Stanley answers the “What is a Republican” question

Bill Stanley, candidate for chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, sent the following letter out to potential delegates this evening:

Since announcing my bid for Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, I have received many emails from Republican delegates telling me they like what I have to say regarding my vision for RPV. But, they also have questions.

I thought it might be helpful, as well as save some time, to answer the question I receive most often in an email for broad distribution. This way, my fellow delegates can hear my views and learn where I stand.

The question I get the most often is best represented by the email I received below, from a delegate in Northern Virginia. I hope you find my response helpful, and I encourage you to write or call me if you have questions about my agenda for a strong, conservative, and winning Republican Party.


Do you agree with those who say that for the Republican Party to win again, we have to take the advice of people like Colin Powell and move to the middle, especially on social issues? If you are Chairman, will there be a litmus test for Republican candidates?


With all due respect to General Powell, I don’t think he could be more wrong on this point. The most surefire way to send Republicans into permanent minority status is for us to ignore, abandon, or attempt to conceal our core conservative principles, on any issue. As a pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-2nd Amendment Republican, I am very solidly conservative on social issues. Yet, my views on these key issues are not the primary basis for my disagreement with those who want to emulate the Democrats on these subjects.

First, doing so would break faith with our grassroots volunteers and members, who overwhelmingly want their party to promote traditional values on life and marriage, and protect our Constitutional liberties, including the 2nd Amendment. They know that our party exists and succeeds based upon commitment to principle. They also know that abandoning these views for convenience will not improve our prospects at the polls.

Second, even with the American population at large – let alone with the GOP specifically – conservative positions on key social issues still remain the majority view. It therefore makes no sense for us to apologize or shrink from them. While our Party should not conform its positions to match public opinion polls, it is reassuring to know that polling often demonstrates the electorate shares our views on economic and social issues. A positive conservative agenda that protects life, preserves liberty, reduces government intrusion and spending, and enhances opportunities is popular with the voting public.

Third, look across the aisle. The Democrats make absolutely no apologies for their extreme left-wing views. Indeed, they remain unyieldingly dogmatic about all of them. In the last two presidential elections, they selected as their nominee the person who happened to be the most liberal member of the United States Senate. Then, they forcefully attacked anyone who had the temerity to point out or express disagreement with his extreme liberal views. It remains a mystery as to why some of those entrusted with leadership positions in our party failed to similarly demonstrate the courage of our conservative convictions.

In large measure I see the current debate over our party’s “identity” to be a false issue. It has been most notably promoted by the mainstream media, seeking to divide us and weaken our confidence about who we are as a party. Sadly, some in our party have learned the corrosive lesson that the quickest way for a Republican to receive media attention and acclaim is to attack, discount, or dismiss the views of our party’s base.

You now see an occasional movement – again championed by the media – to abandon the model of Ronald Reagan. For our party, doing so would be a catastrophic mistake. Yes, President Reagan’s success began over twenty years ago. But since that time, Republicans have struggled to emulate the success of President Reagan, who was unapologetically conservative yet governed with his party largely unified and foundationally strong. We do not need to find a new Reagan, we just need to remember and emulate his example of leading by principle. He gave meaning to those principles by connecting the importance of the right to life, liberty, and property in public policy to the everyday lives of Americans.

Ronald Reagan enjoyed the strong support of our party’s base. They chose him – long before the party leaders at that time accepted him or welcomed his supporters. This is the true litmus test for those seeking our party’s nomination: can they win the support of our activists and volunteers and, and, with it, our nomination? As a grassroots party, we cannot have party leaders and higher-ups telling the grassroots who to nominate or support. As demonstrated by our own nomination contests, not every Republican agrees on every issue. As a party that is bound by an underlying philosophy, we should expect there to be differentiation on a wide variety of issues. But, our common views dramatically outnumber our disagreements.

By the same token, we will never succeed as a political party if some join forces with our liberal counterparts in the press and Democrat party to attack our conservative candidates or positions. Our conservative base is the foundation of strength in the Republican Party, and it can never be abandoned if we hope to restore the vision of our Founders of a nation built on ordered liberty.

As Chairman, I will never shrink from defending our GOP platform on protecting innocent life, preserving traditional marriage, or promoting the Constitution. As a party, we need to understand that adhering to these principles improves – not hinders – our prospects for victory.

  • Darrell — Chesapeake

    With all due respect, there will never be a party if you spend all your time back slapping at breakfasts instead of having supper with the neighbors.

  • Jim Hewitt

    Very nice letter…so where was this before the Frederick debacle? Why stand up after the SCC votes to oust Jeff? Your entire campaign appears to be built on “sour grapes” and fails the “litmus test” based on your timing and intent. Words can be very hollow based on the common knowledge of who you have recently represented. My support is for Pat Mullins…he has experience, he has proven skill and will help to re-vitalize our GOP because he has lived the Republican Creed in his deeds, actions and talk for decades! Thanks for the response letter….but it has done nothing to sway this conservative Republican’s vote!

