Thursday, October 13, 2005

what's so bad about intra-party fighting?

A lot of Harriet Miers's supporters have been arguing that her opponents should shut up because the fighting is damaging the Republican party. I'd like to know why.

The fighting over Harriet Miers is less vitriolic than the fighting over Terri Schiavo was and the issue is far less fundamental, yet the Schiavo issue did not split the party. The fight over Schiavo was about fundamental issues of life and death and the role of the courts and the federal government in deciding these issues. The fight over Miers is mostly just about strategy. We all want the same thing, we just disagree on whether we are getting it or whether Bush is going about it in the right way. If Schiavo didn't split the party, I don't see why Miers would.

So, yes, there is some danger of people saying things they shouldn't have said and making enemies and creating fractures. But is that really more of a risk for the party than is the idea that supporters of Bush aren't allowed to tell him when they think he is shafting them? Would the party really be better off if people who were crushingly disappointed with Bush's actions would just keep the disappointment to themselves, get discouraged and not bother to vote in the next election?

Isn't the whole purpose of supporting someone for political office that you expect the person to carry out your wishes? If you can't express your wishes and argue for them, what is the point of voting? Don't the people who supported George Bush for president have a right to expect that they will have some influence over his decisions? What kind of influence can anyone expect if they are told to shut up whenever they disagree with him? Why would anyone support the Republican candidate for president if he is just going to become an unapproachable icon who makes decisions from on high, decisions that may not be questioned?

No, this intra-party fight is not the problem. The problem is that Bush failed to heed the wishes of his supporters. And the best possible outcome is for Bush to prove that he listens to his supporters by rethinking the nomination. That is what would make people want to vote Republican --evidence that the Republican leadership will listen to them.

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