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March 19, 2014

When It Comes To GOP Primaries, Thomas Sowell Is Wrong

Everyone loves and respects Thomas Sowell so it's disappointing to see him join the "shut up and get in line" wing of the GOP.

In making the case that conservative sponsored primary fights are endangering the GOP chances to take the Senate he adopts plenty of pithy talking points but shuts his eyes to a whole lot of history.

Only Republican control of the Senate can rein in the lawless Obama administration, which can otherwise load up the federal courts with lawless judges, who will be dismantling the rule of law and destroying the rights of the people for decades after Barack Obama himself is long gone from the White House.

Once that happens, even a future Republican majority, led by people with the kind of ideological purity that the Republican dissidents want, cannot undo the damage.

What is this ideological purity Sowell and so many of his fellow establishment apologists speak of? Is it mere "purity" to desire a Republican party that works to shrink government or at the very least stops its growth? Is "ideological purity" a vice while "ideological flexibility" that leads Republicans to join with Democrats to peruse policies such as amnesty, bailouts and supporting nominees like Eric Holder and Sonya Sotomayor, is a virtue? Is the judgement of people who supported candidates like Trey Grayson, Robert Bennett, Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter over Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey beyond question and challenge?

This year’s elections and the 2016 presidential election may be among the most important elections in the history of this country and can determine what kind of country this will be for years — and even generations — to come.

Those Republicans who seem ready to jeopardize their own party’s chances of winning these two crucial elections by following a rule-or-ruin fight against fellow Republicans may claim to be following their ideals. But headstrong self-righteousness is not idealism, and it is seldom a way to advance any cause.

Yes, yes. Every election is THE MOST IMPORTANT IN HISTORY! This isn't a reason not to try and push the party in a direction amenable to the base but to simply a way to confer lifetime appointments to those who have won a single election at some point in the distant mists of time.

The argument used to be, if you want to change the party run in primaries. Now that people have taken up that challenge the argument seems to be, if you want to change the party wait until an unimportant time in American history. And spoiler: There never is an unimportant time.

Politics, like war, is a question of power. If you don’t have power, you can make fiery speeches or even conduct attention-getting filibusters, but that does not fundamentally change anything. And it has accomplished nothing in this case.

This argument treats conservative insurgents as children who simply want attention from the adults. What it ignores is that the conservative insurgency was born as a reaction to what the GOP did with power the last time they had it.

We all know the story by now...there was a huge increase in domestic spending including one of the largest expansions of the welfare state (Medicare Part D) under George W. Bush and Republican controlled House and Senate. And no, it wasn't simply because of 9/11.

When confronted by its spendthrift ways, the Bush administration argues that much of the increase in nondefense spending stems from higher homeland security spending. It's true that most homeland security spending is tallied under nondefense discretionary spending. Yet when homeland security spending is separated out, the increase in discretionary spending is still huge: 36 percent on Bush's watch.

I know it's become fashionable for some to ignore this history and HOPE that the GOP will CHANGE if given power again but when it comes to politicians, I'm not the trusting kind. I've written before that I think some of the primary targets are the wrong ones and that there's a danger in picking fights you can't win but that's an argument over tactics (as the GOP types like to remind everyone). What I don't agree with are the notions that somehow the real bad actors here are the ones who remember history and want to make the GOP more responsive to conservative concerns.

The most damning point against this whole argument is that it's simply not true. There aren't nearly as many challenges as the Shut Up! caucus want to pretend there are. Look who isn't getting any serious challenge from the dreaded "outside groups"...Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham.

If this minor level of challenge is unacceptable to the party then what they are saying is you may donate, volunteer and vote but you simply can no voice in actually selecting candidates.

Professor Sowell knows well the economic rule that if you want more of something you subsidize it and if you want less you tax it. Think of the primaries as a tax on the GOP history of big spending and support for big but not quite as big government as the Democrats want. But hey, if you're a fan of big spending so long as the GOP is doing it, have at it.

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posted by DrewM. at 09:50 AM

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