By Robert Wallace
The special election to fill New York’s 23rd congressional seat has become a focus point in the battle to redefine the Republican Party. Dierdre Scozzafava was the establishment Republican candidate. As a socially liberal Republican with endorsements from the New York State United Teachers union, the Log Cabin Republicans, and the founder of the left-leaning Web site The Daily Kos, she almost single-handedly represents the best advice offered by The New York Times and helpful liberals: the GOP needs to move to the left to win.
Doug Hoffman entered the race running under a 3rd party (the Conservative Party of New York). He became the symbol for conservatives who are disgusted with the GOP because it has already veered too far to the left, and who are willing to break with the party rather than stay aboard as it sinks farther into stagnation, corruption, and irrelevance.
The conventional wisdom has always been that 3rd party candidates are spoilers like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader who only end up hurting their own side. That probably explains why someone like Newt Gingrich decided to endorse the liberal Scozzafava.
The opposing school of thought is that the GOP needs conservatives more than conservatives need the GOP. The party has drifted so far away from its principles that it’s no longer worth strategically voting for the lesser of two evils out of a misguided belief that the Democrats can be outmaneuvered through compromise. If you stand for something, they will come. Sarah Palin bought into this belief, and so she endorsed Hoffman.
Far from becoming a 3rd party spoiler, however, Hoffman shot up in the polls. By yesterday he had surpassed Scozzafava and was leading the Democratic candidate Bill Owens by a statistically insignificant margin.
Today, according to a Politico post from just an hour ago, Scozzafava finally saw the writing on the wall and dropped out of the race. Although she could not bring herself to endorse Hoffman, she made it clear that the pressure to drop out was because so many of her supporters wanted to vote for a real conservative. Since Hoffman had proved he was a viable candidate, there was nothing left to keep them loyal to Scozzafava and she bowed to the inevitable:
It is increasingly clear that pressure is mounting on many of my supporters to shift their support. Consequently, I hereby release those individuals who have endorsed and supported my campaign to transfer their support as they see fit to do so. I am and have always been a proud Republican. It is my hope that with my actions today, my Party will emerge stronger and our District and our nation can take an important step towards restoring the enduring strength and economic prosperity that has defined us for generations.
On Election Day my name will appear on the ballot, but victory is unlikely. To those who support me – and to those who choose not to – I offer my sincerest thanks.
This is a powerful statement of the vitality of the conservative cause. With all the backing of the GOP machine liberal Scozzafava could not get it done. And yet – in New York state – an independent third party candidate overcame all the obstacles to upset the race.
This isn’t the death-knell for the GOP, but it should be a wake-up call. Conservatives are tired of being used by a party that no longer represents our values, and we’ve just proved that we can do it on our own. So to all those in the GOP political machine this is the message I want you to take from NY-23: Either get behind us, or get the hell out of our way.
Robert wallace is is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.