According to Politico, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is concerned. At a recent closed door session of Republican lawmakers, Brown worried that conservative Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell's upset win in the Delaware Senate primary over establishment Republican Mike Castle was sending the message that the Republican Party is pitching a small tent with no room for moderates.
It's good to know that Mr. Brown is apparently receiving his talking points from the Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, who recently told the Today Show the exact same thing.
In fact, this is a meme that works its way through liberal channels every time conservatism begins an ascendency. It was used to challenge the rise of every modern conservative from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich. It's the rhetorical club that scorned liberal Republicans employ to exert superiority over their conservative counterparts: "they can't win...they're too far out of the mainstream."
But if the Tea Party movement has revealed anything, it is that the conservative base is much larger than previously thought...it is the mainstream. Thus, the temper tantrum being thrown right now by left leaning Republicans is predictable, if not expected.
A major impetus behind the internal purge of these so-called moderates is their fascination with power, and their obsessive sense of entitlement to it. Therefore, it is not surprising that when the real power brokers - the people - wrest it out of their clutches, they react with the maturity of two year olds. To wit:
When "moderate" Republican Arlen Specter saw that his betrayal of conservative principles was going to cost him his grip on power, he switched parties with no hesitancy.
When "moderate" Republican Charlie Crist saw that his fair-weathered commitment to conservatism was going to obstruct his political ambition, he scrubbed his website and left the party to run as an independent without reservation.
When "moderate" Republican Dede Scozzafava saw her support drain away in favor of the more conservative Doug Hoffman, she suspended her campaign and endorsed the Democrat candidate.
When "moderate" Republican Senator Bob Bennett lost his position of authority to a more conservative Republican, he mulled a detrimental independent candidacy, rather than supporting his constituents' choice.
When "moderate" Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski lost her primary race to the more conservative Republican Joe Miller, she refused to endorse him and took the plunge Bennett wouldn't, embarking on a foolish write-in campaign.
When "moderate" Republican Representative Mike Castle lost his bid for the U.S. Senate to the more conservative Republican Christine O'Donnell, he announced he couldn't support her and is considering pulling a Murkowski himself.
And therein lies the real story. For years, the moderate and left-leaning Republican establishment demanded that the conservative base support them. Failure to do so was regarded not only as a contemptuous betrayal of Republican Party fidelity, but an egregious violation of conventional wisdom.
After all, they lectured, expecting ideological purity from your candidates is fantasy and ignores the hard truth that there are several areas of the country - Delaware, Maine, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts - where conservatism won't sell.
To fully grasp the nonsense inherent in such a conclusion, one needs only to look at an electoral map from 1984. Ronald Reagan's audacious brand of in-your-face conservatism (not just economic, mind you, but social and defense conservatism as well) carried the entire Northeast. In fact, save the socialist enclave of D.C. and Walter Mondale's home state of Minnesota, Reagan's "dangerously divisive, small tent, right-wing ideology" brought majorities of 49 states into the Republican fold. Pray tell, when has the Republican Party tent ever been so large?
Compare Reagan's results to those of virtually every "moderate" Republican presidential candidate in recent history: Ford, Bush 41, Dole, McCain. Each of them not only failed to energize the conservative base, they couldn't even win over the great center - the very reason they were touted as the best choice. This comedic charade was perfectly encapsulated in the iconic image of Colin Powell - long a proponent of moving the Republican Party leftward and supporting more moderate candidates like John McCain - endorsing McCain's Democrat opponent for President.
Looking at the raw numbers, it's peculiar how narrow of an appeal the Republicans' big tent strategy has had as opposed to the broad appeal of the allegedly small tent approach. Perhaps we have some term confusion that needs clarification.
Here's the truth: Republican support swells when the Party faithfully articulates a clear rightward conservative agenda. Republican support contracts when it offers the electorate a milquetoast, watered down version of the Democrats. This isn't high minded political scientist thinking here. It's common sense.
It's time for the so-called moderates within the Republican Party to be the good little foot soldiers they've demanded conservatives be for years. Just smile and dutifully give us your votes. You are welcome inside the tent, but for the sake of the Party and the country, we'll decide where the stakes go.