The driving conceit of most third party approaches is that there is no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. And they have a point.
Half the point is “duh”, of course; politics, especially in legislatures, is all about reaching one degree or another of compromise with the other side. The closer one’s legislature is divided, the more compromising is going to happen, provided anything happens at all. If you mix a cup of orange juice and a cup of grape juice, there’s little way around the fact that you’re going to get orange-y grape juice, or grape-y orange juice.
I get it. Some compromise is inevitable.
But some of it has added insult to injury. The GOP got a great start toward standing for conservative principle with the “Contract with America” – but by 2000 the party had largely gone beltway.
Here in Minnesota? The GOP legislative majority in 2011 opened weak and conciliatory on Governor Dayton’s budget hikes, and settled for “decreasing the increase”, seemingly almost without a fight. And then they went on to collaborate with the DFL in capitulating to Helga Braid Nation, and giving Zygi Wilf hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to improve the Wilf investment portfolio.
Pure principles do, inevitably, get sullied by contact with the opposition – at least if you want to effect policy; Ron Paul and Paul Wellstone both were sole principled dissenters on many fractious votes; neither ever really had much legislative effect on policy.
So negotiation – compromise – is an inevitable part of politcs
But at least make it a freaking fight.
And I’ll be fair, here; the Tea Party class of 2010 has done a generally good job of making it an actual battle; they’re hobbled by the seniority system; most Tea Partiers don’t have much of it, and had less in 2011. But they’ve largely stuck to doing what they were elected for.
And it has mattered. Because who have the Democrats been running against this cycle? How many GOP candidates has the Democrat noise machine labeled “Tea Party”? Demonizing the Tea Party has been Democrat Job 1 since 2010.
And the Tea Party are effective conservatives because they know that the larger Tea Party movement is still out there, still motivated, still paying attention.
The entire GOP class that may be going to Washington and to Saint Paul needs to know this.
Just saying – the real job, making sure a GOP majority actually acts like a conservative, limited-government, liberty-restoring majority – will actually begin on November 5.