DEMOCRATS OF PRINCIPLE | 2000-05-20
The only reason conservative Republicans have ever had any influence inside their own party was because they could point to Democrats of principle.
At the 1948 Republican convention, moderates and liberals once again took the party away from the conservative majority and nominated Dewey over Taft. Republican conservatives all took that kick in the teeth and came up smiling and backing Dewey.
The only time Republicans ever won nominating a moderate was when they nominated a war hero or the Democrats went far, far left. So they lost with Dewey.
Over at the Democratic Convention of 1948, Southern Democrats got kicked in the teeth and marched out. Many of them might have backed Taft. With Dewey, they backed the hopeless but principled candidacy of Strom Thurmond. Not one single Northern Republican offered to join them. So moderates and liberals would rule Republicanism for almost two generations, until they made the switch to get Reagan Democrats to vote Republican.
In 1964, we Goldwater Republicans could point to conservative Democrats who were willing to desert the party of their fathers if the Republicans went conservative. Later, they became Reagan Democrats. In 1964, when Goldwater faltered, there was talk of a Wallace third party candidacy. If Goldwater had lost the California primary, there would have been a moderate or Rockefeller nominated.
But if Wallace had been the only conservative left, and Rockefeller had been nominated, how many Republican conservatives might have lined up behind Wallace? Probably practically none. Only Democratic conservatives have ever put principle above party. No matter how near the Democrats they went, moderate and respectable conservative Republicans could always depend on absolutely slavish Republican loyalty.