Another Defining MomentOn Jan 9, 2013 13 Comments
My blog site is dedicated to defining conservative. Senator Orrin Hatch, via the Deseret News, has just given me another defining moment.
In the article “Utah GOP May End Up Being Dominated By Radicals,” Utah’s senior senator is setting the stage for moving our election process from a caucus-convention to an open primary, playing on the fears of voters that the current system is controlled from within by “radicals” and “extremists.”
Jeremy Roberts, a really radically, raucous and rude Republican Facebook communicator , has just announced the launch of his ballot initiative to allow anyone to get their name on a Primary ballot by petition without going through the caucus-convention.
I was one of the Senator’s top three opponents in that race. As a newcomer and the first Republican woman to run for the U.S. Senate in Utah, I had a good showing, but I lost. Senator Mike Lee won.
But then, so did Senator Hatch. (Read on.)
The concern is not extremism or radicalism. It’s incumbency, and the fact that by being in the Washington D.C. climate for so long, one’s vote can be bought – on both sides of the aisle – quite easily. Corporations know this, and so they routinely fund both sides, hedging their bets.
The real radicals – those within the Party who want to move the platform further to the Left – hide behind conservative labels and obfuscate the truth. Through fear-mongering, they lead voters to believe that they don’t have a voice in the “closed” caucus system. And God help us all, the GOP is going to become radicalized unless we do something about it.
The truth is that this is really about a dysfunctional, addictive relationship between incumbents and lobbyists.
Lobbyists love incumbents. In the lobbyists’ eyes they are the sure votes, and if they are in D.C. long enough, they can be owned. Order Jack Abramoff’s Capitol Punishment on my blog site to get his grizzly account of his personal experience doing it “better” than any, and landing in jail for it. Now out of jail, he’s on a redemption mission, a talk show host and hoping to fix D.C. with some of the recommendations in his book. A MUST read.
The other truth is, in a caucus system, anyone can participate. Senator Hatch proved that by spending $7 million to hand-pick his delegates, primarily funded from interests outside of Utah. Together with the Party, the strategy was what Glenn Beck might call “the Cloward and Pivens approach” to overwhelm the system.
And the Hatch campaign did precisely that. Citizens came out in droves to the caucuses. With these record numbers, the Party was not prepared and it was chaos for many.
Insiders in Senator Hatch’s campaign explained that he was strategically bringing in more moderate/liberal delegates. In order to do that, he had to drill down to those who knew the least about the issues and about the political process – or about his voting record, a mediocre lifetime conservative record of 76 out of 100. When I went to school, that was a C – a middle-of-the-road grade. Hardly anything that would get me into a decent college.
The result was that very few conservatives who actually support the GOP platform – and had voting records to prove it – made it through that convention. It was exactly what Senator Hatch and his cronies in DC had ordered – a middle-of-the-road/moderate set of delegates to at least get him into a primary where they knew he would win.
It was not a Reagan delegation at all. It was a more a “McCain” delegation. Or a “Kemp” or “Dole” or “Ford” delegation. But definitely not a “Reagan” delegation. I’m old enough to remember those Reagan years and the restoration of conservatism.
What’s odd is that, according to a history of the ERA opposition in Utah during the volatile years of 1975-1980, Pedestals and Podiums (Martha Bradley), Senator Hatch was a young far right conservative running for U.S. Senate and in his first term. I was the spouse of a BYU law student during those years.
Bradley’s account shows that Senator Hatch was a key player opposing the Equal Rights Amendment and every proposal that came out of that U.N International Womens Year conference – including opposing proposals on rape protection for woman, maternity leave, credit for women, equal pay for equal work, and social security for homemakers.
Without further investigation, some today would call opposition to those recommendations fairly “far right wing extremist.” It was simply that the entire package was top-down, federally-driven, and outside the bounds of the limitations on the federal government’s role.
He’s come a long way, baby. A long, long way, co-sponsoring with Ted Kennedy more women’s and health legislation at the federal level than any of his Republican colleagues.
So, I would ask those who are pointing their fingers at “radicalism” or “extremism” to please define “radical” and “extreme” and “far right wing.” As well as “liberal,” “leftist,” “libertarian” and every other “ism.”
