Newt Gingrich is out doing damage control after his endorsement of a liberal Republican in New York's 23rd Congressional District angered many conservatives. In an interview yesterday on RedCounty.com
he stood his ground, stressing that although he's still a conservative, pursuing a right-wing-only agenda will ensure that Pelosi, Obama, and Reid will stay in power forever.
In every group that shares a common goal, there exists factions that differ on how to best achieve that goal. Often, they break down along lines of those that will negotiate and compromise, even if it means sacrificing principle, and those stand on ideological purity and refuse to budge, even if it means the goal is never achieved.
The Republican Party is no different; it has the same types of factions--the practical and the ideological. The more astute members that have been able to deftly hop back and forth on either side of the rift when necessary, toeing the party line when it's called for and meeting the demands of their constituents when they call for it.
However, thanks to the conservative backlash against illegal immigration, corporate bailouts, stimulus packages, and Obama's radical policies, the rift is growing ever wider and some Republicans are finding it more difficult to hop over to both sides of the chasm without falling into it, particularly in New York's special congressional election in the 23rd District.
There, the party establishment nominated a liberal Republican, Dede Scozzafava, to increase their chances that they would not lose this seat to the Democrats. But conservatives, feeling left out in the cold, rallied behind a political newcomer, Doug Hoffman, who was forced to run under a Conservative Party ticket.
Practical, meet ideological.
After the conservative blogosphere went nuts
(and let's be honest, practical Republicans trying to win elections are easy targets for bloggers who don't have the burden of trying to execute their ideologies in the real world), the rift suddenly broke wide open, forcing prominent Republicans to leap one final time to one side or another.
Palin, DeMint, Pawlenty, and friends chose to leap to the conservative side. Huckabee was able to find a place where the rift wasn't so wide, and though he has both feet firmly planted on the conservative side he's keeping his hand on the establishment side just in case.
Only Newt Gingrich stood his ground with the establishment and refused to jump.
It's not that Newt's not a conservative, he still is. But Newt holds the very reasonable position that if you stick solely to your ideological guns, you will lose every single election. He asked Red County's Chip Hanlon:
"If you're saying to me do I want a Republican who is only going to be with us eight times out of ten, and two times out of ten not going be with us,or would I rather throw the seat a way to a Democrat who is going to be against us ten times out of ten?"
And that is a very good argument. If the Republican vote is split and the Democrat wins, we can all feel very good about not sacrificing our values while Pelosi and Obama run roughshod all over our Constitution.
On the other side of the coin, though, is what's the point of even opposing the Democrats if we become just like them in order win an election?
"..she would have supported the stimulus," Hanlon said of Scozzafava, "she would be a vote for card check--the feeling is that it's on crucial bills and those very marginal votes where an Arlen Specter or an Olympia Snowe or someone else potentially kills us. To us, Dede Scozzafava strikes us as one, that in a crucial hour, at a crucial vote, will let us down."
Newt's reply? "She might."
But a Democrat definitely will, so Newt is simply taking his chances and choosing the lesser of two evils, a very practical thing to do.
Newt's position shouldn't be ignored. He's been through the wars, and he assembled a Republican majority in 1994 and guided it to reelection in 1996, and he did it by moderating.
But many of those that participated in the Contract With America became so enamored with winning elections that they became part of the problem from the perspective of ideologues.
And so, we're back to the age-old debate. Practical versus ideological. But this time, the debate takes on new meaning as some fear an outright Republican civil war, especially as Sarah Palin, an ideological favorite, is out there somewhere planning something.
While Republicans takes sides, the debate rages on, there is still one question that remains unasked in light of massive Tea Parties, unprecedented growth in government, and the worst economy since the Great Depression.
Is a temporary window in history opening where it's practical to be ideological?