It must be admitted that when I read this particular article:
In a move that seemed to surprise many members of Maine’s Republican Party, a group of tea party-style activists redefined the party platform at the convention Saturday.
After the vote, in which a vocal majority supported a wholesale replacement of language worked on by the party establishment since at least January, a string of delegates congratulated Horatio “Ted” Cowan III, a retired marine electrician from Rockland who wrote the adopted amendment.
…I mostly snickered at The Outrage over what happens to be a fairly straightforwardly party platform that should have a good deal of appeal to conservatives, libertarians, and populists. I personally would have argued the hard line on illegal immigration and same-sex marriage, but the former is an argument over tactics and 53% of the voting population of Maine disagrees with me on the latter anyway. So, really, business as usual, nice to see that the Ron Paul people were actually participating in local party structures like we had been asking them to do throughout all of 2008… and, yeah, Maine’s lost to conservatism, so let them have their fun.
Then I read a few more details of what actually happened.
To begin with – and somewhat contrary to the first article – this platform apparently was drunk up by the conventioneers like thirsty plants drinking up rain:
The wide acceptance of the platform at the convention surprised even its co-authors. “I had no inkling this would pass, and frankly we’d been told as much by people running the convention,” says co-author Steven Dyer, an evangelical youth pastor and vice chair of the Knox County Republican Committee, which sponsored the document. “They didn’t even make copies of it for the delegates. They just read it to them from the podium.”
Mr. Dyer says he and his co-authors aren’t members of the tea party, although some have attended such events. They were motivated by disappointment with the party’s “progressive” wing, which had “forgotten what it means to be a Republican,” he says.
He agrees that the document is vague in parts, but that was because they had expected it to be merely a draft to begin negotiations with less-conservative party members. To their amazement, it passed with the support of not only tea-party groups, evangelical Christians, and Ron Paul libertarians, but also a large number of presumably rank-and-file conventioneers.
(Via Instapundit) Apparently the Maine GOP organization was chafing a little bit over their current platform – but only moderates can get elected in Maine, right? Hold on, let’s get a quote from a local political guy:
“If you’re not a moderate, you don’t get elected in Maine,” says political consultant Chris Potholm, a professor of government at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. “Any candidate who gets nominated is going to ignore that platform, or he or she is going to lose.*”
It’s the standard argument, but it has one small problem: the Maine GOP has been apparently acting in accordance with that principle, and it currently ‘enjoys’ a three-to-two disadvantage in the state legislature and hasn’t elected a Republican to Congress for over fifteen years**. The entire ‘must be moderate to win’ has as its assumption that both conservatism and liberalism must be best considered as mere intellectual concepts, and never mind their practical utility. Because of this assumption, te idea that one or the other could be simply better at running a city, state, or country – and that it could be shown to be better – must then be squashed. Particularly in a state already dominated by Democrats, as then there would be no pesky alternative political theories to provide a contrast to the existing paradigm.
So let’s see how this turns out, shall we?
*I am ashamed to admit that I assumed that the quote from Potholm above was provided on command… because if I had actually went to confirm that, I wouldn’t have delayed the pleasure of reading this charmingly mean review* of one of Potholm’s books. Word of advice for budding political writers: always make sure that you spell right the names of anybody who might conceivably end up reviewing one of your books someday.
**I grant (unlike some reading this) that Maine’s two sitting Senators are both Republican and ‘moderates’ – but they’re also personally popular; if you replaced either Collins or Snowe with Republicans who were equally ‘moderate’ the seats would probably flip at the next election, and by Democrats who would not be moderate.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.