Perhaps we should remind him that “radical” and “far right extremist” were the exact terms Republican operatives used against Ronald Reagan, who my parents helped get started in politics in California. Of course Reagan wasn’t perfect and was not a dictator, and so at times limited to what he could do as President with a Democratic-controlled Congress.
But never forget, one of Reagan’s platform planks was to “dismantle the Department of Education.” Shocking, isn’t it?
Another was to “defund the U.N.” Imagine that!
(At least he was able to withdraw from UNESCO in 1984 calling it “un-American.” Thanks to George Bush II, we’re back into that Leftist organization pushing for national global standards and curriculum in education that Romney opposed.)
Reagan believed “government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.” No! Really?
And he opposed Medicare, calling it “socialized medicine.” Horrors!
It was his landmark address to the California Medical Association that my parents helped arrange that catapulted him into the political limelight in California.
Perhaps that’s all far right wing, extremist, radical and Senator Hatch would have agreed with the labels slung at Reagan way back then.
Senator Hatch’s opponent was Dan Liljenquist, ranked one of the more moderate members of our state legislature. Hardly an extremist. In fact, sporting a record more closely aligned with Hatch’s record.
How ironic that the somewhat libertarian group “FreedomWorks” that backed Lilhenquist attracts support from both the Right and the Left. So does the libertarian Cato Institute.
However, it was Reagan who once said that the “heart and soul of conservatism is libertarian.” Less government. Limited government. Constitutional government.
Jon Huntsman called himself a “conservative” when he ran for governor. Yet he championed some of the most liberal to libertarian causes while in office, such as supporting the gay-straight alliance clubs on high school campuses to further normalization of alternative sexual lifestyles, extremist global warming-green initiatives, and the Obamacare insurance exchange created to facilitate socialized medicine and expand Medicaid. Huntsman was an Obama appointment to China, and apparently he’s seen the light: He now claims he’s a democrat. Perhaps he’s just in a confused identity crisis?
Back to Senator Hatch. In order to defend his deplorable singular vote for the “fiscal cliff” bill, the self-imposed lame duck quacked insults at every one of his colleagues in the Utah Congressional Delegation – which includes moderate Democrat Jim Matheson, suggesting they voted against the bill because they were afraid of these radical, extremist voters.
Actually, they have stated themselves why they opposed the bill: primarily because it had so much pork in it, and it did not address cutting the entitlements – the real pig in the room.
And it was a lie. It did not just raise taxes on the top 2%. It raised taxes on 77% of Americans.
The truth is, Senator Hatch ranks in the top 1 percent of Senators who vote for the most pork. He loves those earmarks. His one area of expertise is knowing how to bring home that bacon. After 36 years, he certainly has the connections and he has also learned how not to slap the hand that has fed him.
And that’s why he was the lone Utah vote in favor of the “fiscal cliff” bill.
So before moderate Republicans (has anyone heard the label Liberal Republican recently?) go around putting labels on conservative Republicans (what was that Reagan commandment you always quote, “Thou shalt not speak ill of….?”) be more clear on precisely what is meant.
Define Republican. Define conservative. Define radical. Define extremist.
You see, I support the GOP platform. I’m conservative.
Unlike Senator Hatch, I didn’t support the “fiscal cliff” bill, nor do I support John Boehner’s or Mitch McConnell’s old guard “go along to get along” tactics, as he does.
Neither does Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and most of the Fox New commentators and conservative organizations that were Reagan supporters from the beginning. Not to mention the libertarian groups.
So Senator Hatch, I have a simple message: You were always friendly and kind and supportive to me along the campaign trail. You are a very likable man. However, I’m getting edgy about all this labeling and re-branding. Are you trying to tell me that any of us who opposed the incumbents of 2010 – or of 2012 – are all radicals or extremists?
If that’s so, then instead of throwing labels out there to confuse less informed voters, speak up and define what exactly you mean.
Because according to a Pew Research study, the majority of Americans and Utahns did not support that fiscal cliff measure, nor the Speaker’s tactics either. It seems to me, that puts me right smack in the middle. The mainstream.
And it also means that you, sir, just might be the radical and out of touch with most Americans.
OK. I’m done with my rant now. For today, that is. If you’d like to receive more posts on Defining Conservative, or leave your comments on how you define conservative, sign up at http://www.CherilynEagar.com
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