February 24, 2020
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With Friends Like These …

In the most recent example of blind partisanship leading to absurd conclusions, conservative members of the Republican National Committee are said to be prepared to go to war against Democrats and two of the most popular members of its own party.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are in the RNC cross hairs, according to a recent story in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress. They and Sen. Arlen Specter, a moderate Republican from Pennsylvania, are the target of the national committee’s ire because of their support for the stimulus package that passed in February.

Conservative RNC members want to pass a resolution condemning the three senators, earmarks and the “Democrats’ march to socialism,” The Hill reported last week, quoting committee members who participated in a conference call during which this strategy was discussed.

One call participant pointed out that passing resolutions was a waste of time and money because few outside the political establishment would care, the paper reported.

More to the point, such a resolution would highlight the RNC’s myopia.

Not marching in lock step with the RNC is a major reason for Sens. Snowe and Collins’ popularity and effectiveness. During an election when Democrats swept control of the House and Senate, Sen. Collins won re-election by 23 percentage points against Tom Allen, the longtime 1st District congressman whose priorities closely aligned with Barack Obama’s. Sen. Collins’ margin of victory was much larger than Obama’s in Maine. She was the only Republican in New England who won re-election in November.

With the defeat of Chris Shays in Connecticut, there are no Republicans from New England in the House of Representatives. This means New England’s concerns are not heard in the House Republican caucus. That is a loss not only for New England, but also for the GOP, which further risks becoming a regional party — made up of angry, mostly white, men who want to condemn those who dare stray from their narrow view of what is best for America.

Sens. Snowe and Collins presumably earned Republican Brownie points for voting against the Democrat’s budget resolution last week. Here again, however, they based their votes on Yankee frugality and common sense, not strict party dogma — i.e., more tax cuts. Both acknowledged the need for government spending to end the recession, but worried that continued spending increases, as proposed by the Obama administration, would grow the deficit to unacceptable levels.

If this is cause for condemnation, the GOP faces darker days before it can hope to return to prominence.

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