I chuckled ruefully when I read a fundraising e-mail from GOP Chairman Michael Steele overflowing with outrage about Arlen Specter's switch to the Democratic Party. In it Steele says that "Arlen Specter committed a purely political and self-serving act. He simply believes he has a better chance of saving his political hide and his job as a Democrat. … Arlen Specter has put his loyalty to his own political career above his duty to his state and nation."
I couldn't help but think of Michael Steele's interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace as he took the reins of the RNC, in which he declared, "I wanted to make it very clear from the very beginning, my goal is to move this party forward. We're in the business of winning elections. And so I'm expecting my grass-roots, my state parties, the national organization to get on board, to get on the page that is a winning page and move forward." Now he faults Specter for taking this very attitude. Specter might say: "My goal is to move myself forward. I'm in the business of winning elections. I expect this switch to put me on the page that is a winning page."
As I pointed out in an article I posted shortly after the Wallace interview, Steele makes clear to Wallace that his aim is to make the Republican Party a happy home for politicians with Specter's views. While mouthing throwaway lines with ornamental references to principle, he announces that issues of constitutional and moral principle will be thrown off the Republican bus while the party focuses on economic issues, which he called the "80-percent issues out there that we can work with those within our party and outside our party and create a new bridge and a new opportunity."
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Steele has no problem sacrificing principle in order to keep politicians like Specter in the GOP ranks. He sees them as the key to victory and he has made it clear that, as far as he's concerned, winning is the only thing that matters. Unfortunately for him, Specter's switch is entirely consistent with that principle. Specter has rightly concluded that Republican primary voters will reject him in 2010, as they would have in 2004 had it not been for the help he received from Rick Santorum and others who put party loyalty above their commitment to the nation's fundamental moral principles. By running as a Democrat, Specter feels that he stands a better chance of winning the general election. As far as principle goes, the only difference between Specter and Steele is that Specter will now reach for victory while being true to his leftist views. Meantime, the Michael Steele Republicans, as they fume over his desertion, further demonstrate their willingness to seek victory by betraying the party's supposed conservatism.
Given this demonstration, principled conservatives would do well to consider the real lesson of Specter's departure from the Republican ranks. Despite all their whoring after pro-abortion leftists like Specter, the Michael Steele Republicans suffer the fate of overage streetwalkers. Sacrificing their last shreds of decency, they have flaunted their jaded wares for those whose lust for power leads them to look for fresher prospects elsewhere. In the process they seduced politicians capable of better character (like Rick Santorum) into compromising situations that estrange them from their true political kin. I ask sincere conservatives still mesmerized by the cosmetic virtues of the Republican platform this simple question: Why are decent folk like you gawking at made-up streetwalkers when you should be elsewhere, making a home where innocent life is respected, family still means something and God's name is not treated like an obscenity? Why are you still lying to yourselves about the Steele Republicans' intentions, even as their present outrage proves how eagerly they lust after those whose only virtue is their sincere commitment to the corrupt political and moral spirit of our times?
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Arlen Specter has ended the charade of his association with the Republicans in a way that highlights the long charade of the GOP's association with conservative views and principles. Specter and the Steele Republicans have one thing in common – their passion for power. What if conservatives were as single-minded in their devotion to the Constitution and the moral principles that underlie America's liberty, strength and prosperity? I suspect that if conservatives ceased to hang their hopes on the false promises of a party obsessed with pleasing its opposite number, they would finally realize their true strength at the polls. They could in one embrace clasp principle and victory; not by continued subservience to the Republicans in name only, but by uncompromised and consistent service to the republic their name commits them to conserve.
I attended several "tea party" events last month. Apart from the large turnouts, I noticed that the prevalent concern among the crowds wasn't with partisan victory, or even with their own economic situation. It was concern about the survival of the American Constitution and American liberty. Millions of Americans realize that socialist economics, pervasive government control and rampant greed and self-indulgence are inconsistent with our survival as a free people. They reject the Obama faction's bid for unchecked power, but they also reject the unprincipled Republicans whose biggest regret is that they lost power, not that they squandered the opportunity to defend and strengthen liberty while they had it. They know that neither party represents the moral or political sovereignty of the American people.
Some conservatives think they can fix the Republican Party. However, the events of the past 20 years suggest that they are more likely to be manipulated by unprincipled Republican power addicts just looking for their next fix. I think such conservatives are focused on the wrong challenge. America must be our main concern now, not either of these self-serving, falsely labeled factions. People who believe in liberty and the Constitution must not go on being passive consumers of figurehead leadership, produced and imposed by special interests who scheme to deceive and control us, abusing our money and our confidence while in fact they serve only themselves. Just as grass-roots Americans came together for the tea party events, we must now work together to create an ongoing vehicle for citizen action that puts the people back in charge of this nation's political affairs. We must resolve to be the creators of representation whose only ambition is to serve and preserve American liberty. By so doing we will renew the effective foundations of the government of, by and for the people that we are duty bound to pass on to our offspring.