By Art Gallagher
Paul Mulshine wrote a blog post last week wherein he wittingly or not shed light on the puzzle of New Jersey’s conservative ideologues.
Mulshine was tauting a post by the blogger formerly known as Manly Rash that suggested that NJ GOP Chairman Jay Webber should be replaced because he canceled a meeting of the State GOP Committee. Conservatives have been upset that the NJGOP has not adopted the GOP’s 2008 National Platform, particularly its pro-life planks.
The various NJ Tea Parties and Steve Lonegan’s Americans for Prosperity had planned to demonstrate at the scheduled meeting in order to gain support for various proposed resolutions before the committee,” Support for the Governor’s reforms at the DRPA, Joining the lawsuit against Obamacare, Stopping the implementation legislation for Obamacare in New Jersey, Support for New Jersey Citizens’ right to privacy when flying (TSA pat-downs), and Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which is New Jersey’s own version of the Obama administration’s “Cap and Trade” energy tax,” according to Rash.
Webber said he canceled the meeting because he and other members were busy in Trenton with the legislature in session. The ideologue conservatives adopted a conspiracy theory that Webber cancelled the meeting to silence them.
This conservative blogger supports each of the initiatives that Rash wrote of and supports the pro-life plank of the National GOP platform. This conservative blogger also supports Jay Webber and Governor Chris Christie. The latter has earned me the RINO label from some. I’ve even been nicknamed Arlen.
Mulshine says, conservatives are supposed to stand on principle. He says Webber violated principle when threw his support to Chris Christie in the 2009 GOP Gubernatorial primary over Steve Lonegan. The principle of “Lonegan was perhaps the cheapest skinflint ever to run for office in this great state. He really meant to cut state government.”
The principle that Webber, Christie, and even Senator Mike Doherty who has earned the Loneganites scorn, are guilty of violating is the principle of irrelevancy. The cutting your nose off dispite yourself principle.
Yet Mulshine surprised me in his blog post. Despite his nearly constant criticism of Christie for not fulfilling all of his campaign promises in 11 months, Mulshine wrote this line that demonstrates that he can occassionally see beyond his blinders:
“Webber, despite his conversion, is a huge improvement on Tom Wilson, the prior chairman, who agitated for driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. And Christie, despite his flaws, is a huge improvement over Jon Corzine.
But this is just another reminder that the New Jersey Republican Party has a long way to go.”
My apologies to Tom Wilson.
The New Jersey Republican Party does have a long way to go. However, it has come further in the last year under the leadership of Christie and Webbler than any observer could have predicted. Had Lonegan been the GOP nominee in 2009, a battle that Mulshine and many other ideological conservatives keep fighting 18 months after they lost it, Jon Corzine would still be governor. Much of the progress the GOP made this year, in New Jersey and nationally, would not have happened. More importantly, much of the progress New Jersey made this year would not have happened.
The conundrum of conservative ideologues is that they are more likely to be right, “standing on principle” and lose as they watch life get worse than they are to work with those they agree with on most issues and win.
It’s easier to be right and be a wind bag than it is to win and do the hard work of correcting decades of damage while in the minority. Rash says leadership is standing on principle. Yet, thanks in large measure Christie’s work this year, Democrats in Trenton are adopting smaller government principles. Which is more effective leadership? Going down in defeat while being right and then wind bagging or having your political adversaries shift their agenda? I’ll take the latter.
As we head into 2011 with the entire State Legislature up for reelection, ideologues have a critical choice to make. Based upon history one might expect them to undermine the progress by targeting otherwise “safe” Republican legislators in primaries with more ideologically pure opponents. All that would accomplish is to put safe seats at risk.
The smarter and more difficult choice would be to work with, rather than against, those they agree with most of the time to pick up Democratic seats in the legislature. The ideologues would serve New Jersey better by focusing their criticism on potentially vulnerable Democrats and shifting their focus, even if only temporarily, away from RINOs.
If the “hard right” can move public opinion in New Jersey to the right, as was done nationally this year, RINOs and Democrats will follow.