- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 5, 2004

Recently I had the opportunity to be victimized by ideological fanatics from both ends of the spectrum; the extremist left and the radical right.

One threatened to slander me publicly because I would not debate him on the tactics and political philosophies of Karl Rove. That was a ridiculous challenge coming from someone who champions the underhanded and fanatical “win at all cost” mentality of Terry McAuliffe. The other fanatic threatened to smear me publicly unless I championed his totalitarian viewpoints on abortion, though I never expressed any inclination to do so.

These are two dangerous examples of fanaticism disguised as political ideology.

Republicans stand for many things, such as less government, lower taxes and, I like to believe, a tempered morality that makes them the party of choice over people who rationalize extremism. Republicans believe people should be able to worship as they wish without political correctness encroaching on that constitutional right.

Republicans believe government should strive to let each taxpaying American keep as much of his hard-earned money as possible rather than government accruing surpluses at our expense. They believe ultimately a person must be held accountable for his actions, a conviction at a premium in today’s “its’ not my fault” society cultivated by the liberal left.

Since George W. Bush’s re-election, I have become concerned that some in the Republican Party are now confused about the relationship between their political ideology and their political party. The marriage between Republicanism and conservativism is wonderful. But it can be argued they are not exclusive to each other. If they were, there would be no Libertarian Party and no Constitutionalist Party. Conservatism is an ideology. The Republican Party is a political organization. They are different, even though they go well together.

The Democratic Party is in disarray, having been hijacked by its extremist left. It paid the price in losing the presidency. While Democrats try to blame everyone else for their self-inflicted demise, they tried to dictate their ideology to the American people. Rather than to represent who we are, they tried to dictate what we should believe to be right and wrong. The Republican Party much better stood the fine line between embracing morality on a given issue and championing extremism. The Democrats, in nominating John Kerry, embraced their fanatics, the “Deaniacs” and the “one-trick ponies.” It brought about their demise.

The Republican Party, after its Nov. 2 political victory, risks falling prey to the same careless thinking. We need to recognize that moral values are defined not by the radical right but by “common sense.” If the Republicans do not do so, and soon, they will be as vulnerable as the Democrats.

Everyone has an ideological position on abortion. I consider myself pro-life. But it is naive, nearly foolish, to say “never,” for the moment you do you will be presented with an exception to the rule.

I abhor abortion on demand, especially for contraception. But I disagree with those who would endanger a woman’s life in deference to her unborn child, especially if the mother can procreate again. But partial-birth abortion is heinous. Champions of this procedure — which almost every physician agrees is almost always unnecessary — should be scrutinized.

Abortion is a matter both of medical and personal ethics based on personal responsibility. Ultimately, the woman who decides to have an abortion must live with her decision. So must the doctor who performs it.

While those who take a strong pro-life stance may disagree, they have no right to brand me as unsupportive of the pro-life position. I could not decide to take the life of an unborn child. But I have never had to choose between my wife, someone with whom I have chosen to live, and another life we chose to bring into the world. Often, ideology doesn’t hold up to reality.

The same can be said for the ideology of less government. We should continuously strive for this goal, but there are always exceptions.

After September 11, 2001, President Bush reluctantly established the Department of Homeland Security, because he had to. Some very vehemently embrace the ideology of less government and condemn Mr. Bush for expanding government by creating the new department. But after September 11, our country and our federal government had to adapt.

The Department of Homeland Security is a good thing. Given the opportunity to evolve, it will serve us well. Those who oppose it should try to look past their ideology and see reality. People halfway around the world have waged a declared war against us for more than a decade. It was past time we set up an entity to secure our safety at home.

It can be good to have an ideology, a set of principles to guide us through life. It can be naive and destructive to allow ourselves to be ruled by our ideology, especially to the detriment of common sense.

Republicans cannot afford to let the ideological blinded set totalitarian standards. That would surely destroy the GOP’s gains with the majority. Republicans must be the political party of common-sense morality.

As for debating the tactics and political philosophies of Karl Rove with the extremist liberal from Atlanta, I still take a pass. It isn’t worth my time.

FRANK SALVATO

Political media consultant,

Managing editor for

TheRant.us.

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