  • novamiddleman

    Let me try and clarify a few key points on this as a moderate Republican.

    What are the top three issues for a majority of voters

    I think you would be hard pressed to argue that they are life, marriage, or gun rights.

    In fact I would strongly argue those issues barely make the top 10.

    That is the problem we are having. We need to talk about the issues that the majority care about because we need to GROW the party. Its not about compromising core values its about emphasizing the right mix of issues. At the same time its also about not having litmus tests so if someone is pro-choice/equal gay rights/or pro-gun control BUT agrees with a majority of Republican themes we don’t scare them away.

    Thankfully McDonnell gets this. The number one issue is the economy and McDonnell is talking about jobs. That is how you win in the 21st century. For the polar opposite approach see Kilgore four years ago and the stupidity of his death penalty ads an issue that wasn’t in the top 10 either.

  • Another Conservative/Independent

    McCain would fit the dream candidate and party leader you have described novamiddleman and didn’t he just do wonders for the Republicans???

    McDonnell is getting hit hard on the jobs issue in the dems’ commercials.

    I am trying to hold my support for him but posts like yours scare me. “Thankfully McDonnell gets this.” If so, what would be the difference then between McDonnell and the dem nominee. The dem candidates are all certainly talking about economy and jobs too.

  • novamiddleman

    Lets see here

    McCain was an idiot on the economy amongst many other faults. Huckabee was a social populist. It was a lesser of two evils. Don’t get me started on Palin. Enough about 2008. Need to look forward.

    Some few quick pointers about McDonnell off the top of my head

    He understands energy is needed from multiple sources which will create jobs in multiple industries
    He understands there needs to be education reform and choice and you can’t just blindly spend more money.
    He understands corporate taxes need to remain low to create more jobs

    Thats jobs, energy, and education which are key top issues and are also key differences to what the Dems want to do. Thats how you win. Talk about issues people care about and highlight the differences between you and the Democrats.

  • Bill Stanley appears to be thinking for himself…. Nothing irritates the establishment club more.

    Mullins was handpicked by the GOP Political Consultant Club….

    We first have to take the party back from them.

  • novamiddleman

    Thats highly ironic (thinking for himself). Stanley basically repeated retread talking points with the old argument of who is the most conservative. Notice he also conveniently ignored the main thrust of the question. “Will you have litmus tests”.

    Mullins was handpicked by the executive committee which is almost entirely ELECTED by the GRASSROOTS. More importantly there is a choice and nothing is final.

    And before any bias comes out, Personally I don’t really like either candidate at this point.

  • That’s funny bringing Kilgore into this and reminding us of his horrible campaign. Sure he alienated some independents and some groups in the RPV. His staying solid on one particular issue was not his downfall, though. He was a weak candidate from the start.

    The comparison between McCain and McDonnell by AC/I has merit. We want elected officials to represent Virginia and not to be “Bi-Partisan” and representing the Bi-partisans.

    Yes, energy is a crucial issue. We want energy addressed in a responisble problem solving manner……………not just for the sake of being “Green” and environmentally correct. Wagner knows how to talk energy. Does his message sound anything like McDonnell’s? I would say, no. They just both talk about energy. McDonnell sounds like a “sell out” somehow when he does talk about going “Green” and being so proud of “Bi-Partisan coalition building”.

    Gun rights is a top 10 issue by they way. The 2nd amendment even resonates among Democrats in the western part of the state. Ask Creigh Deeds about that. Add that on to Republicans, independents, and Libertarians, you’ll see that IS a top issue.

    Jobs is an issue as you say, but there had better be something else in the plan beyond spending to create “Green” jobs that may or may not be here later. I can easily see “Green Industry” die out and be replaced by green industry that arrived on the scene based on merit. When a politician claims he’ll create jobs, I wonder if he means government jobs. Do they really mean it when they talk about low taxes and creating/maintaining a business friendly enviornment? Do they understand that business depends on labor that must be able to afford to live there?

    Lastly, if you’re willing to back it up, I see no error in quoting Ronald Reagan.

  • novamiddleman

    Thanks for the considerate intelligent post. Keep it up

    I still don’t understand this statement that keeps coming up

    We want elected officials to represent Virginia and not to be “Bi-Partisan” and representing the Bi-partisans.

    That smacks of the whole real Viriginia idiocy that certain Rs keep hinting at and then getting rightfully smacked around for by the majority of the electorate.

    Last time I checked you run a general elction campaign from the center (if you know actually want to win gasp). The Ds have been cleaning our clocks by doing that for several election cycles. (I would love Moran to win the D nomination that would be a landslide and a half unabashed liberal in Virginia what an idiot)

  • Another Conservative/Independent

    Well thanks.

    I am not comparing McDonnell to McCain. But maybe subconsciously I am.

