Purity or unity?

Why not both? The subject is how we can win in 2012. By “we” I mean the GOP, the party of Lincoln and Reagan. The problem for many of us in the Republican Party is that “purity” has (at least) three components: liberty, or small(er) government; free markets and free trade; and, not least, so-called social issues, including the sanctity of human life at all stages.

One potential presidential contender, Governor Haley Barbour of Mississippi, has some sound advice on this score. Via Politico:

We need to all work together,” Barbour said. “Unity is what we need to help us win. Purity is not a winner in politics.”

Barbour added that the GOP is well positioned to beat Obama if the issues that played well for Republicans in 2010 remain important in 2012.

This is just right. Purity, as recently witnessed among some tea party people, gave us poor Senate candidates in both Delaware and Nevada. They were pure; they lost contests that were easily winnable.

When Govs. Barbour and Daniels (R-IN) tell us to have a truce on social issues, that’s another way of saying unity beats purity. For winning elections, that’s exactly right. I’d also add the caveat expressed by the late William F. Buckley, Jr.: nominate the most conservative candidate who can win.

Who among the many potential candidates can meet both criteria of being sufficiently conservative while ensuring unity in order to beat Obama? That, my friends, is the $64 question. Stay tuned.


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