No matter the results in today's election in New York's 23 CD, the grass roots faction of the Republican party has won a huge victory in restoring common sense to the national party.
You would have to have been living under a rock not to know the basics of the story by now. In a special election to replace John McHugh who recently became the new Secretary of the Army, the local Democrats chose their candidate and the local Republicans chose theirs. Unlike a usual election, the GOP county chairs chose their candidate, Dede Scozzafava, directly. No endorsing convention and no primary. Doug Hoffman, a much more conservative candidate, was endorsed by the Conservative Party and a three way race ensued until Scozzafava withdrew over the weekend.
Why is this a win for grassroots conservatives? Just look at last year's presidential election. The choice was between liberal and a radical liberal. Seriously, while I admire John McCain for his service to his country, his political beliefs are not conservative except in a few areas. At best, you can call McCain a moderate Republican, but not a moderate conservative. So in the New York race, grassroots conservatives, the ones mainly behind the Tea Party movement and the August townhall fever, stood up against the GOP party insiders and put their foot firmly down. No more moderate candidates (calling Scozzafava moderate is being generous) and no more spending tens of thousands of dollars of national party money on candidates that wont vote along conservative principles.
Which brings me back to the reason I joined the Republican party. Not because I suddenly became conservative; I've been a solid conservative since 9/11, if not before. Not because it was a popular thing to do; many pundits were announcing the death of conservativism and the GOP earlier this year. No, I removed the fence post from my backside and joined the party for one reason only, and that is to get good conservative candidates on the ballot.
Being an independent has many advantages. It lets you sit above the partisan fray, and make decisions solely based on principle, whatever you believe is best. Being an independent means you are always on the outside, free to criticize the decisions that were made that you had no part in. But being independent also means having to go to the polls and hold your nose while voting for John McCain, and even Norm Coleman. Being an independent means having no say in who the candidates are, you just get to choose between the names on the ballot.
The Republican party both at the national and state level has had several problems over the last decade, not the least of which is losing touch with the principal of fiscal responsibility, and moving farther and farther to the middle to try to get elected. But by far the biggest problem has been the bureaucracy of the party that has lost touch with the common voter, the Joe six-pack or even Joe the plumber. The GOP got lost in its own institutional memory, doing things because they have always been done that way. Putting up candidates who had collected enough favors over the years from party insiders. Conservative principles aren't sexy, and they don't sell well to a generation that increasingly wants to know 'what's in it for me?' But it is those same conservative principles that have served this country so well over its two hundred plus years. And it is those same conservative principles that can save this country from the impending national catastrophes we face of an exploding federal debt and massive government interference in the free market. Selling those principles to the voters means explaining it in a way they can understand. And I don't mean just by way of Twitter and Youtube, although those are important parts of the communication battle. But the message itself is the key, not the medium.
The GOP strategy over the last few years has been to move farther away from conservative principles because it didn't know how to sell them to the voters. What we should have been doing is finding candidates and leaders than can articulate exactly why conservative principles will benefit that common man, and more importantly why it will benefit their children. There is no reason that the GOP shouldn't get 75 percent of the vote from parents, as we explain what the future will look like for their kids under liberal and conservative governments. We need candidates who can stand before a crowd of college students and explain to them that while they might benefit now from free tuition, it will hurt them in the long run. Candidates who can explain why free health care is not what we will get from health care reform.
So how did Doug Hoffman get me to join the GOP? Well, he actually didn't. Not Doug, anyway. But the victory of common sense grassroots Tea Party conservatives in choosing the best candidate for NY-23 is exactly the reason I joined the party-to make sure the GOP picks conservative candidates. In essence, it is the same argument we use about voting in general. If you don't vote, your voice wont be heard. If you don't help pick the candidates that the party puts forth, then your voice wont have been heard. And lest anyone think that one man can't make a difference (although no one in Minnesota should ever believe that after the Coleman recount), consider this-
On Jan 19th, I attended my first local GOP meeting, because of the events of the next day-the inauguration of Pres Obama. Less than eight months later, I started attending monthly meetings of the candidate search committee for the 1st Congressional District. My voice is being heard. Is yours?