Conservatives snub Bush
Washington - The patriarch of US conservatives urged his followers on Sunday to halt their financial support of the Republican Party and start an independent movement, creating a major political shift that could result in heavy losses for the US ruling party in upcoming elections.
Richard Viguerie, who was instrumental in cementing the winning coalitions behind Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George W Bush in 2000, declared that conservatives were "downright fed up" with both the president and congressional Republicans and should strike out on their own.
"At the very least, conservatives must stop funding the Republican National Committee and other party groups," Viguerie wrote in a lengthy essay in The Washington Post.
He suggested conservatives "redirect their anger into building a third force - not a third party, but a movement independent of any party" and lay the groundwork for the 2008 election campaign, hoping that a new generation of conservative leaders will emerge by then.
Traditional conservatives, who abhor big government and excessive spending, equate abortion with murder and emphasize individualism over collectivism, have always formed the so-called "base" of the Republican Party and determined its viability as a political organisations.
The integrity and loyalty of this core is considered key to the party's success in any election.
Viguerie's public outburst against both Bush and his congressional allies as well as his suggestion that conservatives should sit out the next election is seen as another ominous sign for the party less than six months before the November congressional vote.
A Washington Post-ABC News opinion poll released last week found that Republican disapproval of Bush's presidency had increased from 16 percent to 30 percent in just one month.
Viguerie acknowledged that a conservative boycott in November will likely spell defeat for the Republicans, but insisted it would be for the long-term good of the conservative movement.
"If conservatives accept the idea that we must support Republicans no matter what they do, we give up our bargaining position and any chance at getting things done," he reasoned. "Sometimes it is better to stand on principle and suffer a temporary defeat."