The Stupid Party May Learn a Lesson in Upstate New York

A special election will be held on November 3 in upstate New York that may send a much-needed message to the GOP. New York Congressional District 23 was put up for grabs when nine-term Rep. John McHugh, a Republican, resigned to become Secretary of the Army. The eleven Republican chairs of the district nominated Dede Scozzafava, a state assemblywoman and the first female minority leader pro tempore.

The social conservative wing of the GOP, well into a mounting rage over the direction of the nation under President Barack Obama, wasn’t in the mood to accept a pro-choice, pro-homosexual marriage candidate endorsed by the Working Families Party, known for its close ties to ACORN.

Michele Malkin summarized the reaction to Scozzafava in her column titled, “An ACORN-Friendly, Big-Labor Backing, Tax-and-Spend Radical in GOP Clothes.” Malkin’s comments were all iterations on her opening salvo: “The stupid party is at it again.”


The Conservative Party of New York, a group with considerable clout, decided not to endorse Scozzafava, nominating instead one of the defeated GOP candidates, the staunchly pro-life Doug Hoffman. Since then, Hoffman has become something of a rallying point for social conservatives, appearing on the radio shows of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and the red-hot Glen Beck.

Hoffman’s biography reads like a classic American rags-to-riches tale: A humble accountant who served in the U.S. Army Reserves, he unexpectedly became the corporate controller of the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, and later went on to become the managing partner of his own accounting firm. In addition, his record of community service suggests a man who has come to politics as a second thought, rather than a first.

The GOP is not so split over New York District 23 as it is splintered. Chairman of the House Republican Caucus, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), refuses to endorse Scozzafava, while Newt Gingrich and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) have come to her aid. An op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal framed the controversy this way:

 
The real issue is why Ms. Scozzafava is a Republican at all. She has voted for so many tax increases that the Democrats are attacking her as a tax raiser. She supported the Obama stimulus, and she favors ‘card check’ to make union organizing easier.
 

When Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, endorsed Hoffman rather than Scozzafava, she wrote, “It’s gravely disappointing that the Republican Party chose to nominate a candidate whose position flies in the face of the actual pro-life party platform.” She was echoing the views of dozens of social conservative leaders I spoke to yesterday at two separate meetings in Washington, D.C. They were clearly hoping that the Republican Party was going to be taught a lesson about standing up for its core principles and its platform.

 
 

Can Hoffman beat both the Republican nominee and the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens? Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard argued several days ago that the polling is in Hoffman’s favor. It shows that the more voters know Scozzafava, the less they support her. As Kristol comments, “By an amazing margin of 28-12 percent, those who’ve seen Scozzafava’s commercials say those ads make them less likely to support her.”

The Republican establishment is busy trying to prop up a candidate who doesn’t even come close to identifying with traditional GOP values, especially those of its social conservatives. This may well lead to a Democratic victory, but it’s likely that Hoffman will still come out ahead of Scozzafava, sending a clear message that Republican voters want candidates who will fight against the direction of the Obama White House, not play along with it.

Republicans have lost the last two elections in part because they did not do anything to rally the social and religious conservatives who have been decisive in every election victory since 1980. The McCain campaign was the nadir of that lack of effort, so much so that it has become the touchstone of every tactical discussion among social conservatives about how to rally in 2010 and 2012.

Indeed, those social conservatives are mounting major grassroots efforts that are self-described as “outside of the Republican Party.” Perhaps the message is already being sent.

Deal W. Hudson

By

Deal W. Hudson is president of Catholic Advocate, an organization which engages and encourages faithful Catholics to actively participate in the political process to support elected officials and policies that remain consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Formerly publisher and editor of Crisis Magazine for ten years, his articles and comments have been published widely in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and U.S. News and World Report. He has also appeared on TV and radio news shows such as the O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, NBC News, and All Things Considered on National Public Radio. Hudson worked with Karl Rove in coordinating then-Gov. George W. Bush's outreach to Catholic voters in 2000 and 2004. In October 2003, President Bush appointed him a member of the official delegation from the United States to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II's papacy. Hudson, a former professor of philosophy for 15 years, is the editor and author of eight books. He tells the story of his conversion from Southern Baptist to Catholic in An American Conversion (Crossroad, 2003), and his latest, Onward, Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States, was published in March 2008. He is married to Theresa Carver Hudson, also a Baptist convert, and they have two children, Hannah, 21, and Cyprian, 13, who was adopted from Romania in 2001.

