By Scott Tibbs, October 26, 2009
Republicans in New York face a dilemma in a special election for Congress: the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava favors abortion rights and homosexual marriage, has repeatedly voted to raise taxes, and supports eliminating the secret ballot in union elections. Republicans are abandoning Scozzafava in droves, with even the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, endorsing Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman. Predictably, there is chatter about GOP "infighting" as this race plays itself out. To answer this, consider the following hypothetical scenario:
After the primary election in May of next year, the Democratic nominee for Congress in Indiana's Ninth District to face Todd Young or Travis Hankins (the two currently declared candidates) in is not Baron Hill but Scott Tibbs. Obviously, I hold views that are opposite of most Democrats. I am anti-abortion, I oppose homosexual marriage, I favor drastically shrinking the federal government and devolving power to the states, deep tax cuts, and so forth. The only area where I agree with Democrats is opposition to the Iraq war, a position I came to 5 years after the war started. Even in the area where I hold liberal/libertarian views - my opposition to the "War on Drugs" - I am of the mainstream of most Democratic voters. Clearly, most Democrats in the 9th would not consider me a viable choice.
Realistically, I would face a legal challenge long before the primary that would disqualify me. I have voted in all but one Republican primary election since 1996, I have been a Republican precinct committeeman, a delegate to the GOP state convention, and a former Republican candidate for elective office. For the sake of this hypothetical situation, we need to assume that the legal obstacles to my candidacy as a Democrat are not an issue.
So, the hypothetical scenario features the match-up of Tibbs vs. Hankins or Young in the 2010 general election. In this hypothetical scenario, the Green Party is running a candidate who embraces traditional liberal Democratic stances on issues, providing a clear alternative to me and my Republican opponent. Does anyone honestly expect most Democrats to vote for me simply because I have a (D) next to my name? Or would it instead be reasonable to expect Democrats to vote for the Green Party candidate that closely matches their views?
It should be easy to understand why many Republicans would refuse to support Dede Scozzafava. Most people are not supporters of one political party or another because they want people in their social clique to have political power. Those people are supporters of their party of choice because that party most closely resembles their own world view. One cannot expect that people who vote Republican based on their conservative views would vote for someone who is much more in line with Democrats than with the base of her own party.
In fact, embracing partisanship over principle is one of the things that has damaged the Republican Party over the last 8 years, when too many conservatives didn't object to (or even supported) the big-government policies of George W. Bush. If Republicans want to be taken seriously, we need to abandon blind partisanship and demonstrate that political power is not an end in itself, but a means to implementing solutions to the nation's problems.