    I was trying to get across the point that if folks think that the only way to win is to reach across the isle, not shut out those of differing opinions, we’ve already seen time again losses doing just that, most recently……McCain.

    But I do agree with the middleman poster that McCain was weak to begin with but hey he was SELECTED. The grassroats (I hate that word), the conservatives (me) did not want him but we were stuck with him. Time to say no more to that strategerie!!!

    McDonnell in my opinion should have stayed out of this RPV fiasco. I am still wondering WHY he involved himself. I don’t wonder about Cantor. Not a fan.

    I have watched the Republican party destroy itself due to settling for anything other than an democrat for long enough. I see no difference between the two parties.

    I respect Cheney, Rush and yes, middleman, Palin, so please don’t get me started on Palin either. Other than those three, rest are total wussies.
    Worried about getting elected or re-election……nothing more.

    I am pro-choice. I do not allow that to enter into my choice for leadership in anyway shape or form. Gun ownership. YES INDEED. It matters. Alot.

    Now, back to Stanley vs. Mullins…..Mullins comments reported on blogs and now even this afternoon CNN, at a speech in Va. Beach the other day are not helpful. I am all for bashing Obama and dems but uhhhhh way to hang his close friend out on the limb to get his daughter out of jury duty. Named him, hope his job survives.


    Oh and uh, it was bad bad bad for Frederick to make disparaging remarks about Obama but Mullins……no problemo.

  • Another Conservative/Independent


    I do see where you are coming from in some respects. But, seriously, if the Republicans cannot shore up their base they lose. They have to stand their ground. They don’t do that. They are silent.

    I’m okay with a pro-choice, anti-gun, gay-rights activist being in the Party and would love their vote, but let’s be realistic here, you seriously think they will switch over due to JOBS? I don’t. They are gonna vote dem all the way. Shutting those of us out that have stood by the Republican Party and what it used to stand for for so so long is not the way to win either.

    My belief is that folks see through these politicians now. Americans are not stupid. If they see no difference between the candidates they will vote for the one that has the best ads, comes across as sincere in their beliefs, etc.

    And about Moran…..I think T-Mac will be the dem nominee and if so…..McDonnell has a tough 5 months ahead. I cannot stand the mug but his ads are great and he has the MACHINE behind him……and McDonnell, well he’s busy worrying about his convention in two weeks and the debacle that is sure to unfold there now with the Chairman race.

  • Novamiddleman, there is nothing wrong with forming occasional bi-partisan alliances in order to get some things done that don’t compromise too heavily. There are often times when a bi-partisan agreement can be made without compromise at all. There actually are instances where things are just in the interest of Virginia and politics can be put aside. That is valuable. Selling out principle in order to claim a bi-partisan label is not.

    Once you hold office, you represent Virginia. That includes the far right and the far left, not just the center. Even if winning the center wins you the race. You still have a job to do. Nobody likes an obvious fake. Nobody likes a total sellout either. I don’t even doubt that a Republican would have too much problem voting for a RINO for the sake of party unity if there weren’t so many of them. At some point, compromise becomes surrender. You risk gaining a solid chance at turning a leftie vote your way, but also turning away a guaranteed vote from your core.

    I don’t completely discount what you say. Early and Farris may have put off a good number of voters out of a percieved view that they would be hard core social conservatives bringing us to a theocracy. After Jim & Tammy Faye Baker and other scandals revolving around leaders of large scale religious right groups, I could understand a backlash. Even McDonnell, who trys to win the middle, suffers from a past where he supported making it a felony to engage in oral sex. I’m sure most married couples were unaware that they were unconvicted felons.

    Do you think the moderate democrats that happen to be gay will ever forget McDonnell’s part on that? No matter how much he runs left? I’m betting a high percentage of gay people were aware of that state sodomy law that included oral sex as opposed to straights. Don’t you think they have some influence in the moderates. Not all gay people are militant extremeists ya know, and they do hold influence. How do you think somebody can run from one polar extreme to the other with any credibility? You lose your core votes as you betray them and you never had a chance with many lefties to start with. Will an environut choose McDonnell over Moran? Can you “out Clinton” a Terry McAuliffe?

    However, the environment that left many good social conservatives DOA in any political race has changed quite a bit and should no longer be used as a scape goat. for losing. Attacking and demeaning social conservatives based on religious views is pointless, lacking class, and wrong. I saw some of that in the overthrow of Frederick and found it disgusting.

    Serve Virginia! Most Virginians will see that as a positive. Pandering only brings you so much. Then you have to prove yourself.

  • Another Conservative/Independent

    McDonnell has been asked about the comments reported the last couple of days from Mullins’ speech in Va. Beach badmouthing Obama, Kaine and Webb He said they were “incendiary”. Just read this on Tertium Quids site.

    I figured McDonnell would be asked. Real helpful, huh?

  • Darrell — Chesapeake

    It’s just meaningless posturing.

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