# Ideology



Understanding "left-center-right" typologies

Steve Corbin is a freelance writer and emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa.

Few people would argue with the nonpartisan Pew Research Center’s October 2020 finding that “political polarization is more intense now than at any point in modern history.” Resolving the strife starts with truly knowing your political beliefs, understanding other political values, listening (vs. preaching) to others, expanding (vs. restricting) political news sources, compromising (vs. convincing) and accepting intellectual humility.

When registering to vote, citizens must declare whether they are Democrat, Republican, or affiliated with no party (independent). However, there are several gradations of belief within each political stance. Three sources can assist individuals better realize their – and others — political viewpoints.

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Republican National Committee rejects "purity test"

The Republican National Committee won’t be imposing the “purity test” proposed by committeeman James Bopp of Indiana. During last week’s meetings in Honolulu, a group of state GOP chairs unanimously voted against requiring Republican candidates to agree with at least eight out of ten conservative policy stands in order to receive RNC support during the 2010 campaign.

Bopp withdrew his motion from the floor on Friday after a compromise had been reached. RNC members then unanimously passed a non-binding resolution that “only ‘urges’ party leaders to support nominees who back the party’s platform,” Politico’s Jonathan Martin reported.

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Illinois and Delaware would have failed Bopp’s purity test and therefore not qualified for RNC support. The resolution that passed does not penalize candidates who disagree with various “core principles” of the GOP. Still, Bopp tried to spin the compromise as a victory:

“You’ve got to determine that the candidate supports all the core principles of the Republican Party before you support them,” he said, explaining the alternate measure.

But when asked whether it was binding, Bopp was cut off by Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan, who was standing nearby the impromptu press briefing.

“That resolution passed is not binding; it’s a suggestion,” said Tiernan.

As Bopp began to again make his case for the compromise, Tiernan again interjected.

“There’s nothing mandatory or required in there,” the Oregonian noted.

“Can I answer the question, Mr. Chairman?” Bopp shot back.

Continuing, Bopp explained that he thought the RNC’s decision to, for the first time, make it party policy to urge candidates to pledge fealty to the GOP platform represented a significant step.

But Tiernan, standing just over Bopp’s shoulder, again rebutted his committee colleague.

“I’m not going to take that back and make my candidates sign it, that’s ridiculous,” Tiernan said, gesturing toward the compromise resolution in a reporter’s hand. “We don’t have a litmus test and we rejected the litmus test today.”

As Bopp continued, Tiernan again spoke up.

“There’s nothing binding in there,” said the state chairman.

“Can I finish?” a plainly annoyed Bopp asked.

“Read the words,” replied Tiernan.

“Shut up,” Bopp finally said.

Although the RNC papered over this dispute, clearly tensions remain over whether Republican leaders should insist that candidates be conservatives.

Two of Iowa’s RNC members, Steve Scheffler and Kim Lehman, supported Bopp’s purity test. Our state’s third representative on the RNC, Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn, didn’t comment on Bopp’s effort when it first emerged or last week, to my knowledge. I assume he agreed with other state party chairs, who according to various reports strongly opposed the idea. If that is inaccurate, I hope someone will correct me.

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The shrinking Republican tent (part 2)

Not long ago I noted that Republicans are not even considering a socially moderate candidate to challenge Dave Loebsack in Iowa's most Democratic-leaning Congressional district.

Now some members of the Republican National Committee have the bright idea of cutting off party support for any candidate, anywhere, who strays too far from conservative dogma.

I knew some conservatives were crazy, but I didn't know they were that crazy.

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The shrinking Republican tent (part 1)

Iowa's second Congressional district is the most Democratic-leaning of our five districts. It has a partisan voting index of D+7, which means that in any given year, we would expect this district to vote about 7 point more Democratic than the country as a whole. In 2008, Dave Loebsack won re-election in IA-02 with about 57 percent of the vote against Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who couldn't crack 40 percent.

Today Republican blogger Craig Robinson previews the GOP primary to take on Loebsack. His piece is a good reminder of how small the Republican tent has become in a district once represented by Jim Leach.  

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Iowa GOP building new machine to sell old ideas

Thomas Beaumont wrote about the Republican Party of Iowa's revamped outreach strategy in Monday's Des Moines Register. GOP chairman Matt Strawn is working on several fronts to bring the party back to power after three consecutive losses in Iowa gubernatorial elections and four consecutive elections in which Republicans lost seats in the Iowa House and Senate.

Strawn's strategy consists of:

1) meeting with activists in numerous cities and towns

2) using social networking tools to spread the Republican message

3) building an organization with a more accurate database

After the jump I'll discuss the strengths of this approach as well as its glaring flaw.

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Republican governors don't believe their party's talking points

It’s easy to complain about “wasteful government spending” in the stimulus bill when you’re in the Congressional minority. Voting against the stimulus may even be a smart political play for Congressional Republicans.

However, Republican governors who have to balance state budgets in this shrinking economy view the prospect of massive federal government spending differently:

Most Republican governors have broken with their GOP colleagues in Congress and are pushing for passage of President Barack Obama’s economic aid plan that would send billions to states for education, public works and health care.

Their state treasuries drained by the financial crisis, governors would welcome the money from Capitol Hill, where GOP lawmakers are more skeptical of Obama’s spending priorities.

The 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, planned to meet in Washington this weekend with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and other senators to press for her state’s share of the package.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist worked the phones last week with members of his state’s congressional delegation, including House Republicans. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, the Republican vice chairman of the National Governors Association, planned to be in Washington on Monday to urge the Senate to approve the plan. […]

This past week the bipartisan National Governors Association called on Congress to quickly pass the plan.

“States are facing fiscal conditions not seen since the Great Depression _ anticipated budget shortfalls are expected in excess of $200 billion,” the NGA statement said. “Governors … support several key elements of the bill critical to states-increased federal support for Medicaid and K-12 and higher education; investment in the nation’s infrastructure; and tax provisions to spur investment.”

Will the GOP base become disenchanted with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin because of her public support for the stimulus? I suspect Markos is right:

It complicates matters for the anti-stimulus ideologues who see starbursts in the presence of Palin.

Then again, Palin had no trouble lying about her support for the Bridge to Nowhere. Nothing will stop her from trying to rewrite history three years from now.

Speaking of Palin, I learned from Jeff Angelo that she’s created SarahPAC. Something tells me that a lot of Iowa Republican candidates in will receive generous contributions from this political action committee during the next two election cycles.

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