Conservatism or Tribalism?
One of the candidates for US Senate is pro-life, favors a balanced budget amendment, school choice, and term limits.
Another candidate was an 18 year legislator who is opposed to term limits and voted for the infamous Pay Raise.
Yet another self-styled “Conservative Republican” and “lifelong Conservative” has yet to actually vote in a Republican primary election.
But to listen to some folks, that first candidate would be the second coming of Arlen Specter, and represents all that is wrong with the Republican party.
True, I cherry picked the information presented. Indeed, Rohrer has been a largely stalwart conservative, and at least had the good sense to vote against Perzel in the 2007 leadership vote. (Despite being the less “conservative” position, I actually agree with Rohrer on term limits.) And yes, Smith had been active in tea party organizations, even as a Democrat.
And I obviously omitted any mention of Welch’s troublesome if brief dalliance with the political Dark Side of the Force. But amazingly enough, the folks who typically cheer “principle over party” seem very preoccupied with party registration. On the subject of Welch’s one-time support for Sestak, they love to point out that Sestak ran against Toomey. What they neglect to mention is that in 2006 Sestak was running against a sleazy incumbent Republican Congressman, and that by 2009 Welch declared his intention to challenge Sestak for the 7th Congressional seat. At no point did Welch support Sestak for Senate. Perhaps those insinuating so should apply for production positions at NBC News. I understand they may have an opening.
Ok, the party registration thing is not exactly a big selling point, to say the least, but at what point do we actually argue policy and ideology? Welch has taken on some pretty darned conservative positions. If he were to be elected on this platform he would be among the most conservative Senators in the entire body.
No, the Republican primary has descended into something more akin to tribal warfare than ideology. It seems to matter more which “team” the candidates are perceived as belonging to rather than their actual positions. “Conservative” is no longer an objective term, but a shibboleth.