  • John Jakubczyk

    Deal, your comments should not only be read by the Republicans in New York state but also by the Republican National Committee and the Senate and House Republican leadership.

    The only way Republicans win in those Districts showing a Democratic majority is to draw pro-life Democrats to support them in the general elections. Running a “pro-choice” Republican who is as liberal as her Democratic opponent is “stupid” and self-defeating. Why Gingrich is involved is also absurd and does more to harm his credibility than help her. Does not anyone remember the disaster that happened when the Republican Washington establishment threw its support support for Specter over Toomey? They upset so many pro-lifers that they anger was felt for two election cycles. Even now if a pro-life Democrat would run in Pennsylvania against Specter in the primary, he or she could win. That would shake everything up.

    Perhaps Hoffman will rally the district and allow the people to show the nation what Americans who are not living in the the coastal liberal cities think about the direction of the country.

  • Sarah L

    Why Gingrich is involved is also absurd and does more to harm his credibility than help her.

    Exactly! (You beat me to the punch). Why on earth is a man who has been so open about his conversion to Catholicism support an openly pro-choice candidate. I had thought maybe his conversion would make him a better man and one more worth supporting. Would he give the same support to Nancy Pelosi?

    Ridiculous and sad.

  • Austin

    GOP candidates for office cannot “out Democrat” the Democrats, this will not work. They can offer a sensible alternative which is:
    -Pro Life
    -Pro Business Opportunity [but hard on corporate crooks]
    -Strong National Defense [but not neocon]
    -Federalist [try to move programs to the states where possible]
    -Lower Taxes [but no defecit spending].

    Yes, I know, easier said than done. Unfortunately, the GOP seems to have splintered into two groups: hard core social conservatives and hard core pro business at all costs people. Reagan was able to cobble together a coalition of people such as these, but unfortunately, the people who came after him have largely failed. Huckabee appeals to the Social Conservatives, but the business people don’t like him. Romney, the exact opposite. Before we forward, we need to define who we are.

  • J

    It’s definitely time to register as an Independent. I don’t care anymore what party label someone wears, I don’t care what color their skin is, I don’t care whether they’re rich or middle-class, I don’t care if they’re a smooth talker.

    I care about a person’s words, actions, ideas, principles, and track record. I care about their associations and who their friends are because that speaks volumes. I care about whether they keep their promises in public and in private.

    And bottom line, no matter what else they may champion, if a person does not champion the right to LIFE, they will not get my vote. Period.

  • Carlist

    And why is outspoken pro-lifer, Peter King wholeheartedly endorsing Scozzofava?

    Shades of Rick Santorum!!!

  • Ted Seeber

    GOP candidates for office cannot “out Democrat” the Democrats, this will not work. They can offer a sensible alternative which is:
    -Pro Life
    -Pro Business Opportunity [but hard on corporate crooks]
    -Strong National Defense [but not neocon]
    -Federalist [try to move programs to the states where possible]
    -Lower Taxes [but no defecit spending].

    Yes, I know, easier said than done. Unfortunately, the GOP seems to have splintered into two groups: hard core social conservatives and hard core pro business at all costs people. Reagan was able to cobble together a coalition of people such as these, but unfortunately, the people who came after him have largely failed. Huckabee appeals to the Social Conservatives, but the business people don’t like him. Romney, the exact opposite. Before we forward, we need to define who we are.

    I’d replace Pro Business Opportunity with Pro Small Business, Strong National Defense with Isolationist (because the best defense is a border that *nobody* is allowed to cross), Federalist with Subsidarist (things shouldn’t even be done at the state level if they can be done at the family level), and Lower taxes with Fair and Accurate Taxation (people who use government services should pay for government services for the most part, the rest is and should be able to be claimed as, charity, unless it falls into the two great duties of Government to provide for the general defense and promote the general welfare).

    Then you would no longer have neocons, but true conservation-minded conservatives.

    Is everybody else blind to what root words mean?

  • Ted Seeber

    It’s definitely time to register as an Independent. I don’t care anymore what party label someone wears, I don’t care what color their skin is, I don’t care whether they’re rich or middle-class, I don’t care if they’re a smooth talker.

