Arguing for the alternative to Ms. Noonan’s argument for a third party, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mike Folmer suggests fixinig the current incarnation of the Republican Party. While I don’t believe for a moment that would have long-lasting changes, as evidenced by the current version of the Republican Party’s rapid veering from its so-called core principles, the idea of reforming from the inside is understandable. If it meant a repudiation of the current (mis-)understanding of conservatism, it might even be admirable. Consider:
My personal experiences working the campaign trail this past spring made it apparent to me that the political upheaval was due to a coalescing of two fundamental perspectives held by the rank-and-file: Government needed to be reformed; and the state Republican Party needed to be reformed, too.
Conservatives had long been chafing at the fact that an ostensibly conservative Legislature had linked arms with Mr. Rendell to raise income taxes, push up state spending to record levels, and expand both corporate- and social-welfare spending without any apparent means of accountability–while a comprehensive property tax reform package continued to stall in the Legislature.
These people at the grassroots no longer viewed the state Legislature as a servant of the people but as an exclusive club for political insiders. They fumed as the legislators voted to increase their own pensions by 50%, in addition to excessive daily allowances just to show up for work, and at the practice of allowing members to take expensive junkets to resort locations.
Mr. Folmer has the story correct. He’s working the campaign trail, he’s talking to people, he’s listening to what they tell him. It’s all good, and could prove to be quite the turnaround, however long or short the improvement might be. And I almost believed it. Unfortunately, with one late paragraph, Mr. Folmer jumped the rail and showed he’s more interested in wielding power than reforming the state government to conservative, limited-government ideals.
It is also my conviction that while the leadership of the Republican Party is still trying to figure out how it will deal with the fallout from May 16, it is imperative that the GOP come together in time for the Nov. 7 election. There are critical races to win–most notably Rick Santorum’s fight to beat back state treasurer Bob Casey Jr. and keep his U.S. Senate seat, and Lynn Swann’s campaign to upend Ed Rendell and become Pennsylvania’s first black governor.
First, a true reformer would highlight why Lynn Swann would be a great governor, as opposed to mentioning that he’d be the state’s first black governor. That said, anyone remotely interested in Republican principles would distance himself from Sen. Santorum, who is anything but a limited-government conservative. An endorsement for Sen. Santorum is an endorsement for anti-Constitutional social regulation. It’s support for
reducing eliminating liberty in all areas where liberty doesn’t adhere to narrow, single-definition values. That is not conservatism. That’s statism. That’s anything but a traditional Republican value. Encouraging its continuation reveals that partisanship trumps legitimate reform.
I’ll stick with libertarianism.