RPV abandons pledge requirement.

The Republican Party of Virginia will rescind the loyalty oath requirement, Shaun Kenney writes on the RPV blog.

It was just a few days ago that the SBE approved the RPV’s request that Republican primary voters be required to sign a loyalty oath. If it seems to me like it’s been longer than that, I can only imagine how the folks at the RPV feel. Criticism was swift, and came from all directions.

In parts of the state, much of the Republican grassroots consist of xenophobic jingoists who are furious that elected Republicans aren’t farther to the right. They subject their candidates to purity tests, attempting (and failing) to toss out those who don’t make the cut. Even they thought this was a bad idea. Rank and file Republicans (read as: reasonable people) thought this was a bad idea. Which means, naturally, the RPV thought it was a swell idea, defending it just two days ago and framing its opponents in rather unkind terms.

Admittedly, the RPV had a good point, the pledge really wasn’t as draconian as it sounds. It would have read:

I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President.

It’s not a requirement. There’s nothing binding about it. It’s just an affirmation of how one feels at that moment.

But as one commenter pointed out on the RPV’s site, “if it’s no big deal, then GET RID OF IT!”

It’s this instinct to exclude that says so much about the state of the Republican Party in Virginia. Their support is withering each year, with more and more Jim Webb types leaving for the Democratic Party with each passing election cycle. The party keeps moving farther to the right, losing more people with each slip to the side, and yet many of their more vocal members insist that they have to carry on and exclude still more people if they want to find their way out of the wilderness. Their goal is to create the tiniest tent possible, just big enough for the ever-narrower definition of what constitutes a true believer. With that as the prevailing logic, the notion of closing down the primary — creating a significant conceptual barrier to participation in what should be the most accessible method of involvement in the party — well, it must have seemed downright logical.

Honestly, I’m surprised and a little impressed to see the RPV state central committee backing down on this. Unwillingness to admit mistake is the fundamental trait that’s sinking the Republican Party in Virginia; or, more important, an inability to reverse this trend of exclusion.

But it’s not all sunshine and roses: it looks to me like the mistake is perceived as public humiliation, rather than the closing down of the primary. The purpose of closing the primaries was to prevent pesky Democrats from voting for more liberal candidates. Opening up the primaries again isn’t a concession that Jim Gilmore is so conservative and unpopular that he’s utterly unelectable. It’s just a way to reduce criticism.

24 thoughts on “RPV abandons pledge requirement.”

  1. Do you really think the hard right in VA is further from the middle than the hard left? I’m talkin about the Code Pinkos, open borders, confiscatory taxes, Dept. of Peace-promoting one-worlders. Or is it just that the far right has a seat at the table and the far left doesn’t?

    I for one welcome our new xenophobic jingoistic overlords!

  2. I for one welcome our new xenophobic jingoistic overlords!

    It’s a bit late for that. But hey, hold on to that as long as you can.

  3. Or is it just that the far right has a seat at the table and the far left doesn’t?

    That’s the difference. In Virginia, Democrats are claiming the center, while Republicans are claiming the ever-farther right, a difference of who has a seat at the table.

  4. You make an excellent point about the RPV’s “trend of exclusion” shrinking the number of GOP voters as more and more moderates identify with Webb, M. Warner, and even Kaine. But speaking for myself, I’m quite comfortable being a pro-choice, anti-Amendment 1 Republican in the Commonwealth and so are many others I know. How many Democrats would be as comfortable bucking their party and being openly pro-life and ardent in the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman?

  5. “Open borders” has long been a tenet of Libertarians, who have typically caucused with the free-market Republicans. (Witness the RLC.)

    When did they become the far left?

  6. “Code Pinkos, open borders, confiscatory taxes, Dept. of Peace-promoting one-worlders.”

    That’s about 1% of Democrats in Virginia. At most.

  7. But speaking for myself, I’m quite comfortable being a pro-choice, anti-Amendment 1 Republican in the Commonwealth and so are many others I know. How many Democrats would be as comfortable bucking their party and being openly pro-life and ardent in the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman?

    Those are two areas in which more flexibility is accorded to party members among Republicans than among Democrats. But, of course, there are a great many areas in which Democrats can disagree strongly and still get along. Hence the term “big tent party.” It’s also a great weakness for us. We have to accommodate viewpoints that are often in strong disagreement, and it can lead to bickering, infighting, and a weaker party. The Republican Party’s monolithic approach is only better if it’s a big monolith. :)

  8. “anti-Amendment 1″?

    You mean you don’t believe in the First Amendment to the US Constitution?

    Could I get a clarification on that one?

