Friday, October 5, 2012

Why I Will Not Be Voting Republican For The Foreseeable Future

No, I didn’t watch the debate the other night.  Why should I have?  I’ve been paying attention for years, not minutes.  I could have written that debate ahead of time.

Presidential debates stopped being anything other than carefully scripted dog and pony shows decades ago, and in our sound-bite gotcha-now who-can-spin-things-faster political culture here in the 21st century this has only gotten worse.  If you haven’t figured out who stands for what by this point, the finely-honed ambiguous non-responses to blandly innocuous questions that are the stock in trade of such things – punctuated by carefully rehearsed ad-lib zingers – aren’t going to help.

Plus, to judge from the responses of those who did sit through it, the event fell into a predictable pattern of Democratic passivity in the face of a Republican avalanche of truculence and ideological fantasy.  I’ve seen that movie.  It’s been playing pretty much nonstop for the last four years.  I know how it goes.

The main reason I didn’t watch, however, is that, while I don’t necessarily know who I will be voting for in any given race, I do know who I will not under any circumstances be voting for.  For any office.  At any level of government.

For most of my political life, I was an independent.

I have been registered as both a Republican and a Democrat over the years, depending on what the primary situation was like wherever I happened to be.  In an all-Republican area I was a Republican; in a place where everyone else was a Democrat, so was I.  When the primary is the only election that matters for most races, you do what you have to in order to make your voice heard.  But that was an administrative matter, not a change of heart.

This wasn’t the wishy-washy sort of independent that says, “Both parties are exactly the same, who can tell the difference, why should I pick one?”  That is an astonishingly lazy and ill-informed way to look at things and anyone who tells you that with a straight face is a buffoon who can be safely ignored in all political matters.

Nor was it the cynical or arrogant sort of independent that says, “They’re both awful and a plague upon both their houses and I could not possibly lower myself to be counted as either of them.”  Moral purity is a luxury given to those without responsibilities.  You have to find a side.

No, my being an independent drew from the fact that I looked at both parties and genuinely felt that there was something I valued being represented by each party.  At least there was for most of my political life, anyway.

I’ve always been more hawkish than my more liberal friends, for example.  The military is a tool, and when used properly – with restraint, with courage, with the kind of intense planning for both combat operations and post-combat needs that is morally demanded of anyone who intentionally puts others in harm’s way – it can be both effective and just. 

I’m also a fiscal conservative at heart – you pay for the services you demand and you don’t push debts onto your grandchildren – and I am a great believer in the right of the individual to be left alone with his or her moral choices, which at one point not too long ago was the heart of what Americans called “conservative.”

That’s not what it means to be Conservative in the traditional sense, but that’s another blog post.  In fact, I think I’ve already written that blog post.  We have right wing Liberals and left wing Liberals in this country – have since the 1820s – and we call the first group “conservative” and the second group “liberal” largely for rhetorical convenience and that’s just one more way the US insists on not fitting in with the rest of the world.

On the other hand, I am far more socially liberal than my conservative friends.  I am a firm believer in human rights – whether described as civil rights, equal rights, or some other catch phrase used by the powerful to disguise the fact that women, gays, blacks and other marginalized groups are actually people – and I have always been clear on the self-evident fact that we are all in this together and had damned well better act like it if we want this country to live up to its own founding ideals (which ideals, having earned a PhD in the subject, I am quite sure I can identify better than most people, so if anyone out there is planning on planning to yell at me on that score please keep that fact in mind, particularly as my “suffering fools gladly” gland seems to have withered into a nonfunctioning condition of late and my response will be … unambiguous). 

Further, I believe in the power of government to improve society and I’m informed enough to know that this has been a constant fact throughout American history. 

Most of American prosperity has come from the use of political power to achieve social and economic ends, and anyone who says otherwise has no grasp of history.  Western settlement?  Sponsored by the government.  Railroads?  Paid for with tax dollars.  Highways and infrastructure?  Public money.  The internet?  DOD project.  And on and on. 

Most American justice has also come from the use of political power to achieve social and economic ends as well.  It was the government that ended slavery, not the free market.  Slavery was, in fact, quite profitable and growing more so at the dawn of the Civil War.  It was the government that curbed the rapacious excesses of the Gilded Age and forced corporations to be less thuggish toward the people who made them function.  It has been the government that has worked to level the playing field for basically everyone who isn’t straight, white, male and wealthy.  Private interests had little or nothing to contribute to those struggles, and quite a bit to contribute against them. 

The fact that there are a lot of ignorant people out there loudly shouting nonsense about the evils of government and the pristine virtue of market capitalism, many of whom are running for office today, is an indictment of modern American political life, not a refutation of my position.

