Commentary: On pragmatism and GOP 'loyalty' oaths

Today, let's revisit the Idaho Republican Party's monumentally misguided "loyalty oath" — and political labels.

Not the fun pejorative labels, like "wingnut." But meatier labels, like "moderate" and "pragmatist."

Plenty has been said and written about how party-purity-on-steroids nonsense will drive moderates from the GOP. And it very likely will.

I also think that it is one more incremental step that purges the pragmatists from politics. There is a big difference — although one that is often poorly stated and underappreciated — between a "moderate" and a "pragmatist."

A moderate takes a middle-of-the-road view of the issues. A pragmatist takes a results-oriented view of the process. A pragmatist can be moderate, or conservative, or liberal. The unifying thread is a willingness to make a deal, to give some ground in order to get something done.

Contrary to what the shrill shriekers on the extremes would insinuate, pragmatists are not evil people. Far from being the enemy of good public policy, they're the people who actually make a difference by making policy.

What pragmatist worthy of the label would sign this loyalty oath?

Any candidate who pledges his loyalty to the state GOP platform has pretty much jumped the shark on all matters of pragmatism. What else can you say about a signee who thinks the state should withhold tax payments to the feds and believes Idahoans should be encouraged to pay their tax bills in silver and gold? These tea party symbolisms and more found a home in the platform.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Idaho Statesman.