Sunday, November 8, 2009

Harrop Cannot Take A "Principled Stand"

Today's Toledo Blade feature an editorial by syndicated columnist Froma Harrop "Tea Party Points the way to GOP loss in N.Y.". (I found the identical column under a different title here.), decrying the strategy of what she called the "Tea Party wing of the Republican Party" for its lack of success in getting Conservative candidate Douglas Hoffman elected to New York's 23rd district.  

She speaks of a this group condemning a moderate Republican (who seemed far more liberal than moderate to me), having outsiders like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin coming in to support a candidate with similar beliefs, and decrying big government projects like building roads and dredging the St Lawrence river as the reason that Mr Hoffman lost. She likewise calls Mr Hoffman a carpetbagger because he lives outside of the Congressional District. Of course this is typical of left wing journalism these days, which reports only the most convenient 'facts' to bolster a position while ignoring everything else.
  1. The Tea Parties are about conservative thinking, and not necessarily Republican thinking.
  2. If we are to decry the efforts of Sarah Palin and Dick Armey in NY, will similar condemnation be made of President Obama's efforts in the Democratic losses in Virginia and New Jersey?
  3. If Mr Hoffman was a carpetbagger for his residency, was Hilary Clinton likewise one when she first ran for the NY Senate seat, having never lived in the state before standing for election?
  4. Mr Hoffman's effort was his first in politics, a last minute decision, and that of a 3rd party candidate, all of which certainly had serious effect on his chances of winning.
  5. Ms Scozafava, the endorsed Republican candidate was so in tune with the Republican Party that when she dropped out of the race, she endorsed the Democratic candidate.
But all of these issues are beside the point. The mistake that Ms Harrop makes in her rush to judgment is to attack the effort as being by outsiders and the electorate in NY for making a principled stand. Somewhere in her analysis of politics, she seems to have forgotten that there is more to government than the two major political parties. She likewise seems unable to understand that having an elected official who does not believe in the principles that the voters represent serves no purpose, regardless of which party they claim to belong to. 

Mr Hoffman may have lost this election, and there may be one less Republican in the House, but New York voters have not completely lost. The voters of the 23rd District did very well by a candidate who stood for election without party support, but stood instead on conservative principles. This close showing by a last minute candidate should serve as a warning for politicians around the country of the power of those principles. 

There is an upwelling of Conservative thought going on in this country that can quickly turn into a lack of support for a candidate, Republican or Democrat, who believes otherwise. Being a Republican is no longer a guarantee of support from Conservative voters however, unless you believe in Conservative thought (in my case, Constitutionally Conservative thought)

The failure in the 23rd District may not have been the best run campaign in New York, and it was certainly unsuccessful in putting its candidate in office. I consider it a success however, because unlike Ms Harrop, the Hoffman campaign took not a party, but a principled stand. 


Lisa Renee said...

The cynical me would point out that the attempts to label those few who are extreme as a larger condemnation of all of those who are conservative is really not very different from those who tried to label some of the extreme from the Democratic party as a larger condemnation of liberals.

It's successful as a technique because people for the most part don't want to be associated with those who are extreme. The reality is most people are more moderate, leaning slightly one bit more one way than the other which is why a majority don't associate with either party. They are sick of both, so whoever offers them what they think is the most logic at the moment gets their support. Which basically means whichever side has successfully avoided the most extreme labeling.

Political pundits focus on the extreme of the other side, while typically discounting the extreme on their own. That's also understandable, it's easier to focus on someone else's house than to try to clean up your own.

As an aside, it's not uncommon for different publications to use a different headline, typically the author does not select the headline which is most likely why the other article you linked is titled differently.

I don't consider myself a fan of Harrop's writings, but her blog demonstrates the focus is more on the other side rather than what "her" side can do to improve...Though I do agree with her point that the media does not represent the views of the independent voters, it's typically one extreme or the other...

Tim Higgins said...

Lisa Renee,

I think that you make a great point, especially as each side attempts to categorize the other by their most extreme members.

I am likewise disturbed when the media jumps into the fray by fostering such stereotypes while apologizing or ignoring identical behavior from their own political viewpoint.

I hope that I manage to stay somewhere in the range of fair, while likewise knowing that I stray from time to time. I must admit to being more than a little tired of having the Tea Party movement written off however.

While any side of an argument has people on it that you would prefer were on the other, writing off en masse a group seeking personal freedom and responsible government in this country seems almost sacrilegious.

Lisa Renee said...

I agree it's wrong, there was a time when I didn't notice the patterns but with each election and each "change" in perceived power, it becomes more clear.

The media does play a role in this, they have their own motivation, the extreme always generates more attention. 100 people protesting on principle isn't as exciting as the few from either side making a production of themselves.