So I’ve been in the middle most of my life.  Indeed, the first twenty-plus years of my political life, I never managed to vote a straight ticket in any non-primary election, despite never missing one.  I found the candidates for political office who most agreed with what I wanted them to agree with, whichever party they happened to claim to represent, and I voted for them. 

As we slide down the greased banister of politics toward the big round testicle-level newel at the bottom that is the impending election, however, it occurs to me that I can now save myself the trouble of investigating individual candidates, because an entire group of them have taken themselves out of serious consideration.

As of right now, I simply cannot foresee a time when I would voluntarily cast a ballot for a Republican candidate for any office, no matter how inconsequential.  Even if I know that candidate to be a decent and honorable person individually, the fact that they have seen fit to tie themselves to that howling morass of a party would outweigh any such consideration – nobody running on the Republican ticket today is worth my vote for that reason alone, regardless of any other factors. 

It’s as simple as that. 

This is a shame.  The United States in general and our political system in particular need an organized, responsible, adult voice for conservatives to make themselves heard.  Conservatives serve the useful function of putting a brake on the random undirected enthusiasms of liberals, in the way that liberals serve the useful function of kicking conservatives out of their deep dark caves.  The two sides need each other.  Unfortunately the Republican Party has abdicated its responsibility to be responsible and adult.  It has rushed headlong into the realm of batshit insanity thinly disguised as … well, more batshit insanity, really.  It has mounted a savage attack on all who do not adhere to the new, extremist, ideological purity demanded of its members and has expelled any who dare dissent from the party line.  In doing so it has become a malignant caricature of its former self.  There is no responsible voice for conservatives in the US in 2012.  None. 

Unless you count Barack Obama, who is essentially Dwight Eisenhower without the Army uniform.

There would have to be a wholesale shift in the ideology, platform and base of the Republican Party before any responsible adult could possibly consider voting Republican, and I just don’t see that happening without a seismic and cataclysmic blow to their organizational structure.  They have to lose and lose convincingly – they need to be shattered on the rock of their own malfeasance, ignorance, and treachery – before responsible conservatives can return and turn it into something useful again.

Until then, no.  Just, no.

It occurs to me that a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that I should declare the causes which impel me to this separation.

The problem with doing so, of course, is two-fold. 

First, there is the fact that the sheer volume of evidence makes such a declaration unwieldy.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time going through a nine-point list of reasons why the Republican Party has abdicated its responsibilities as an American institution, why it should not be trusted with any political power at any level of government, and why the United States will be better off when its current incarnation is demolished and rebuilt back to some form of responsible conservative politics, and you know – it got really, really long.  Each of those nine points was an entire multi-thousand word blog post of its own, complete with graphs, charts and a pile of facts that towered high enough to threaten to blot out the sun.  Perhaps I will post them individually at some point, but not now.

And second, beyond my own satisfaction at having it all there in one place, there’s little point to listing all that evidence when you get right down to it.  The modern Republican Party, as a group, has amply demonstrated that it has little regard for reality or facts – this is the party currently campaigning against the very existence of fact-checkers, after all, and the one that dismissively condemned the “reality-based community” a few years back.  More evidence won’t help.  And the reality-based community (what a marvelous phrase!) already agrees with me.  There is only so much preaching to the choir one can do before they fall asleep too.

But perhaps it would be worthwhile to set out the nine points, at least.  So here they are.  Bear in mind that these are the edited versions, with most of the supporting evidence held in reserve.

I will not vote for any Republican for any office at any time in the foreseeable future because:

1. I believe in fiscal responsibility.

The fact that the Republican Party trades on its reputation for fiscal accountability and responsibility is one of the great con jobs of modern politics.  By almost any measure, the current financial catastrophe is almost entirely due to the mismanagement of the Republicans over the last thirty to forty years.  Debt has increased far more under Republican leadership than Democratic leadership.  Deficits have been greater.  Spending has been wilder.  And the numbers bear this out.  The fact that Obama had to spend in order to clean up the mess left by the Republicans – and do so in the face of fanatically partisan resistance to anything that might help the nation as a whole rather than just the Republican Party – does not change that.

Further, Republicans have shown themselves utterly unwilling to pay for any of their spending.  They refuse even to discuss taxes, to the point where they deliberately damaged the credit rating of the United States of America in a juvenile partisan spat over a routine financial measure that they themselves used repeatedly when they were in charge.  And as of 2008, the most recent numbers I could find, Republicans controlled 16 of the top 25 tax-consuming states (and 7 of the top 10), while 10 of the top 11 tax-donating states were controlled by Democrats.  Republicans have no problem taking tax money from others.  But paying their fair share?  Not on your life. 

