May 24, 2007
Does McKay know what GOP is about?

John McKay deservedly catches heat on this blog for his action, or lack thereof, with regard to the 2004 gubernatorial race. When McKay was speaking at the Mainstream Republicans conference this past Sunday, I was in Richland at the Evergreen Leadership conservative grassroots conference. But I did read the information on this blog, and in the Seattle press, about McKay's remarks.

Seattle P-I reporter Neil Modie says that McKay was "well received" when he told the Mainstream audience, "We raise abortion up on the flagpole every single time to create dissension, to create some line that has nothing to do with what Republicans are about."

Ronald Reagan had a better idea of "what Republicans are about." The King County, Washington State, and National GOP platforms reflect the pro-life views of the party membership and grassroots, reflected (for example) in the following five quotes from President Reagan on the subject of protecting the unborn:

Debate with John Anderson, 9/21/80
I think all of us should have a respect for innocent life. With regard to the freedom of the individual for choice with regard to abortion, there's one individual who's not being considered at all. That's the one who is being aborted. And I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born. I I think that, technically, I know this is a difficult and an emotional problem, and many people sincerely feel on both sides of this, but I do believe that maybe we could find the answer through medical evidence, if we would determine once and for all, is an unborn child a human being? I happen to believe it is.

State of the Union, 1/25/84
During our first 3 years, we have joined bipartisan efforts to restore protection of the law to unborn children. Now, I know this issue is very controversial. But unless and until it can be proven that an unborn child is not a living human being, can we justify assuming without proof that it isn't? No one has yet offered such proof; indeed, all the evidence is to the contrary. We should rise above bitterness and reproach, and if Americans could then we could find positive solutions to the tragedy of abortion.

Debate with Walter Mondale, 10/7/84
I believe that until and unless someone can establish that the unborn child is not a living human being, then that child is already protected by the Constitution, which guarantees life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all of us. And I think that this is - what we should concentrate on, is trying - I know there was weeks and weeks of testimony before a Senate committee. There were medical authorities, there were religious, there were clerics there, everyone talking about this matter, of pro-life. And at the end of all of that, not one shred of evidence was introduced that the unborn child was not alive. We have seen premature births that- are now grown up happy people going around. Also there is a strange dichotomy in this whole position about our court's ruling that abortion is not the taking of a human life. In California, some time ago, a man beat a woman so savagely that her unborn child was born dead with a fractured skull. And the California state legislature unanimously passed a law that was signed by the then Democratic Governor, signed a law that said that any man who so abuses a pregnant woman that he causes the death of her unborn child shall be charged with murder. Now isn't it strange that that same woman could have taken the life of her unborn child and it was abortion and not murder but if somebody else does it, that's murder. And it recognizes, it used the term death of the unborn child. So this has been my feeling about abortion, that we have a problem now to determine. And all the evidence so far comes down on the side of the unborn child being a living human being.

State of the Union, 2/6/85
The question of abortion grips our nation. Abortion is either the taking of a human life or it isn't. And if it is--and medical technology is increasingly showing it is--it must be stopped. It is a terrible irony that while some turn to abortion, so many others who cannot become parents cry out for children to adopt. We have room for these children. We can fill the cradles of those who want a child to love. And tonight I ask you in the Congress to move this year on legislation to protect the unborn.

State of the Union, 1/25/88
Tonight, I call America--a good nation, a moral people--to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman's right to control of her own body: Can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all Federal funding for abortion and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense. But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them.

Posted by BerenForCongress at May 24, 2007 11:32 AM | Email This
1. Great post, Steve. The GOP needs some reminders of what the GOP is supposed to stand for (odd that those comments were "well received" at a conference of Republicans) We also need a presidential candidate who isn't afraid to stand up for what's right. Of course, we won't ever have another Ronald Reagan, but we should look for the candidate who stands for those principles.

Posted by: Michelle on May 24, 2007 10:17 PM
2. Mr. Berens, who was at the Mainstream Conference the day before Mr. McKay's presentation, seems to have missed the point of the rest of what Mr. McKay was saying. That's what happens when you take things out of context...