    I care about a person’s words, actions, ideas, principles, and track record. I care about their associations and who their friends are because that speaks volumes. I care about whether they keep their promises in public and in private.

    And bottom line, no matter what else they may champion, if a person does not champion the right to LIFE, they will not get my vote. Period.

    I keep trying to foul up Oregon’s demographers- in the last 10 years I’ve been registered Republican, Democrat, Constitution, Independent, Technocrat, and Green, depending on my mood and whose primary I wanted to vote in this year.

    Last 6 Presidential elections I was forced to vote third party, as I was completely convinced that there were no Pro-life candidates left in either the Republican or Democratic party, at least not by John Paul The Great’s definition of pro-life, and my “moral equivalence” has a tendency to run more towards family-wage jobs and protectionism than anything else, which is also something neither major party supports.

  • Ted – I think you’ve missed the

    Hi Ted,

    I understand that your talk of a new government that embraces monastic lifestyles and a local, distributist economy is very intriguing to you. It is not very intriguing to the rest of us, namely because of its unlikelyhood to happen in the near future.

    To have the governmental system you want, we would have to have a complete breakdown of the government structure as we now know because your thoughts and ideas are completely and staggeringly different to the current governmental system we currently have in place. For such a complete change, we would have to have a complete breakdown in society in order to rebuild the utopia you have in mind.

    Since we currently do not have local self-sustaining community / economies, starvation would ensue, because each city at this point in time does not have the resources or technology to sustain its population. Millions would die in California due to the lack of water and its need to be imported from thousands of miles away. Millions more would die throughout the country because of the medicines and medical equipment that are also not made in each city, and therefore transported through our vast, interconnected system. There would be no electricity or fuel in many areas, due to its importation into the small communities you have in mind. In other words, your utopia would immediately blow everyone back to a situation worse than the biblical plagues.

    Furthermore, monastic communites were created as a retreat from society. They still, in some respect, all depended upon the community at large for alms, business, medicines, medical professionals and other aspects of civilization which they could not develop in-house. BTW, if they were completely self sustaining, who would the Trappists sell their delicious beer to?

    I have a bit of familiarity with autism and I know (I assume that you have asperger’s) that sometimes people with autism have problems with cause / effect correlations. I really think that your utopian ideas stem from this. I will continue to pray for you, and I hope that this post explains why people get angry with you in their posts. Your correlations just don’t add up. It is not possible to completely change government in one fell swoop without hurting thousands, and in our case (the US), millions in the process. This truth also holds water historically (Rome to Feudal system, Cuba, Russia, Vietnam).

  • David

    Here is how brand new Catholc Newt Gingrich explains his support for the pro-abortion Dede Scozzafava:

    If you seek to be a perfect minority, you’ll remain a minority. That’s not how Reagan built his revolution or how we won back the House in 1994.

    So there’s no room for principles or truth when an election is at stake! I hope people remember this if Gingrich tries to run for office again.

    http://tinyurl.com/yjem84k

  • LEM

    Excellent article.

    I just mailed it off to the Republican National Committee in one of the fundraiser/questionaire letters they sent me recently, with a mid-Nov. return date. I had room to send not only the article, but also the 1st 5 comments.

    I pray that the RNC take these messages to heart and act on them. We need to carefully, clearly and expediently define the Republican Party so we can once again gain the voter’s trust to garner a unified victory over an impending socialist power grab; a mindset which has been interwoven into the very fabric of our American culture. * * * Pray many rosaries; our weapon of from the Blessed Mother and God Himself; for this is indeed a spiritual battle.

  • Sam

    I GUESS IT WAS IN NAME ONLY…I am surprised though because I believed Gingrich was thoroughly pro life…we’re not talking liberal or conservative here…we are talking about following the teachings of the Church unconditionally. If a candidate is publicly pro abortion, then we cannot support or vote for that person…what does Gingrich hope to gain from this? Well, Tony Blair was received into the Church when it was known publicly that he not only supported abortion, but he actively promoted abortion and becoming Catholic did not slow him down…shame on those who received Blair into the Church…perhaps they felt that it was an honor for the Church? Absurd!!! Gingrich … I just dont understand him…I thought he really did embrace all the teachings of the Church, especially those that teach the sacredness of all life…sad!

  • LV

    They were clearly hoping that the Republican Party was going to be taught a lesson about standing up for its core principles and its platform.

