The Arnold Effect?

The New York Times believes the Republican Party to be mired in a debate over what is more important: winning or principles (see David’s post). But Schwarzenegger’s win last Tuesday does not mark a principle-less nature of the Republican Party, no matter how hard the spin doctors are working.

The Times stated yesterday that “the party finds itself entangled in a debate over whether it should follow Mr. Schwarzenegger’s path by moving to the center on social issues in order to become even more competitive in state and national races.”

For Democrats, this loss comes on the heels of the 2002 mid-term elections, where they failed miserably to pick up a desired number of House and Senate seats. And reminiscent of Cruz Bustamante’s election-night death-to-54 celebratory speech, Democrats are ignoring this loss for fear of facing the real consequences.

Were they to open their eyes, they would see that Republicans garnered over 62 percent of the vote Tuesday. The only play left in their dilapidated playbook is to point fingers, this time directing them at what they see as a Republican Party dropping their principles in order to win. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Enter Arnold. His vocal support of fiscal restraint is just what California ordered. The mandate California voters handed to Republicans last Tuesday surely shows they believe Sacramento to be on a spending spree, never mind the utter failure of Gray Davis. And if a moderate Republican is what the voters want, so they shall receive.

But there are those who liken Schwarzenegger’s victory to a party that is willing to sell its soul to win elections. Alan Colmes, co-host of Fox’s Hannity & Colmes, put it perfectly when he said on a show last Wednesday, “I, if I was a conservative, would have voted for Tom McClintock.”

However, I challenge those detractors to explain exactly how voting for the long-shot Republican in Tom McClintock would effect a more conservative change in California government. Handing the election to the vastly more liberal Bustamante surely has no chance of meeting that goal.

And even though McClintock’s 13.4 percent did not sufficiently hamper Schwarzenegger’s lead—after election-day finally resting at over 15 points—voting for McClintock sent not a message of principle but of voter idiocy. The only message the McClintock supporters have communicated is that they would rather throw away an election than install a moderate Republican in office.

A vote for Arnold in the California recall was not a vote against the true Republican Party; it was a vote for it. Democrats would love to spread the fallacy that voting for Arnold was a vote against principle and evidence of a party shift, implying an end-over-means Republican policy. They choose to be wrong.

They know just as well as many Californians that voting for a losing candidate is the equivalent of voting for the opposition. Much to the chagrin of many Democrats, the California Republican Party figured this out not a second too soon. Their refusal to endorse Schwarzenegger until days before the election certainly was not wise, and played right into the hands of nefarious Democrats that would have liked to see this confusion last right up to election-day.

The Republican Party must realize that they are responsible for all views right of center, and any failure to incorporate either end of the right is a failure of the party. The party is not moving to the center, it is just now finally acknowledging the more moderate wing, just as it has played to the more conservative elements of the party for years. And because our nation is certainly dynamic in its political views, the parties must be as well.

Those on the other side of the aisle wish the party hadn’t discovered this piece of political gold sooner. Disorganization and political in-fighting possibly could have damaged Arnold’s chances. Thankfully it didn’t. And as far as conservative principles stand, a lesser Republican is better than a greater Democrat any day of the week.

Posted by Deleted Author at October 12, 2003 5:35 PM