September 13, 2010

Delaware Republican Civil War

In Delaware the GOP seems poised to rip itself apart over the Mike Castle versus Christine O'Donnell Republican primary for the Senate. The issue distilled, is that Castle, the GOP establishment preference is a bit too RINO (Republican in name only) for Delaware conservatives. His opponent O'Donnell has been endorsed by a number of Tea Party favorites, including no less than Sarah Palin herself.

But it's been pointed out that her resume is pretty skimpy on substance and she may be far too conservative for what is mainstream Delaware to have a chance to win the general election.

So the battle is starting to get a little bloody. And with only one day to go, a recent poll has shown the unthinkable - a challenger upset. Castle is down 47% to 44%, largely on the Palin endorsement. Ronald Reagan's 11th conservative commandment - speak no ill of fellow conservatives - is certainly being bent a little. Castle isn't conservative, so does it really count?

What is important here? Is the Tea Party's most important goal to rebuke the Republican party for abandoning conservatism, or to punish the Democrats for abandoning reality? Really it's both. But in some cases the opportunity to do both does not exist. This is not the same situation as Rand Paul in Kentucky.

Primaries are an important part of the election cycle. My advice to conservatives and Republicans is this: the two groups do not have 100% overlap in membership, nor always in goals. Nevertheless it is important that no matter who wins the primary in Delaware, that everyone in the state - conservative, Republican or both - rally around the winner. Because no matter who wins, there is a common political enemy in liberal Democrats and the chance to win the state for the right (be it farther right or barely right) requires everybody back tomorrow's winner. After all, if Castle wins, a little right is a lot better than a lot left. And if O'Donnell wins, a lot right is better than a lot left.

I'm glad I don't have to vote in this primary. Weighing principle versus pragmatism is tricky business. For the record I'd like to see O'Donnell win the primary but failing that Castle still beats a Delaware Democrat by a country mile.


  1. You would think that backing the winner of the primary would be a given but, sadly, that's not always the case.

    Murkowsky toyed with diluting Miller's votes with an independent write-in. Didier, in Washington State, wants Rossi to sign a pledge before he'll offer his supporters. As caustic as the DE primary has been, I can't see Castle going quietly if O'Donnell takes it.

    Not, of course, that there's much more that he can do to get the Dem elected in the general... he's already done all of the opposition research for him.

    The fact is that there is something (a lot, actually) to be said for ideological purity. Professor Jacobson said this morning that, by lowering the price of admission to the "big tent," we risk becoming the party of "whatever."

  2. I think ideological purity can co-exist with pragmatism. Look at the Democrats. They've had a 6 decade slow march towards big government and it was fairly steady progress. It wasn't until the current lot decided that full speed ahead was the way to go that people woke up.

    Ideally, real conservatives should hold every seat possible. But I'd rather have a Senator who is right 40% of the time than a Democrat who might be right 10% of the time if you are lucky. What I'm saying is that if Castle were to win and I were a Delaware voter I would hold my nose and vote for him. I wouldn't be happy but it would be better than the alternative. As squishy as McCain was, I'm sure many, many voters now would be thrilled to have him instead of Obama as President.

    It's a tough call. I'm very conservative but I can see the need to operate in the real world where squishes exist. I see everything as a multi-step process. WWII took several battles to win, not just one. Similarly rooting out RINOs isn't an all or nothing effort. Some can be brought along, or at least serve a purpose until something better emerges.

    That said, if O'Donnell wins, and then loses to the Democrat, you may have better a prepared, more conservative candidate for the next Senatorial campaign. That would be a plus for 2016.

    So as long as the conservative movement and the GOP don't tear themselves apart in the meantime that is. It's just better to focus on the common ideological enemy.


Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

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