I had the fortune of attending a meeting recently lead by We Surround Rochester (1), the Rochester branch of the 912 Project (of which I am a member). One of the speakers was Assemblyman Bob Oaks (R) from Macedon, NY. (2) I noticed something about Assemblyman Oaks, something that it did not seem the rest of the room saw.
To set the stage, questions were being asked about the redistricting process within New York State and across the nation. One question which was posed was about what budget cutting measures new Governor Andrew Cuomo was really willing to employ. The answer was that something akin to a commission being formed to help look into the over presence of commissions in New York State. To me, and to many in the group, this sounded like much more of the same...more bureaucracy in a state with too much already. One person told the Assemblyman that we in the 912 Project, the Tea Party, etc. were not about being Republican anymore, but about being conservative.
There was a look on the Assemblyman's face which I will never forget. He looked sad...sad that he didn't think he COULD push harder for real conservatism. His eyes said "I agree with you, and I wish I could genuinely push for such reforms...but I'm afraid that if I do my constituents will get stuck with some uber-liberal who will cause far greater problems." His eyes said that he felt it was better for him to be as conservative as possible, so that he can stay here and do the best he can, rather than to fight the good fight and lose. He looked like a man who wanted to do better but wanted to protect his home and his constituents from worse.
It made me stop and think about some of the others whom we refer to as "RINOs" (that's "Republican in Name Only" for those of you from Palm Beach County, FL). Some of them most definitely are people who are more concerned with being committee chairs, with holding majorities, with getting along. The Olympia Snowes of the world are not getting a pass here. I'm not talking about that type. I'm talking more about someone like our former President George H. W. Bush. I truly believe the elder President Bush was, in fact, a man of true conservative tendencies, largely because he saw them work under his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, while Bush served as Vice President. I also think Bush felt he was doing the best he could with what he had to work with (in his case, Democrat control of the House and Senate).
I wonder how many of the people who we in the Tea Party consider "RINOs" are, in their heart of hearts, genuine conservatives? Think about it. You're a genuine conservative and your goal is to present the most conservative policies you can in whatever elected office you are given. Thanks to the Drive-By Media, you are convinced that if you vote too far to the right, you will lose, and you will lose to someone who is FAR more liberal than you. You don't want to leave your constituents with THAT type of candidate, so you compromise a little so that you aren't replaced by someone who will compromise a lot. You figure it's better to let it be you deciding where to compromise so that the really important things get protected instead of letting a Liberal take your seat.
I believe Assemblyman Oaks is one of these people. I think there are far too many Republicans in this situation. We, the real conservatives, have allowed ourselves to be sucked in to calling these individuals RINOs. Now there are, most definitely, real RINOs out there. (See Olympia Snowe and John McCain.) But there is another side of this issue...we need to SUPPORT the people who are in Assemblyman Oaks' situation. These elected officials need to know that those of us in the Tea Party, the 9.12 Project, the Heritage Foundation (3) need to get behind these people! We need to fight FOR them! I am convinced that in the right climate, these genuine conservatives who vote moderate will not only vote conservative, but they will do so happily and with great relief that they can vote their conscience!
I would go so far as to say that at least 2/3 of Republicans in elected office are legit social conservatives and at least 3/4 of Republicans in elected office are legit fiscal conservatives! It's that 1/4 to 1/3, along with liberals aplenty and the Drive-By Media who go to make these individuals believe they NEED to vote as "moderates" to keep getting elected, rather than leaving their constituents with damaging liberal policies.
So what's the answer? Simple! Conservatives need to get in the ears of these people, but with support! They need to understand that we have their backs, that they WILL NOT be voted out because they vote for real conservatism. I believe that only two or three election cycles are needed where these conservative Republicans win when they vote conservative for the political for conscience over compromise becomes the war cry of conservatives in the GOP.
We need to get behind these people who have NOT made it clear they are RINOs. Olympia Snowe is on her own. But the rest, the ones who are elected on conservative principles, need to be bombarded with the support to show that we have their back. They need to know that they can get re-elected on a Conservative record, that they don't have to compromise to ensure that their constituents do not get stuck with a liberal. If we make this our focus, we can KEEP conservatives in power. And isn't that the goal?
(1) We Surround Rochester Homepage
(2) Assemblyman Bob Oakes (R) Bio Page
(3) The Heritage Foundation Homepage