  9. I dunno, Waldo. It seems to me Democrats like to fancy themselves as “the big tent party” capable of and happy to “accommodate viewpoints that are often in strong disagreement” because that fits in so nicely with their professed tolerance and open-mindedness. However, when one looks at actual issues, the story’s a little different. For example, and in addition to the two social issues mentioned above, can one be a Democrat and support capital punishment? Lower taxes for everybody? The war in Iraq? School vouchers? A strict merit system for college admissions?

    Right now in the GOP presidentil primary, the leading contenders are a social liberal from NYC, a Mormon from Mass., a Bible-thumpin Arkansan, and a former Senator from Tennessee who claims to be the true conservative. These folks have much greater differences and disagreements than the Democrats they’re running against who all basically march in lockstep on the big issues.

  10. For example, and in addition to the two social issues mentioned above, can one be a Democrat and support capital punishment? Lower taxes for everybody? The war in Iraq? School vouchers? A strict merit system for college admissions?

    Of course. I know plenty of people who fit the bill on every one of those counts. For years I was a Democrat who supported capital punishment, school vouchers, and a strict merit system for college admissions. (I still think there’s merit in the latter, though not for private colleges.) Nobody ever threatened to yank my D-card. Virtually nobody supports the war in Iraq anymore, but back when a comfy majority of the country supported it, even Bill Clinton was in favor of it.

    Imagine if the Lindsay Dorrier situation here in Albemarle was reversed: he called himself a Republican, but voted with Sally Thomas. He would have been drummed out of the party the moment Keith Drake took the reins. But the man will be able to continue to call himself as Democrat until the day he dies, and won’t anybody in the ACDP say boo about it.

  11. Smails, that’s one of the big reasons we took Congress in 2006… people like Shuler and Ellsworth in the House, and Casey in the Senate. These people infuriate a lot of more liberal Democrats, but they are still welcomed in the party, not only because we would rather have someone who votes with us 60% of the time than not at all, but having a range of different viewpoints at the table is just good government.

    Compare that with the monolithic rule of Frist, McConnell, Delay, etc., who would not condone any dissent within their caucus. This was even true for the so-called mavericks like Specter, Chafee, etc., who always toed the conservative line when their vote was going to make a difference on an issue.

  12. What was the State Board of Elections thinking? I expect this kind of nonsense from the Sons of the Southern Strategy, and the Daughters of the Poll Tax, but the SBE is supposed to be guarding the respectability of the vote. Instituting a meaningless, confusing, and unenforceable oath of allegiance upon the voter is almost as boneheaded as their last screw-up – paperless voting machines.

  13. Dan & Waldo,

    While I respect your opinions and acknowledge the merit in them, I believe this issue of who’s the big tent party is seen through the eyes of the beholder. What happened to NY Gov. Spitzer’s plan to give driver’s licenses to illegals when it conflicted with H. Clinton’s campaign? What happened to Murtha’s comment about how the surge is working when Pelosi didn’t like it? And when was the last time a pro-life Democrat addressed its convention in a presidential year? (FYI, the GOP had pro-choice Schwarzeneger (sp) and Guliani last time around.)

    I’m certain for every example of Democratic party discipline I’ve listed you can list counter-examples of the GOP doing the same. My point is merely that, seen from a different perspective, the gate swings both ways.

  14. How many Democrats would be as comfortable bucking their party and being openly pro-life and ardent in the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman?

    I’ve known a good number of catholics who fit the bill on this one. You might be surprised how many Democrats hold the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, although many of those people are willing to accept for civil unions for homosexuals. Also, many of us differ on opinions of policy regarding gun control and free trade.

    Certainly, there are opinions that don’t show up among Democratic politicians on a national level, but as you said, that’s the case for both parties.

  15. I am very comfortable being called a pro-gun Democrat, a pro-life and pro-choice Democrat (I believe that is a religious issue and the government has no business in that decision, but as a Buddhist I am pro-life), a marriage is a contract between any two or more people so the government has no business in it at all Democrat, and a public education is the great equalizer… allowing opportunity to get into the lowest income families occasionally Democrat.

    Judge, I am pretty far left of the Democratic Party on most issues, pretty far to the right on a few, and I am still a Democrat and damned proud to be because the current iteration of the RPV disgusts me so thoroughly with hatred, xenophobia, elitism, class warfare, and nepotism that it needs to be eradicated before we can have a reasonable conservative party here again… “Republican” has been ruined as a name for at least 20 years.

  16. As far as ‘big tent’ is concerned, remember that Waldo was writing about Virginia politics in his blog entry. The Virginia Democratic Party is a much bigger tent than what you find in the Democratic Party in most other states. Nancy Pelosi and Eliot Spitzer are from 2 of the 3 most notoriously liberal places in America. Not Virginia.

    I would imagine that the Republican Party of, say, Massachusetts might well be an even bigger tent than the Virginia Democratic Party is. But looking at Virginia only, the Va Dems are a much bigger tent than the Va Republicans.

