Modern conservatives see compromise as violating principle and working with Democrats as a sign of weakness, and that's largely what's stoking the Cochran-McDaniel GOP primary race for U.S. Senate.

The Republican establishment swooped in so swiftly and united to decapitate Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel that they've alienated other good soldiers by insinuating they're whack-jobs too if they don't fall in line immediately without discussing the
$18 trillion national debt.

Sen. Cochran, in his sixth term, is the first Republican in Mississippi history popularly elected to the U.S. Senate. He was elected to bring home the bacon and that's what he's done for a poor state struggling for its share.

While even Republicans have whined over the years about spending and the debt, there is no doubt federal spending helps drive the Mississippi economy and that's why the Senator remains largely popular, even among Mississippi Democrats.

For every $1 Mississippi sends to Washington, we get $3 back.

To be sure, Mr. Cochran isn't the problem, it's 50-plus years of liberalism and failed social policies that are bankrupting the country.

Now it would do the Senator a world of good to utter a sentence or two in his campaign advertising about cutting spending and reigning in government when Republicans take back the Senate, indicating how capable he is, as one of the most humble public servants on the planet, of listening to his constituency.

An honest GOP discussion would look at non-discretionary (roads, bridges, airports) and entitlements (Social Security and Medicaid) spending.

The entitlements comprise 45 percent of the budget, while the military is about 19 percent. Transportation makes up only about 3 percent.

But Mr. McDaniel has an appealing message, especially to those who feel Washington doesn't listen to them and is spending too much money. He wants to cut spending and reign in government and is adamant about it, but he hasn't been too specific.

Liberals saw to it long ago that "Tea Party" bears a nasty connotation associated with the fringe. The GOP establishment has, sadly, piled on since December.

But the truth is, many traditional fiscal conservatives remain frustrated too. Some may or may not vote GOP in the future.

What's important for GOP strategists to understand is that these frustrated voters may or may not identify with the so-called fringe groups, or the modern conservatives. Many are traditional conservatives that, like the Founders, saw government as the enemy and knew all to well the dangers of the state imposing religion and restraining speech.

As far as winning elections, it's like separating the wheat from the chaff for the GOP.

A political agenda that lacks any will to compromise like the modern conservatives is fatal.

A position so arrogant it demonizes good and useful soldiers is equally fatal to the establishment.

Moderates - reasonably right, perhaps we say - will play a pivotal role in this Senate primary and in future U.S. elections or the country is headed for full-blown socialism.

Mr. Cochran, while leading most polls, is in trouble, his campaign knows it and national attention is turning to this race. Many of these national political pundits believe a Cochran loss will cost Republicans a chance to retake the Senate.

Mr. McDaniel has his own set of troubles. Apparently he believes things he said on a talk radio show he hosted a decade ago aren't up for scrutiny - things that don't sound good coming out of the mouth of a man who wants to be a United States Senator.

A low turnout will benefit Mr. McDaniel, a high turnout, Sen. Cochran.

Little good will come from the current GOP bloodbath, but perhaps a clearer picture of the candidates will emerge. The infighting could hand the Democrats a victory in November along with the U.S. Senate.

Therefore, these times require extraordinary leadership, and voters should take pains to educate themselves beyond the contentious television ads and smooth talk.