December 2nd, 2009

Purity Tests My Patience with Lehman

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Written by: Krusty Konservative
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republican-symbolAs a hard working klown trying to make an honest living making spoiled kids laugh over a Casey’s pizza party, I know a good joke when I see one. This one is a doozey.

We have all heard by now about the “Purity Test” that has been proposed by the Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Bopp. The proposal was drafted following the debacle in the special election in NY 23. In that race, the RNC contributed $250,000 to Dede Scozzafava’s campaign. As we all know, she dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat candidate, creating an embarrassment for the RNC and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

I think we can all agree that something needs to be done to ensure that our scarce financial resources are not wasted on candidates who ultimately switch parties like Arlen Specter or Scozzafava. That said, I think the idea of a “purity test” in which you need to score 80% on will do nothing to correct the problem.

Let’s look at the 10 positions that candidates would have to score 80% on in order to receive financial support from the RNC.

1. We support smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama’s “stimulus” bill;

2. We support market-based health care reform and oppose Obama-style government run health care;

3. We support market-based energy reforms by opposing cap and trade legislation;

4. We support workers’ right to secret ballot by opposing card check;

5. We support legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants;

6. We support victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges;

7. We support containment of Iran and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear weapons threat;

8. We support retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;

9. We support protecting the lives of vulnerable persons by opposing health care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion; and

10. We support the right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that any Republican couldn’t pass this test. For example, if I were to run for Kongress again, I could run as a pro-choice and pro-Obama Care Republican and meet the criteria of the purity test. I could also run as a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage candidate like many Blue Dog Democrats do, but support cap and trade and card check, and still pass the purity test.

I think you get my point. If most Blue Dog Democrats could pass Bopp’s purity test, does it really do anything that will prevent the next fiasco like what happened in NY 23? I doubt it.

Iowa’s National Committeeman Steve Scheffler and Committeewoman Kim Lehman both strongly support Bopp’s purity test. Lehman created a stink right before the 2008 elections when she awarded congressional candidate Mariannette Miller-Meeks “The Great Pretender Award” in an Iowa Right to Life’s pre-election newsletter.

Here is what Lehman wrote about Miller-Meeks, who I’ll admit wasn’t the strongest pro-life candidate I’ve seen, but said she was pro-life.

The Great Pretender Award: Mariannette Miller-Meeks

The “Great Pretender Award” goes to Miller-Meeks, who says on her website, “I believe in the sanctity of life at both ends of the spectrum.”

That would lead one to believe that she’s pro-life, right? WRONG!

Miller-Meeks is pro-abortion and believes in birth control education over abstinence-only. According to the Burlington Hawkeye (5/27/08), Meeks has even gone so far as to say that as a legislator, there is nothing she can do to stop abortion.

Miller-Meeks needs an Oscar, not a seat in Congress.

I bring this up again to illustrate why this purity test doesn’t mean anything. Many still believe that Lehman torpedoed Miller-Meeks’ candidacy on the grounds that she was not pro-life. Well, as we all know, Miller-Meeks is pro-life and campaigned as such, but apparently was not as pro-life as Lehman would like. So having said that, of the items listed above Miller-Meeks was not only a candidate who was an 8, but rather a 9.5 on this “purity” scale. The question that needs to be asked here in Iowa is whether or not our National Committeewoman will fully support our Republican congressional candidates who meet the criteria established by the purity test that she supports.

The other problem with the proposed purity test is that the list that has been submitted only deals with current issues. If the RNC adopts this policy most of the purity issues will need to be updated. What happens when big issues emerge? It’s not like any of us saw that huge bailout coming down the pike in the summer of 2008. What happens then? Who makes the purity list for the next election cycle? What if that group is out of touch with the base and doesn’t include issues like abortion or marriage?

The only way for Republicans to ensure that our candidates are conservatives is for us to actively participate in the primary process. If Miller-Meeks isn’t as pro-life as you want her to be support Chris Reed or Steve Rathje. The same applies to the gubernatorial race. We have primaries for a reason, folks. It is the voters’ responsibility to decide who they are the most comfortable with. If a primary would have occurred in NY 23, I’m pretty confident that to Dede Scozzafava wouldn’t have been the Republican nominee.

In the case of Arlen Specter, President Bush and the other establishment powers that be made a mistake by playing in a Republican primary. Their intervention did nothing but prolong the rift that exists between conservatives and moderates in that state. Primaries are important not only because they allow voters a chance to get to know the candidates and what they stand for, but because they also allow the candidates an opportunity to work the kinks out. Yet, the most important thing that primaries afford us an opportunity to settle the score between the various factions within the party.

The purity test is nothing more than a public relations gimmick that will do nothing to prevent the problems that Bopp, Scheffler, and Lehman want to avoid. A better direction for the RNC would be to encourage spirited primaries which would allow the voters a chance to make the decision on who they want to represent them, not the handful of people in some smoke filled room who selected Scozzafava or a group of RNC members.

About the Author

Krusty Konservative
Herschel Krustofski is the pseudonym for the anonymous author of Krusty Konservative, a blog which focuses on Iowa Politics. Created in February of 2006, Krusty Konservative is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Iowa blogosphere. Since its conception, Krusty Konservative has never shied from tackling controversial issues, and providing insight to the inner workings of Republican politics in Iowa.

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