2.18.2010

"Isn't it a great day to be a conservative Republican?"

That seemed to be the refrain of the Outagamie County Lincoln Day dinner, riffing on Tommy Thompson's line, "Isn't it a great day to be a Republican?" The focus seemed as much on social as on fiscal issues Monday night.

Then I saw Charlie Sykes link to the Mount Vernon Statement. I'm not entirely clear on whether it comes out of the Tea Party movement or CPAC -- or both -- but it seems to be one of those things that bubbles up from time to time, an attempt to reset the goals of the conservative movement or the GOP or some roughly similar group.

As a call to arms for Constitutional conservatism, it's a fine document, though hardly groundbreaking. But it continues to focus as much on social as on fiscal principles, and as such, it will fail to bring about any kind of new coalition around its goals.

Saying things like, "The conservatism of the Declaration asserts self-evident truths based on the laws of nature and nature’s God," might rile up a growing segment of the Tea Party base and get them more involved in Republican Party politics formally; indeed, the biggest movement out of this might be to create a tighter fusion between the GOP and the Tea Party.

But taking that path will continue to alienate the crucial groundswell of social libertarians who could get into the Tea Party movement through its focus on fiscal issues. Continuing to try to drag the religious right -- a movement which is already catered to tremendously -- into the Tea Party is a move that will only serve to push out that moderate base upon which a truly new movement could be founded. As the religious right continues to infiltrate the Tea Party, the window of opportunity for a truly unique, centrist movement that speaks to the broad swath of moderates continues to close.

Edit: it seems that the Statement did come from CPAC, and hasn't done much for conservative unity anyway. I suppose I lean toward it for the exact reasons Malkin opposes it.