…is that they are no longer republicans. I’m talking about “the party” and republican elected officeholders, not individual members.
I have been a republican…a PROUD republican…all my life. Even as a teenager in the 70’s when most of my school aquaintances were more interested in long hair and smoking pot my hair was “corporate correct”, I wore slacks and a starched white shirt to school, and had a Cross pen and pencil set in my pocket. I didn’t have a pocket protector (remember them?), but everything else about me screamed NERD, including the black, plastic rimmed glasses. Boring, eh?
I first ran for public office at 17 years of age, and while the city council elections in Valdosta, GA were non-partisan at that time, I introduced myself…proudly…as a republican…no small decision in the then solidly democrat rural southern half of a democrat southern state.
I did think, not just follow the party line. I even voted for some democrats, most notably Sen. Sam Nunn, one of the smartest voting choices I’ve ever made, but for the most part I voted republican, and I’m glad of it.
Now I have republican friends that accuse me of trying to destroy the republican party because I self-describe as a tea party minded, mostly libertarian, independent. When I point out that republicans can no longer be differentiated from democrats, except on rare occasion, they are affronted, as though I had attacked them personally, and they quickly point to the republican party platform…a platform I mostly agree with…and they tell me that THAT is what the republican party stands for, and that they, not the elected officials, not Michael Steele, are the republican party.
I’m sorry, but my republican friends are wrong.
A platform is nothing but a list of words unless those elected under it act within its precepts, and republican elected officials often don’t. Elected officials give lip service to the party platform…just long enough to get elected before abandoning their principles.
As for the “party” consisting of rank and file members, doing their bidding, my friends are wrong there as well. To “the party”, and Michael Steele and other republican leaders, the rank and file membership is looked at much like congress looks at citizens…as open checkbooks that are supposed to give and give and give, regardless of how far the “party” strays from its stated, but not followed, beliefs.
These are serious allegations…you must ask what I base this on, right? Let’s list a few of the ways party leaders talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
The republican party platform is anti-abortion…right? Republicans are also supposed to be anti-union and against card check too. It would follow that a party icon like Newt Gingrich would be anti-abortion, anti-union, and anti-card check as well. After all, he SAYS he is anti-abortion, anti-union, and anti-card check…but what do his actions say?
Well, in November of 2009 there was a special election in upstate New York’s 23’rd congressional district to fill a vacant seat. Three candidates were on the ballot…a pro-abortion, pro-union, pro-card check democrat, a pro-abortion, pro-union, pro-card check republican, and a member of the Conservative Party of NY, one of the few third party groups that actually elect folks in any state, who was anti-abortion, anti-union, and anti-card check, just like Gingrich SAYS he is.
Now…given his stated beliefs, who would a principled Newt Gingrich support? According to the words that come out of his mouth one would expect him to support the anti-abortion conservative, right?
Well…he didn’t. Mr. Republican Icon, Newt Gingrich, chose party over principle and supported the pro-abortion, pro-union, pro-card check republican.
What about core republican beliefs beyond platform issues? Beliefs like small, constitutionally limited, unobtrusive government? For that let’s look to another republican leader for an example. Let’s look at George Bush (the son, not the father).
When he first ran for president, Bush said that education was constitutionally the business of the states, not the federal government (he was right), and that he would do away with the federal department of education as president, turning education back over to the states, where it belongs. Eight years later, when he left office, he had done such a good job doing as he said he would that the department of education had grown just a bit. Actually, more than just a bit…it had tripled in size and quadrupled in budget. So much for the “small, constitutional government” Bush said he believed in.
Here in Georgia I have a senator named Saxby Chambliss who would have you believe he is a small government republican…but his voting record in congress tells a different story. He has recently voted FOR budgets that brought federal bacon to Georgia…bacon for sidewalks in a small Georgia town and bacon for upgrading internet access infrastructure in the north Georgia area. I fail to see how a republican who claims to be a proponent of small, unobtrusive, constitutional government can ask a taxpayer in Sioux Falls, SD to pay for a sidewalk or DSL line in Georgia that he will never use.
After looking at elected officials I look at the Republican National Party…the organization. I see party leadership, leadership of a party that likes to claim the moral high ground, wooing a high-dollar donor with party-paid-for trips to bondage oriented strip clubs. I see an elected party leader, Michael Steele, playing the race card, blaming criticism of himself on racial issues rather than admit, and face, his own shortcomings. I see Steele patronizing the tea partiers, treating them like red-headed step children who have gone astray and need to be brought back to the light.
I see a party whose contact with me is always…EVERY SINGLE TIME…always asking me for money, before even telling me why I should support them. Every letter is a fund-raising letter. Every email is a fund-raising email. Every phone bank telephone call is a request for money.
I see a party that spent 68 percent of its funds…$74 million of $109 million collected in the last reporting period…on fundraising activities like lavish hotels and food, alcoholic beverages, limousines, and fancy gifts to donors…and don’t tell me “well, the democrats do it too”.
That’s the whole point…there is no longer a difference between republicans and democrats…in political actions, in responsiveness to regular party members, or in ethics.
Well, I have news for the party…I’m done.
Never again will I give a single penny to the party…I’ll give my monetary support to individual candidates AFTER they convince me their small, unobtrusive, constitutional talk is more than talk…that it will be backed by their actions. I’ll give my support to individual candidates who put principle ahead of party.
To paraphrase Zell Miller when he broke from the democrat party a few years ago and spoke at the republican national convention…
I’m not leaving the republican party. The republican party left me.
- Newt Gingrich has no support in Georgia or Tweets older than eight months (salon.com)
- Lincoln Mitchell: Republican Positioning for 2012 (huffingtonpost.com)
- Why The GOP Needs Palin And Gingrich (forbes.com)