    By the way, I am proud Democrat who has no problem with the death penalty in theory (in practice it has been poorly applied), favors school vouchers and thinks that we should move towards merit-based college admissions while keeping the legal framework for affirmative action in case it is needed again at some distant point in the future. I am adamantly pro Second Amendment, opposed to late term abortions, in favor of increasing the Navy to 350 ships or more and was demanding an attack on North Korea’s nuclear facilities as early as 2002. I favor a massive, nation-wide crackdown on all companies and individuals who hire illegal immigrants with such penalties and breadth of enforcement that the market for illegal labor would dry up to nothing within a matter of months.

    In other words, I would probably make a more palatable Presidential nominee for the Republican party than 2 out of 3 of your front runners (Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney). Like I said, we Virginia Democrats are a big tent.

  17. | …increasing the Navy to 350 ships or more…

    Damn but that sounds sad to this former sailor who served during the 600-ship Navy era of the 1980s (back when John Lehman and then James Webb were SECNAV–Webb signed my appointment to Annapolis).

  18. “But speaking for myself, I’m quite comfortable being a pro-choice, anti-Amendment 1 Republican in the Commonwealth and so are many others I know. How many Democrats would be as comfortable bucking their party and being openly pro-life and ardent in the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman?”

    I don’t know how to do the fun quote thing, but since Smails asked, let me join Scott, I’m an anti-abortion, fiscally conservative Democrat (though I’m fiscally conservative the way Mark Warner is: it doesn’t just mean lowering taxes to me, it means balancing the budget and acknowleding that you still have to pay for core services). I’m a Democrat neither because of, nor in spite of, these positions, much as I imagine that you’re a Republican but not because of or in spite of your pro-choice position. I just happen to understand and agree with the general philosophy of people who happen to disagree with me on a few specific things more than with a group of people who happen to hold a few concurrent opinions. Thank you for asking.

    Incidentally, since our Democratic Governor isn’t going to jump on and start blogging, let me remind you for him that he’s a strong Catholic with a missionary background, and he holds Catholic values against abortion just as he does against the death penalty.

  19. Jeff,

    I would love to go even higher than 350 ships. Right now our navy is the smallest it has been since the beginning of World War 1. Only 280 active ships. In terms of naval strength, we are gradually sliding back into pre-superpower status.

    350 is a politically realistic goal that could easily be happening in the next 5 years given an administration that makes it a priority (like with VP Jim Webb). I would rather we go closer to 400 or more because the cost per ship will go way down from where we are at. We build warships so rarely nowadays that most of the workers are learning on the job and have left for some other job elsewhere by the time the next big order comes in. It’s incredibly inefficient. A steady stream of orders for new ships would keep the shipyards humming along and the total man hours (and thus cost) would drop significantly per ship.

    An examination of the last 500 years or so of world history tells me that no country can be a global power for very long without having busy shipyards. You snooze, you lose.

  20. An examination of the last 500 years or so of world history tells me that no country can be a global power for very long without having busy shipyards. You snooze, you lose.

    Then again, for ~420 of those years, that was the only way to get around . . .

    MB, born on Luke AFB

  21. MB,

    It’s still the way that probably over 98% of the goods involved in world trade are transported. On container ships. The fuel costs for transporting food, raw materials and most consumer goods via airplane would be prohibitively expensive.

    Control the oceans and you control global trade. Control global trade and you control nearly everything. Airplanes cannot replace ships for control of the sea. They can augment sea power but they can’t come anywhere near replacing it.

  22. I suspect you don’t need the same concentrations of seapower in the next couple hundred years that you saw in the past couple hundred.

    In any event, if you want to “control” global trade, look to debt, and not the navy . . .

  23. A better stastic to use aside from the one that Jeff “provided” (that he made up, but his point happens to be valid) is the number of countries worldwide that border an ocean or have littoral coastlines, expressed as a percentage. That’s a pretty high number, too (unfortunatley I can’t find it right now, go figure). And it should further be noted that you can’t efficiently move a tank from one landmass to the next except by sea.

    Seapower, like airpower, boots on the ground, diplomacy, and economic softpower will continue to remain an important component of America’s foreign relations strategy in the 21st century, mainly because it’s silly to throw away any tool in your toolbox (as one Army General famously said, if the only tool you have is a hammer, pretty soon all of your problems start looking like nails). MB is correct to say that we don’t necessarily require the same sort of concentration we needed in the past–but that’s as much because we multi-role our ships, they’re faster, we have better signals intelligence and satellite imagery to track vessel movements, improved electronic platforms and sensor intergration allows our ships to have better situational awareness, and the nature of naval firepower allows our ships to better operate “over the horizon.”

    So hey, how off-topic was this?

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