What McKay was focusing on was the necessity for the GOP to be a "big-tent" party. When we exclude groups from the party for not being "Republican enough" it guarantees that there will never be Republican majorities in a state like Washington.

One of the key reasons for the existence of Mainstream is to build a majority of focused on private enterprise and good (and small) government services. Without building the Republican coalition, the WA state GOP can look at another few decades out of power (it has already been 27 years since the last GOP gov was elected here).

Being open-minded and welcoming rather than exclusionary is the way forward.

Posted by: Anthony on May 27, 2007 03:05 PM
3. Anthony, you are right to urge people to consider the complete meaning and context of John McKay's remarks to the Mainstream Conference.

The complete video of McKay's speech is available online from TVW at

Also, the full text of the Seattle P-I report on McKay's comments are available online at

People should listen to the whole speech, and people should read the entire article, in my opinion.

The Seattle P-I article, entitled "Moderate Republicans lend sympathetic ears to McKay blasts," says (in part):

"More applause came when he recited his Republican Party credentials and declared his fealty to GOP principles but criticized some of the party's tactics:

"'What we've done is take issues like gay marriage and rubbed people's noses in it. ... We raise abortion up on the flagpole every single time to create dissension, to create some line that has nothing to do with what Republicans are about. We should accept people into the party who have divergent views, on immigration, on gay marriage.'

"Those remarks were well received by the Mainstream Republicans, who largely shun conservative activists' focus on divisive social issues."

McKay's comments deserve to be taken seriously, and should not be taken out of context. You are right about that, Anthony.

In a second post a few minutes from now, I will comment on the other issues you raised in your post.

Posted by: Steve Beren on May 27, 2007 05:52 PM
4. Anthony, you indicated that McKay was making the point that we should not "exclude groups from the party for not being 'Republican enough.'" You further argue in favor of "building the Republican coalition," noting that "(b)eing open-minded and welcoming rather than exclusionary is the way forward." On these points, I don't disagree with you or McKay.

I'm a fiscal conservative, foreign policy conservative, social conservative, and immigration conservative. I strongly support the planks in the King County, Washington State, and National GOP platforms that reflect the pro-life views of the party membership and grassroots.

Certainly, there are some Republicans who disagree with the pro-life plank and/or other parts of the platform. They should not be excluded - not at all. I encourage those Republicans to work for Republican candidates despite disagreements. After all, when you consider such issues as lower taxes, economic growth, property rights, school choice, stopping illegal immigration, and defeating Islamic fascism - the Republican Party stands head and shoulders above the Democratic Party alternative.

In my campaign against Jim McDermott, I was endorsed by Dino Rossi, Rob McKenna, Mike McGavick, Jennifer Dunn, Toby Nixon, and all four GOP members of the King County Council. Among my endorsers were people closely associated with the Mainstream Republicans, such as Slade Gorton, Sam Reed, and the late Norm Maleng. My endorsements also included the Human Life Political Action Committee, Stefan Sharkansky, and Jim Nobles. Some of those endorsing my campaign did not agree with some of my political positions, but they correctly supported me in my effort against Jim McDermott.

Likewise, I campaigned vigorously for the entire Republican ticket in 2006, even though I disagreed with some positions taken by some candidates.

Finally, with regard to the pro-life issue and McKay's statement that "We raise abortion up on the flagpole every single time to create dissension, to create some line that has nothing to do with what Republicans are about," I simply and strongly disagree with McKay. Readers of this blog are again referred to the quotes from President Reagan in my original post.

The pro-life stance of the Republican national, state, and county platforms is a correct stance. It is not a source of "dissension," but a point of unity and central to what Republicans are about.

As for myself, I am committed to the protection of innocent, unborn human life. Our Declaration of Independence proclaims that people are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness." We have many rights, but it is no accident that our founding document lists the "right to life" first of all.

McKay's views should be considered in context, and my views should be considered in context. For that matter, very strong consideration should be given to the views that were expressed by President Reagan. In any case, the divergent views at issue are part of the larger discussion and debate about how best to build a powerful and successful Republican coalition.

Posted by: Steve Beren on May 27, 2007 06:32 PM
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