    The platform is one thing. The core principles are something else altogether, I’m afraid.

    It’s a natural consequence of our two-party system that each party’s platforms have expanded far beyond what their natural positions would be, simply because they can.

    As a result, the positions of each party can generally be divided into two types:

    1 – Positions taken in accordance with the core principles and beliefs of the party.
    2 – Positions taken in opposition to the other party, for the sake of drawing in voters.

    The easiest way to distinguish between the two types is to look at the “moderate” candidates from each party. As a rule, these candidates will hold steadfast to type 1 positions, while shedding type 2 stances at the drop of a hat.

    For Democrats, abortion is clearly a type 1 issue…and just as clearly, for Republicans, it’s a type 2.

    If the GOP thought that by going pro-choice it could siphon more voters away from the Democrats (with a corresponding reduction in Democratic votes) than it would lose in pro-life voters, it would make the switch in a heartbeat.

    By all means, slap down Scozzafava, and the Republican Party for nominating her. But don’t think for a minute that this is a betrayal on their part. They are not our allies, and they never were.

    The GOP’s primary value to the pro-life movement is in slowing down and defeating the Democrats. That makes the GOP extremely valuable–but if the Republicans ever come to believe that we need them more than they need us, that will come to a very abrupt end.

  • John Jakubczyk

    Here is the irony of the situation. For business to succeed and to do well, there must be a market for the product or service. In order for there to be a market, there must be people willing to buy the product or service. In order for there to be willing buyers, there must be people.

    So the business *read economic” folks should be very happy that there are pro-lifers willing to have families (beyond the break even point)in order that there are people to buy their products and services. In fact business types should be encouraging the pro-life community to promote life and families and children in order to expand markets.

    Promoting human life and building families is critical to the survival of a civilization. Without people, nothing really matters.

  • GW

    Newt Gingrich’s backing of Ms. Scozzafava was a political move. Perhaps it was a stupid political move, but it is what it is.
    Why would anyone be surprised? The GOP’s Pro-Life stance is a political move – it’s earned them hundreds of millions in campaign contributions over the past 30 years, while they’ve done nothing to halt abortions. During the George Bush years, they did nothing except for banning Federal funds for abortion – the small step.
    We need to stop giving our money to the GOP, and Deal Hudson needs to stop being a shill.

  • Carl

    Read your Constitution:

      Legislative branches both State and Federal are in two parts, the House Representatives and the Senate.
      The governed consent to two just powers, U.S. Declaration, in both the individual States and to the Federal government in Washington.
      A bill can only become law when the Executive branch agrees with the Legislative branch—except with a super majority.
      We always had a two party system because more than two is a crowd and what it is really is one of the two parties has splintered. Eventually two parties will rein. Remember the Wigs eventually became the Republicans.
      Just look at the chaos literally hundreds of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies create when they create administrative laws. The EPA, Education Department, Housing Department (remember Fannie and Freddie), just to name a few.
      What about the havoc the Judicial Branch has caused when in not only legislates from the bench but creates law itself instead of interpreting law?
      A living Constitution is dead and so is government splintered into a form of feudal system.
  • Carl

    Prior to our U.S. Constitution our form of government for all intensive purposes was a feudal system called the Continental Congress. The self-interests of thirteen individual States made organizing and acting as one whole impossible. So would be creating a Catholic Party, an Evangelical Party, and a Constitutional Party, etc.

    It

  • Mark

    “Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has endorsed a third-party candidate over the GOP-backed contender in New York’s congressional special election, saying her own party has abandoned its core values.

    The former Alaska governor, who was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running-mate last year, said Thursday she was backing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District race.

    Palin said Hoffman, a businessman, stands for Republican principles

  • Ted Seeber
  • Ted Seeber
  • Sarah L

    “Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has endorsed a third-party candidate over the GOP-backed contender in New York’s congressional special election, saying her own party has abandoned its core values.

    The former Alaska governor, who was Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running-mate last year, said Thursday she was backing Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman over Republican Assemblywoman Dierdre Scozzafava in the 23rd Congressional District race.

    Palin said Hoffman, a businessman, stands for Republican principles

  • Kevin

    It’s a shame that we have to choose between the lesser of two evils when we vote. People are sick of voting for the candidate that offends them the least rather than one who represents their values. If the GOP’s chief principle is to do whatever it takes to get elected, it is doomed as a party.

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