I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
This isn’t Dave Cargo’s Republican Party anymore
Dave Cargo knew what I was calling about before I uttered a word. The national Republican Party had lost another Northeastern Senator; Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania was turning Democrat. And the former two-time Republican governor of New Mexico was ready to assign blame.
“It’s the Club for Growth,” he said. “Pat Toomey,” Cargo continued, “has gone into all these states to hurt Republicans who are not right-wing extremists.”
That’s Patrick J. Toomey, erstwhile head of the Club for Growth and Specter’s competition for the GOP senatorial nomination in Pennsylvania. His lead in the primary inspired the veteran senator to change parties.
Gov. Cargo said the Club for Growth “spent all kinds of money” in New Mexico last year, backing then-U.S. Rep. Steve Pierce over fellow U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson in the GOP primary and, later, the general election against Democrat Tom Udall.
And, “they spent a lot of money on the Sheriff (Darren White).”
The Club for Growth regularly finances primary challenges against Republicans who have, it believes, strayed from doctrinal purity. Club positions include making the Bush tax cuts permanent, cutting government spending, “reforming” Social Security, promoting “free trade” and deregulation.\
Gov. Cargo’s Republicanism looks back to Wendell Willkie, Robert Taft, Clifford Case, William Milliken and George Romney, traditional conservatives all. Not neo-con, not libertarian, not the evangelical right.
And Cargo sees cause-and-effect in the rise of those Republican strains and the GOP’s shrinking geography.
Cargo noted that only two Republican senators (Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine) remain in the Northeast. Republican Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island lost his seat last year; the Club for Growth opposed him.
The governor said George Voinovich of Ohio, the only Republican senator representing a large, industrial state, will retire soon. And Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning may lose his next race. These days, southerners dominate the party.
“I used to go to Lincoln Day dinners,” Cargo told me. “Hell, now I think I’m at Jefferson Davis dinners.”
He blamed the party for “eliminating” all the moderates. “It’s a disaster,” he said. “We need a viable two-party system.”
Them’s my sentiments, exactly. Of course, Republicans have the right to turn their party into a church of sorts but as Sen. Snowe pointed out in the New York Times on Wednesday, it’s the road to irrelevance.
“Ideological purity,” she wrote, “is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities.”
The nation needs a conservative party. Conservative, that is, as opposed to far-out, right wing extremist.
In that connection, why do print and broadcast news outlets persist in blurring the distinction? If the point of the journalistic exercise is public education, how does it help readers and viewers to be told (ad nauseam) that a politician to the right of another politician is “more conservative?”
Duh! By that logic, Adolph Hitler was a conservative. And “conservative” becomes just a directional arrow, losing its dictionary meaning and historical meaning both. Journalists can do better.
Further, as Cargo suggests, the Republican Party in New Mexico and nationally, should stop and ponder their current direction.
“When even corrupt Democrats win, you gotta worry,” the governor told me. “And when Republicans are intellectually corrupt, you’ve gotta worry.”