The battle for the partyListening to the morning show on The Voice this morning, I heard Lloyd Dougherty make a point about politics and money in Tennessee that I think is worthy of serious consideration:
"This State is conservative, but the money that Republican candidates need to get elected is moderate or liberal money."
He was alluding to the fact that even among conservative candidates, it is hard to find one whose hands are clean of the the "country club" crowd. These people, he was pointing out, are not conservatives. Many of them have an "R" next to their name because their Daddy was a Republican, and his Daddy was before him-that's why they are Republican. They aren't ideological conservatives, and their goal is power for the Party at whatever cost. Ideology or beliefs don't really matter to these folks as long as candidate X or Y does not step on their toes.
Often, when we hear Democrats and liberals complain that the GOP is the "party of the rich," they assume that it is made up entirely of these sorts of people. Dougherty and his guest recounted stories of Young Americans for Freedom, of working on the Reagan campaigns in 1976 and 1980, and how they were often treated by the local Party establishment-who contemptuously referred to conservative Reagan supporters as "those Reagan people."
In 1980 they quit laughing. By 1984 they were all on the bandwagon, claiming to have supported Reagan all along.
What people outside the GOP fail to understand is that there is a constant battle inside the Party at the local and national level between real conservative people and these establishment sorts. Often, the battle for control of the Party is more fierce than a General Election campaign. Some well-intentioned Republicans fail to understand why-thinking conservatives "aren't good Republicans," jealous of wealth", you name it. The reason is because one side is interested only in maintaining power, the other is genuinely interested in making America a better and a freer place. The battle for the Party is often a look at the battle for America in microcasm.