Party, Principle, and the Club for Growth

Earlier this month the Virginia Club for Growth (VCFG) issued a press release criticizing Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore for not being hard line enough against tax increases. The Democratic nominee Tim Kaine’s campaign took that criticism and crafted a mailing to Virginia Republicans publicizing the criticism. To the undiscerning eye it looks like a mailing by the VCFG against Kilgore. It is amusing, as while the VCFG has its problems with Kilgore, those differences pale in comparison to its differences with Kaine.

You can see the flyer here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/metro/documents/kai0546_club4growth_1017.pdf

This mailing has kicked up a variety of discussions, ranging from how ethical it was to send it to whether it was an appropriate time for the VCFG to be less than 100% supportive of Kilgore. But the most interesting discussion I have seen is at the Bacon’s Rebellion blog, where a discussion has arisen about the place of ideological purity and party loyalty and how they fit together. A fairly erudite discussion of the matter can be found at:

http://baconsrebellion.blogspot.com/2005/10/oh-phil-phil-hows-your-day-going.html

The conversation fascinates me as both the Democrats and the Republicans need a big tent approach to win election, regardless of election level. Yet both parties have large factions that adopt fairly strict ideological litmus tests that determine their support for a candidate. Often they are not in complete agreement on issues. When that happens, how do you handle the difference between what you want and what you get in an elected official? Is a candidate acceptable if he agrees with you on all the issues? Most certainly. But what if it is 90% or 80%? It is a slippery slope, and the light shed on that slope in the discussion link above is quite enlightening.

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