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What’s A “Stark” Conservative?

Ralph Hall is NOT Conservative

We keep reminding those who cover conservative politics for the establishment media that conservatism isn’t a smorgasbord from which one can pluck a few meatballs and claim to be a conservative, nor is conservatism a “fifty shades of grey” continuum; American political conservatism is a fully formed world view based upon adherence to the Constitution’s limits on government and spending.

After POLITICO graciously excerpted CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie’s new book TAKEOVER we thought that message was getting through. However, in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Texas Republican primary election runoff POLITICO Fellow Jose DelReal posted an article about the Ralph Hall – John Ratcliffe congressional race that made us realize we still have a lot of work to do in that area.

Mr. DelReal, a graduate of Harvard, described Congressman Hall and limited government constitutional conservative challenger John Ratcliffe as “stark conservatives” who, in DelReal’s analysis, both courted, and both had success in attracting the “tea party vote.”

Mr. DelReal’s analysis that Congressman Hall had “tea party” support seems to be based upon the fact that a few national political figures who share the Tea Party movement’s goals, such as Rep. Michele Bachman and former Rep. Ron Paul, endorsed him.

That analysis misses the fact that the Tea Party movement is a decentralized grassroots movement, unfettered to the leaders of the Republican Party. 

It also misses the central fault line in the great battle for the soul of the Republican Party that POLITICO regularly reports upon; the battle between Big Government establishment Republicans and the limited government constitutional conservatives of the Tea Party movement.

Clearly, Congressman Hall, whose name is enshrined on a local parkway and airport, was part of the old Republican establishment's ways of earmarks, pork barrel projects and “bringing home the bacon” that helped spark the Tea Party movement and led federal spending to grow whether Big Government Democrats or Big Government Republicans held sway on Capitol Hill.

Viguerie wrote in TAKEOVER, one can’t really understand today’s battles in the Republican civil war, and the rise of the Tea Party movement, unless one understands that the Tea Party is as much or more a rebellion against the entrenched leadership of the Republican Party who have accepted Big Government, than it is a reaction to specific policies of President Obama.

Looking at Ralph Hall and John Ratcliffe as two largely indistinguishable “stark conservatives” misses the most important lesson from Tuesday’s Texas runoff; those candidates who put themselves on the limited government constitutional conservative side of the fault line, such as Ratcliffe and Lt. Governor candidate Dan Patrick won, those who put themselves on the Big Government Republican establishment side of the fault line, such as Ralph Hall and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, lost. 

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