BY MICKEY EDWARDS
Reprinted from Atlantic.com
The purification process — hard-core and uncompromising partisans driving heretics from their ranks — has been going on for a long time.
The recent Republican convention in Utah, the one in which conservative Senator Robert Bennett was defeated for being not conservative enough (despite an 84 percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union), is just one more step in a decades-long effort to drive independent thought from the political decision making process.
This year, of course, attention has been focused primarily on Marco Rubio’s success in driving Florida Governor Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party (he’s now running for the Senate as an Independent) and former Congressman Pat Toomey’s success in converting Republican Senator Arlen Specter into a Democrat. But in both of those cases one can argue that the targeted incumbent was simply too far out of step with his own party.
The same ACU ratings index on which Bennett scored an 84 gave Specter a 40. The ratings only measure members of Congress but Crist had more than once angered party members with his support of initiatives that were fiercely opposed by most Republicans. But given Bennett’s long embrace of conservative positions, with relatively few departures from the party-line script over a period of nearly two decades, what happened in Utah was something of a very different and disturbing nature. It was checklist politics, a demand for suspension of judgment and lockstep adherence to an ideological instruction manual that would brook no deviation.