Reaganite Revolt


It's been clear for a while that Richard Viguerie, one of the fathers of the right-wing direct-mail empire and one of the godfathers of the New Right, hasn't been happy with the Bush administration's free-spending ways. But now he's turning his guns directly on the Republican leadership:

In "Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause," Richard Viguerie…says it's time for radical action to save the Republican Party from itself.

His plan includes the following actions, which would spell bad news for the GOP in the 2006 midterm congressional elections and in the 2008 presidential election:

* Withhold financial support from Republican committees and most Republican incumbents.

* Withhold support from all 2008 presidential candidates.

* No longer call yourself "a Republican" but rather a Reagan Republican or a Reagan conservative.

* And work for wholesale change in Republican leadership.

The same article says that Viguerie is "not advocating GOP defeat." Maybe his position is too subtle for me, but it sounds like he is advocating GOP defeat—not that there's anything wrong with that—arguing that "conservatives should not fear the loss of Congress in 2006, since the biggest gains usually follow a defeat. He points to 1976 when Gerald Ford's loss made possible Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980 and to 1992 when George H.W. Bush's loss made possible the Republican congressional victories in 1994."

Viguerie surely remembers, since his fundraising was an important part of the effort, that Reagan and the then-New Right wouldn't have ascended to power without first challenging the centrist Republican establishment of the '70s. Of course, to do that they had to run in the presidential primaries, and Viguerie seems to have ruled out that route. Guess I'll have to read his book to see what he proposes instead.

Elsewhere in Reason: I reviewed Viguerie's earlier book, America's Right Turn, last year.

Elsewhere not in Reason: David Franke, the other author of America's Right Turn, calls for a Democratic victory in 2006 and impeachment of Bush right afterwards.