This week I made a little news by not being “pure enough,” if you will, by College Republican standards. I was invited to speak at George Washington University on February 9 by numerous campus groups, including the George Washington College Republicans and Allied in Pride, an LGBT organization. I take great pride in being one of the few people who brings together the gay community and Republican groups. But somewhere between my accepting their invitation and my presence coinciding with Marriage Equality Week, GW’s College Republicans bailed.
Any organization asking for “purification” from something just feels innately creepy and a little sinister.
They subsequently put out a statement saying: “Ms. McCain’s views on marriage equality align with neither the Republican Party nor her father’s personal stance. Though we fully supported John McCain’s candidacy for president, we feel that Meghan McCain’s last name is not near as important as the message she advocates.”
Seriously, how many 25-year-old women do you know that have the exact same world view as their 73-year-old fathers? Besides, a simple Google search would have tipped off these young Republicans to my very vocal and active support of LGBT rights and marriage equality in this country.
And let’s call a spade a spade here—this is about marriage equality. I would have been less insulted if the George Washington College Republicans had simply come out and said that. By the way, I am still speaking at the university. (After some miscommunication about being disinvited, the young Republicans simply reneged on their sponsorship.) And I am very grateful and honored to be able to talk about where I see the future of the party. Which is exactly what my speech is about—the future and my generation of Republicans. It’s not a speech about marriage equality (although that topic is mentioned) but rather how I came to believe what I believe about the GOP and where I hope the future leads.
I call the talk, “Redefining Republican: No Labels, No Boxes, No Stereotypes,” but apparently some student organizations feel more comfortable being able to group all Republicans into one place.
All of this drama smacks of the Republican Party’s so-called purity test, which caused a lot of controversy last year. In November, an email circulated around the RNC asking members for comments on a proposal that all Republicans must pass a litmus test in order to receive financial support from the party. It was based on the idea that President Reagan “believed that anyone that agreed with him eight out of 10 times was his friend, not his opponent.” If you agree with eight of the 10 statements on the purity test, you’re apparently the right kind of Republican.
You can imagine how I feel about that idea. Other than the fact that I believe a political party should foster new ideas and encourage widespread support, the word “purity” alone gives me an uneasy feeling. Any organization asking for “purification” from something just feels innately creepy and a little sinister.
So, feeling a little vexed by the GW incident, I took the purity test. I went online to see just exactly how radical I am from the “pure ones.” Because I wanted to see by the GOP’s own standards just how “moderate” I really am.
Just for the record, here are the questions and my answers. The 10 questions are, do you believe in:
1. Smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes by opposing bills like Obama's "stimulus" bill.
Yes, of course. This is one of the central pillars of being a Republican.
2. Market-based health-care reform and opposition to Obama-style government-run health care.
Yes. I am against universal health care. Especially until we figure out how are we going to pay for it.
3. Market-based energy reforms by opposing cap-and-trade legislation.
Yes and no. I believe in climate change and support market-based energy reforms. I also support cap-and-trade legislation, in theory. But I oppose, as my father says, Obama’s “cap and tax” plan. The Obama administration has used this to tax people instead of encouraging the exploration of new technology. As it is, this philosophy has turned into something that could adversely affect our economy.
So put me down for half a “no.”
4. Workers' right to secret ballot by opposing card check.
Yes. Of course.
5. Legal immigration and assimilation into American society by opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants.
As this question is phrased, I have to disagree again—with half of it. First, we have to secure our borders. There is a huge problem with drug cartels. Then we need a temporary-worker program, and then we have to address other aspects of immigration.
But I grew up in a border state. I think immigration is an essential part of American history and American culture. And amnesty comes with a lot of gray areas. So again, put me down for half a no.
6. Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan by supporting military-recommended troop surges.
Absolutely. This is probably the issue I am most passionate about.
7. Containment of Iraq and North Korea, particularly effective action to eliminate their nuclear-weapons threat.
8. Retention of the Defense of Marriage Act;
Here it is. No. As we all know, I’m a huge supporter of marriage equality.
9. Protecting the lives of vulnerable people by opposing health-care rationing and denial of health care and government funding of abortion.
Yes. I am pro-life.
10. The right to keep and bear arms by opposing government restrictions on gun ownership.
Yes. And I am a proud member of the NRA.
So there you have it, my fellow Republicans. One “pure” no and two half-nos equals 8 out of 10. So I passed. I passed this ridiculous “purity test” and apparently even President Reagan himself would have considered me a friend. But something tells me a passing grade still won’t put the negativity to rest. Because as I have said before, when it comes to separating moderates and conservatives, one of the key issues is marriage equality. If that is going to be the one issue that Republicans continue to use to divide the party, then perhaps they should be putting out an entirely different test—one that has one question only.
Until then, is it too much to ask that the Republican Party be more open-minded, that it learns to respect and accept conservatism without labels and boxes and stereotypes?
Because that’s what I want for the GOP. And I’m a pure Republican.
Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com.