservative alternative.

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