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Be Careful in Wishing for Purity

Saturday, July 11, 2009 at 12:29 PM EDT


The commotion and confusion of Rep. Mark Kirk’s entrance/non-entrance into the Senate race in Illinois has once again pitted the party purists against RINOs, or “Republicans in Name Only”. Putting aside any ideological arguments or positions on legislation, a party is only relevant when it can a) build a majority and b) get elected in every region of the country.

In response to a Politico blog about Kirk’s indecision regarding the senate race, someone posted a comment saying,

“Mark blew it on cap-and-tax. I was supporting Kirk for IL Senator, but would now support McKenna in a heartbeat. If this is the end of Kirk’s political career, it will be an excellent object lesson for RINOs everywhere!”

Aside from the complete idiocy and cliche of the RINO term, what party purists do not understand is that having enough members of your party to elect a majority leader in the House and/or Senate determines the entire legislative agenda. Period.

While the purists can whine and complain about Kirk’s cap and trade vote, who do you think he would vote to be leader of the United States Senate? I can guarantee it would be Mitch McConnell. Who would the new Democratic senator from Illinois pick to be leader? Harry Reid. While individual members might stray on particular issues, a moderate or conservative Republican will vote for the Republican when it comes to the leadership of either chamber.

I’ve heard purists complain about the latest New Hampshire Senate recruit, Kelly Ayotte, because she supported aspects of the stimulus, or Governor Charlie Crist because he believes in climate change. Who will they vote for when it comes to deciding the majority leader of the Senate? THE REPUBLICAN.

Republicans are wringing their hands over the 60 votes Democrats now have in the senate. There is no guarantee it will not be more than that after 2010. If the purists try to push Ayotte out, we will lose a current GOP seat. Should Crist stumble and Rubio, who has no money, wins the nomination only to lose the general, another GOP seat lost. Both Missouri and Ohio Senate will also be difficult for Republicans to hold.

So the party has a choice. We can get enough votes to form a majority, or we can allow Obama & Co. to run amok for the next 3 1/2 years. The GOP should NEVER be a party of lemmings, following each other off the cliff. There has to be some give and take. But we can’t distance oursevles from our own in order to prove a point. Otherwise we will have years of being the permanent minority to enjoy.