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02 February 2010

State Republicans Form Group To Impose Ideological Litmus Tests On Legislation

Monday, a group of state legislators announced that they were forming a group to "evaluate, on a daily basis, the conservative merits of every single bill that comes to their chamber in the capitol." [Goodfriend, Perry (2010-2-1). Georgia House Republicans form their own conservative caucus. The Examiner. Retrieved on 2010-2-2.]

The Georgia Republican Study Committee, much like its congressional counterpart, plans to grade legislation based on the following criteria:

  • Does the bill reduce the size of government?
  • Does the bill reduce taxes or fees?
  • Does the bill encourage personal responsibility by individuals and families and encourage them to provide for their own needs?
  • Does the bill increase opportunities for individuals or families to decide how to conduct their own lives and make personal choices?
  • Does the bill stay within the limits of the proper role of government?

Once again, I am reminded of the prophetic words from moderate Republican Christine Todd Whitman:

The leaders of these groups seek to impose rigid litmus tests on Republican candidates and appear determined to drive out of the party anyone who doesn't subscribe to their beliefs in entirety. They would dispute my assertion that there's room in the party for all those who share basic Republican principles but might disagree on particular issues.

I'm not a fan of litmus tests.

I think that both liberals and conservatives are wrong when they seek to allow the perfect be the enemy of the good.

There is no such thing as a perfect Republican. There is no such thing as a perfect Democrat. And there is no such thing as a perfect bill. There are, however, good Republicans, good Democrats and good bills.

This Republican Study Committee is, as the Athens Banner-Herald suggests, the wrong track. The group is going to allow ideological litmus tests determine how they vote on the most important issues facing Georgia today. And many times, a good bill proposing good, sound public policy will be opposed by this group of ideological zealots simply because the legislation doesn't pass their rigid litmus tests.

Georgia needs leaders that will think outside the box. Georgia needs bold visionaries. Sadly though, this Republican Study Committee locks the state inside the box with its goal to pass ideologically pure legislation. And there is nothing bold about that.