THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

GOP Purity Test Echoes Berlin in 1933

"Providence" is a term we overuse to explain those times when everything works out in spite of impossible odds. But more often than not, Providence is mistaken for undeserved "dumb luck." When Obama gave his Afghanistan war escalation speech last week, it appeared that he was on his way toward sealing both his fate and the fate of Democratic candidates running for re-election between now and 2012. In 33 minutes, he eliminated most of his Progressive base. The problem with that is that those are the people who got him elected in 2008.

Then on Wednesday after that speech, Obama and the Democrats were dealt one of those "dumb luck" cards. The Republican National Committee began showing stronger support for new guidelines about how obedient a Republican must be in order to run for office. When Republicans introduced what they titled, Resolution on Reagan's Unity Principle for Support of Candidates, most of us giggled and concluded that it was great material for Comedy Central. No one believed that it would have had a life span longer than that of a fruit fly. As it goes, dumb luck might actually trump Obama's bad judgment because the resolution proposed by the GOP's fringe is building strength.

The fringers have developed the term "RINO" which means Republican In Name Only. There is a powerful GOP movement to exile RINOs and attract obedient monkeys. In their minds, that will create a more orderly animal farm.

Here's where Democrats might get a break in spite of Obama: The tea partying fringe has new standards for their candidates. They are very specific about how a Republican candidate must think in order to be acceptable to their new GOP. A Republican candidate will have to meet 8 out of 10 requirements on economic and social issues in order to be considered a true Republican. Heretics need not apply. It is no less than the kind of "purity" test a GOP candidate might expect if they were applying for a leadership position in the "Sons of the Confederacy." The last time we saw a political party demand ideological purity was Berlin 1933. It did not end well. One GOP candidate who obviously felt foolish endorsing this new political purity was Dede Scozzafava. She was the Republican that tea partiers forced out of the race in the 23rd Congressional district in upstate New York. Dede was not a fringe purist pedigree. Democrats won that seat that has been controlled by Republicans for 160 years. The dumb luck for Democrats is that the zealots now shaping Republican ideology would rather lose than allow their candidates to think for themselves. In order to pass the lunatic litmus test, a GOP candidate is not allowed to have their own opinion about issues like union organizing, climate change legislation, troop and spending escalation in Iraq, health care reform and a half dozen other complex issues that should demand creative thinking by legislators.

Within the last decade, the GOP has shown disdain for even minimal intellectualism. Finally, they have memorialized their flat-earth style of politics by demanding that their candidates stop thinking and swear a purity oath. Regardless of whether it's providence or dumb luck at work here, Obama should be grateful.