If you are a moderate Republican, the message should be clear: your party does not want you.
Well, that isn't always entirely true. Some have no problem taking your vote providing you understand they will be openly hostile towards you while others take steps to bring you in line. Republican Senators, for example, just passed a new rule designed specifically to marginalize the voices of their own moderates.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans approved a little noticed (at least by me) rule change which allows the caucus leader to make committee appointments instead of the previous method of having members choose based on their seniority in the chamber. It may sound innocent enough, but it's not.
"I think it raises concerns about people constantly jockeying for position or worrying that their votes are going to be used against them," Collins said.[...]
Nobody could lose a committee assignment. But, for example, anyone who wanted to move from the Banking Committee to the Appropriations Committee, which decides where the federal government spends its money, would have to please the caucus leader.
"It's not a benign issue," Snowe said. "It's not just moderates, it's anybody who has a dissenting view. That is held as a weapon. There's no question."
After spending 16 years in the House minority, Snowe said her party won the majority in 1994, when she won her Senate seat, because it was seen as the party of ideas and innovation. She argued that changing rules to punish dissidents at a time of growing majorities is a sign of weakness, not of strength.
"Are we going to punish people who don't stand in lockstep?" Snowe asked. "Are we going to punish people who have diverse views within our party?"
Yes, Senator Snowe, the Republicans will punish those who have diverse views.
And in case you think Snowe and Collins are overreacting, Trent Lott is blunt about the reason for the change: