The RNC’s purity test

THE RNC’S PURITY TEST…. After the party’s unpleasant experience in New York’s 23rd, Republicans hope to exclude moderates from their upcoming slate of candidates. But the commitment leads to an awkward question: who gets to decide which candidates meet the party’s ideological standards?

Don’t worry; some Republican National Committee members have a plan. It’s called the “Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates,” and it’s being circulated among RNC members in the hopes of generating party support. The litmus test was reportedly written by attorney Jim Bopp, Jr., a prominent attorney opposed to abortion rights, perhaps best known for pushing an RNC resolution that would have relabeled the Democratic Party the “Democrat Socialist Party.” (The effort failed earlier this year.)

Bopp’s purity test for Republican candidates hits most of the predictable highlights.

(1) Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill

(2) Market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run healthcare;

(3) Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

(4) Workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check

(5) Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

(6) Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

(7) Containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat

(8) Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

(9) Protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

(10) The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership

And what does this have to do with Reagan? “President Ronald Reagan believed … that someone who agreed with him 8 out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent,” the resolution states. With that in mind, if a candidate strayed from the list on three more issues, the RNC resolution, if approved, would block him/her from receiving financial support and/or official endorsements.

Complicating matters, the resolution also says that the RNC will decide whether a candidate actually agrees with eight out of 10 — merely promising to go along isn’t enough if the party doesn’t like your voting record.

It occurs to me, looking over the list, that George W. Bush would have been deemed ineligible for support from the Republican National Committee. He did, after all, increase the size of government, run enormous deficits, endorsed cap and trade, allowed North Korea and Iran to become more serious security threats, and rejected the right’s line on immigration.

For that matter, I’m not sure if Ronald Reagan would have gotten RNC support, either. Reagan, you’ll recall, voted for several tax increases, began the modern era of massive federal debt, ran huge deficits, and approved an immigration measure the far-right still resents.*

And it’s not just the past, either — Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine would easily fail this test, and be made ineligible for support from her own party.

I can’t wait to see how the purity test turns out for the RNC. They’re a clever bunch, aren’t they?

* Update: Reader S.T. also reminds that Reagan would have failed the RNC Purity Test after withdrawing Marines from Lebanon in 1983 in the wake of the barracks bombing. Dick Cheney bashed the decision years later.