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November 22, 2005

The moderate-conservative Republican debate

These days, the Republican party have fallen on hard times (do not get too excited Democrats, it appears that both parties have more than their fair share of problems right now). President Bush is not doing well currently in the job ratings. A few Republican legislators are succumbing to the pressure and are looking at troop pull-out in Iraq. And most recently, the rumor holds that Jerry Kilgore did not put up a bigger fight against Tim Kaine because some conservative voters refused to vote for him as a sign of protest (this seems like a reasonable hypothesis as Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell did much better on Election Day). How serious is this?

I think the more important question is, how important should this be?

"Moderate" means very little, other than dissenting in a few areas with others in the party. "Moderate" Republicans often seem to hold similar viewpoints to libertarians (other than in foreign policy, where it seems that many hold a typical Republican viewpoint). With this in mind, economic issues (and national defense at the federal level) do not hold the problem. The concerns come with issues such as abortion, the death penalty, the legalization of marijuana, and others. What is a Republican to do? Many "moderate" Republicans feel that conservatives running for office need to let go of the hot-button topics.

Absolutely not.

A candidate should not compromise their values for votes. Abortion is a touchy subject, but they should not let up on that. Marijuana may not be the most dangerous drug in the world, but rationalizing its legalization by noting the dangers other drugs pose does not make sense to conservative Republicans. Civil unions appear to be nothing more than a thinly veiled gay marriage, and this will always be an issue for conservatives.

But one point does make sense; the economy and defense are the reasons most Republicans vote Republican. Focus on those issues in a campaign; Jerry Kilgore (and presumably, many future candidates) was a good candidate on those topics. By not voting for Jerry Kilgore, those Republicans did send a message, but not the one they wanted. Rather than telling Republicans that we need a more conservative candidate, allowing the "lesser of two evils" brought more confidence to the Democrats and will take ALL the issues away from Republicans.

And one more thing for "moderate" Republicans to remember: conservatives make up the base of the party. Expecting them to change for you is expecting a lot. While "moderate" Republicans make up a large portion of the party, they very much need social conservatives in the party.

In conclusion, the Republican party wars are just foolish; now is the time to fix real problems within and outside of the party. These debates can only serve to weaken the party further. With similar (though less heated) debates occurring across the aisle (liberal vs. "moderate" Democrats), Republicans can take advantage instead of getting dragged further behind.