Thursday, September 07, 2006

What kind of Republicans are we?

Governor Tim Pawlenty recently declared, "The era of small government is over," or perhaps as his campaign has clarified, he was merely referring to an article of the same name.

Meanwhile, back at the 2002 Minnesota state Republican convention, conservatives waged a ballot war into the wee hours to endorse businessman Brian Sullivan for governor. "Sullivan isn't electable," we were told. "Pawlenty is a conservative," we were told. "To suggest otherwise is a joke." Sullivan yielded, endorsed Pawlenty, and eventually became National Committeeman, a high post on the state executive committee. Conservatives said a prayer, crossed their fingers, and in suburban SD 43, enjoyed a sweep as Republican David Gaither was elected to the Senate, Republican House members Jeff Johnson and Ron Abrams were reelected, and Republicans won all of the Constitutional offices except Attorney General.

Governor Pawlenty oversaw several conservative-pleasing initiatives, including repealing the process-oriented Profile of Learning with knowledge-oriented academic standards, the passage and re-passage of the Minnesota Citizens Personal Protection Act (kudos to Gaither), a comprehensive crime bill, $900 million in accelerated road construction projects, and the Woman's Right to Know Act.

Why is this man smiling?

But Pawlenty also oversaw more growth in government spending, JOBZ, a repudiation of his No New Taxes pledge, light rail, ethanol subsidies, and signing an exemption from a voter referendum for the Twins stadium tax — contrary to a state taxpayer-protection law that remains in effect for local units of government.

And at the June 2006 Republican state convention, Sue Jeffers and her supporters were "disappeared" by a breathtaking series of procedural moves, and the chair was able to declare, "Seeing that there is only one candidate, all in favor of endorsing Tim Pawlenty say aye," neatly avoiding a repeat of the 2002 gubernatorial endorsement battle.

What's a Minnesota conservative to do?

Jason Lewis came back to Twin Cities radio in August. Like a parent coming home to misbehaving teens, Jason asked us some tough questions:

  • Why belong to a political party unless it's the means to an end: advancing a political agenda?

  • If you elect a Republican who turns around and votes like a Democrat, what have you really gained?

  • I'm a conservative before I'm a Republican. Shouldn't you be, too?

Some dedicated conservatives in the local blogosphere have been struggling with Pawlenty's performance:
  • ...despite my misgivings about Pawlenty, I certainly have intended to vote for him this fall. Now, I am not so sure. ("The Era of Small Government is Over...", David Strom, Our House)

  • I'm not saying that elected officials can't change their minds or chart new territory beyond their campaign promises. But not only does Pawlenty do this on an unprecedented scale, he adds some subtle but noticeable sneering for those of us who object. We are just not capable of understanding his, well, his "Vision of the Annointed." ("Sue Jeffers for Governor," Speed Gibson)

Fred Barnes advises us to "get over it" and get Republicans elected:
...conservative elected officials at all levels of government will always wander from conservative tenets. The test is whether there's a flip side, a strengthening in the fight for conservative aims. ("You Can't Always Get What You Want," Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard, May 15, 2006)

President Theodore Roosevelt said, "All my life in politics, I have striven to make the necessary working compromise between the ideal and the practical." This could have been said by Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush as well. Reagan warned us to elect the most conservative candidates possible, because once elected, the slide toward the left becomes inevitable.

Minnesota conservatives have some soul searching to do before Tuesday's Republican primary election. Get the gavels (majority in the Legislature), yes. Winning is good, yes. But what's the best way to ultimately get what we need?


Haximus said...

I cannot see myself voting for pawlenty in either the primary or the general election.

Sue Jeffers all the way!

Sue For MN 2006 said...

Yep, GO SUE!