Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has formally come out against a proposed resolution at this week’s RNC winter meeting, commonly known as the “purity” resolution, which would require Republican candidates to show they support at least eight out of ten selected conservative positions in order to receive RNC funding.
“Litmus tests don’t work. They don’t build parties, they don’t build relationships, they can be divisive,” Steele told reporters yesterday, after a committee of state party chairmen voted to oppose it. He also added: “This is not the business of the RNC. Ronald Reagan would be ashamed if the party moved in that direction.”
Steele’s invocation of Reagan’s name here was probably not random. This was likely done because the resolution’s main author, RNC committee member James Bopp of Indiana, named it the “Proposed RNC Resolution on Reagan’s Unity Principle for Support of Candidates.” The inferred “Reagan’s Unity Principle” here comes from a line from Reagan about the need for Republicans to stop fighting each other, saying that someone who agrees with him 80% of the time was his friend and not his 20% enemy — which is taken literally here, as a solid floor for support.