Want to raise the blood pressure of a moderate Republican? Just talk about those on the political right who expect 100 percent adherence to what are generally accepted to be conservative principles. Moderate Republicans prickle at the thought of the conservative base demanding that GOP leaders and candidates agree with them on every issue. In fact, the topic often sparks off-the-record remarks that are decidedly immoderate.
To an extent, moderates have good reason to shake their fists at the base’s demand for purity. There are complex issues which, in all honesty, come down to judgment calls. Even more prevalent are specific political circumstances under which sticking to the so-called principled position could lead to consequences the conservative base would find even more detestable than moderate alternatives.