I was directed to this great article by Thomas Sowell.  Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

There has long been an element of the Republican Party that has felt a need to distance themselves from people who stand up for conservative principles, whether those with principles have been Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh or whomever.

The latest example is John McCain’s daughter, who has said how embarrassed she is by having to explain Ann Coulter to her friends. If it wasn’t for articulate conservatives like Ann Coulter, both the Republican Party and the country would be in even worse shape than they are now, for there are extremely few articulate Republican politicians who can make the case for any principle. Certainly Ms. McCain’s father is not one of them.

The only time John McCain led Barack Obama in the polls last year was after Governor Sarah Palin joined the ticket. The economic collapse doomed their candidacies but McCain would have had no chance at all with another inconsistent and inarticulate Republican like himself on the ticket.

Yet many in the Republican Party seem to have felt as embarrassed by Governor Palin as they have been by others who articulated principles, instead of trying to be in step with the fashions of the time– fashions set by liberals.

Maybe those Republicans who put a high value on being accepted in elite circles should be embarrassed by the narrowness of their elite friends, who disdain or demonize people whose principles they disagree with, instead of answering their arguments.

There has even been an undercurrent among some Republicans of a sense that it is time to move away from the image of Ronald Reagan, to update the party and court newer and less embarrassing segments of the voters than their current base.

There is certainly a lot to be said for inviting wider segments of the population to join you, by explaining how your principles benefit the country in general, and those segments in particular. But that is fundamentally different from abandoning your principles in hopes of attracting new votes with opportunism.

Read the whole thing.

19 comments
  1. what is your argument based on? winning an election or a moral argument?
    the GOP is a big tent party. The Republican party reflects the values a Democratic Republic and the checks and balances that are reflective of that. We are not the orthodoxy in rhetoric that the Democratic party is. We are not Austrian School Liberals. We are not theory! We are not the mono-culture. (…Again we are not the mono culture!) We are not any kind of Mono Culture… if it may be Relative Morality or Christian Fundamentalism. We are not one value, but rather our values are faith based and not based on rhetoric. It is time to live up to that!

  2. I have yet to understand why the idea of conservatism creates a divide in the party. I do believe that in many cases there is not alot of difference between Democrat and Republican which is a major issue.

  3. Equating Reagan with Limbaugh and Coulter.. is he kidding? Reagan was the epitome of grace in politics.. the other two are the epitome of crassness.

    I agree with Noah.. the GOP needs to reflect a big tent.. not a narrow ideology.

  4. Well, it isn't “my argument” it is Sowell's I didn't really give commentary to this. I agree that our values are not rhetoric, and that is where Sowell is coming from. He is addressing the Republican “elite” – the ones who tend to find a way to bash conservatives who are “not like us.” Ones who seek to live out the values and hold firm to those values, not give up under the guise of pragmatism.

  5. Well I don't think he was drawing a comparison other than they stood up for conservative principles something that Meghan McCain doesn't do (I wonder who anointed her the spokesperson for young conservatives?) and Michael Steele hasn't done the best job doing.

    His main point is this – without conservatives you lose, you don't have a party. Going after Rush and Ann Coulter, whether you like them or not, is not helpful. All it does is make liberals happy and they won't vote for you regardless. It is a distraction.

    I'm ok with a big tent, but let's not keep moving it around so people can't find it.

  6. Lincoln didn't found the GOP. It was started in 1854 in Wisconsin by anti-slavery activists. Wouldn't you agree that Lincoln came into office during a constitutional crisis? Just a little one.

  7. I agree most people in the party if they aren't Reagan conservatives are usually conservative socially or fiscally or with national security. If they aren't conservative in any of those ways they are usually independent or a Democrat.

    There's something in the party that should appeal to all three groups (and those who belong to all three).

  8. No one is “going after” Limbaugh and Coulter.. most of us are really just either responding to their crassness or trying to elevate the debate to a civil discourse.

    God help the GOP to not be all about crassness.. help there to be a civil discourse inside the tent.. I am getting so tired of the vitriol.

  9. Hey Bob, I wasn't referring to you or other commentors. I was referring to Steele and others who have jumped on the Obama/MSM bandwagon of criticism.

    I agree with you the GOP can and should be able to promote our values with civility.

    My point is when Steele made his comments, and when Meghan McCain opens her mouth. As well as other Beltway GOP elites – it just isn't helpful.

  10. As long as Fox News flaunts Coulter (O'Reilly said “Coulter's the smartest person here”) as a legitimate commentator and conservatives defend Limbaugh then the conversation will sadly be a crass one.

    And what about squawk radio host Laura Ingraham calling Meghan McCain a “useful idiot”?

    This crassness and name calling really hurts the GOP Shane. The GOP needs to get rid of all of the big named “personalities”.. they are profiting as the GOP goes down the toilet.

    People like me simply are not going to stay associated with crass and uncivil voices.

  11. Bob, while I don't like crassness either. I don't listen to Rush, and I'm not really a fan of Coulter. I think to blame the demise of the GOP on them is a mistake.

    The GOP went down because it didn't live by its prinicples. Period. It didn't have anything to do with Rush, Coulter, or anybody else.

  12. Don't blame them in full Shane but they are IMO a big part of the problem.. their over-the-top crassness is not only embarrassing for conservative folks like me in the GOP but an alienating factor for people in other parts of our big tent.

    The civil war is probably a good one if it continues to showcase the foolishness of the talking heads.. maybe a real leader will emerge from the ashes of the war?

    Either way the squawking heads will continue to benefit.. nobody seems to be talking about all of there bucks 🙂

  13. Very true. I've had a number of them on my blog.

    I have to say I like Laura Ingraham, but her making fun of Meghan McCain's weight was out-of-bounds. That's something Al Franken does. We need to be above board on stuff like that. It makes us look petty.

  14. the biggest danger is the Democrats will marginalize the Republican based on who the media anoints as spokesmen for the GOP. We keep on falling for CNN's analysis! we need to define ourselves and not declare someone the leader because some one flamed them. We encourage bad leadership if our leaders are just reactionaries.

    Cantor, Romney, Palin, Steele, Huckabee are all acceptable.
    I don't listen to Rush's show… mostly because I don't like radio. it makes it hard for me to think… but I've enjoyed him in snippets. he is a creative guy and he is needed… but his job is to be interesting. sometimes good leadership is very boring.

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