Because the Republican Party is wildly irresponsible when it comes to money, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

2. I believe in a strong military.

Over the last several decades the Republican Party has paid a fair amount of lip service to the US military, but has provided precious little in the way of actual support beyond weighting it down with shiny new playthings, occasionally against the wishes of the military itself.  They have thrown the military around the world in a series of poorly planned wars fought with little sense of what would happen once the shooting stopped.  They have skimped on necessary equipment that wasn’t shiny enough, skimmed off the profits for private mercenary forces run by their corporate supporters, and abandoned the veterans who return to the US having paid the price for Republican adventurism.  They treat the military like a toy rather than a tool, without regard for the consequences to the US economy, the larger picture of US security in the world, or the long-term sustainability of US power.  Waving a flag around and blowing things up is no substitute for strategic thinking.

Because the bottom line is that the US is now weaker and less secure thanks to the actions and policies of the Republican Party, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

3. I believe that strong communities are essential to American society.

The modern Republican Party has fallen under the thrall of the cult of Ayn Rand, a mediocre science fiction author whose works glorify unrestrained selfishness as the only true path to nirvana.  Combine that with the latent libertarianism inherent in the standard definition of American conservatism and you have a recipe for disaster.

You cannot build a community out of atomized individuals.  All you get when you try is a Darwinian struggle for survival, which is ironic coming from a party that so loudly declares its disbelief in Darwin.  But it accurately describes the vicious class warfare that the Republicans have engaged in over the last few decades.  The result of their idol-worship of the wealthy and their refusal to recognize that supply-side economics do not work in a demand-side economy has been a massive transfer of wealth away from the poor and middle class and toward the already wealthy, a social arrangement which is not sustainable over time.  Why they are interested in creating so many new poor people when all evidence concerning social safety nets, punitive criminal justice regimes, and vitriolic moral outrage suggests that they hate the poor people we already have is an interesting, if in the long run probably moot, question.  There are reasons why the societies of the ancien regime collapsed into violence across the western world centuries ago, and the spectre of grinding poverty alongside gaudy wealth with no buffer in between is high on that list.

If you’re looking for more irony, note that this party which so loudly declares its fervent Christianity still manages to overlook Matthew 25:40 – “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  Lord have they done it to them.

There is a genuine distinction to be made between selfishness and self-interest.  The latter often requires the individual to sacrifice their immediate gain for long-term benefits, benefits that accrue to the larger community first and then, because of the strength of the community, to the individual later.  Stability.  Broader prosperity.  Amenities.  Security.  Education.  Culture.  None of these things can be accomplished by atomized selfish individuals, but self-interested community members who understand the difference between an investment and an expense can and do accomplish these things routinely.  Communities make this nation strong, not atomized individuals.

Because the Republican Party refuses to grasp this distinction even when it slaps them in the face and thus places no value on community, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

4. I believe in the dignity and worth of women.

The Republican war on women has been well documented – indeed, the list of things I had intended to put in this space as supporting evidence is nearly as long as this entire blog post so far.  The Republican Party has clearly demonstrated its fear and contempt for women in a bewildering variety of ways.

They have blocked funding for women’s health organizations, even to the point of denying women basic medical coverage in order to further their own social agenda.  Condemning a vaccine against cervical cancer?  Seriously?  Yes, indeed.  It’s also the Republican Party that gets its undies in a bundle every time the idea that women might actually enjoy having sex becomes a public issue.

They have campaigned against – and in some places actively removed – protections for women in the marketplace.  It’s the Republican Party that has fought against and in some places – such as Wisconsin – overturned laws guaranteeing equal pay for equal work for women, for example.  Here in Wisconsin, the state GOP is actually on record as saying that women deserve less pay because money matters more to men.

The bottom line is that for the modern Republican Party women are second-class citizens.  They are not to be trusted with their own interests, their own lives or their own bodies, and they should be subject to men at all times, preferably men with religious institutions backing them up.  I find this despicable.

If you want to summarize the approach of the modern Republican Party to women, you have only to go back to the recent Congressional hearings on women’s reproductive health that were held in February 2012.  As experts on women’s reproductive health, the Republican Party called five men, most of whom were clergy and at least one of whom had taken a vow of celibacy.  Not a single woman was allowed to testify.  Nor were any trained medical personnel.  That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.

Because the Republican Party systematically devalues the contributions, welfare and worth of women in American society, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

5. I believe in the separation of church and state.

The United States is not a Christian nation, and the Founding Fathers were very clear on that fact.  It is a nation composed overwhelmingly of Christians – and some of the most zealous and aggressive Christians on the face of the planet at that – but that is not the same thing.  Indeed, it is because of the latter that the Founding Fathers took steps to ensure the former.

This is not only written into the Constitution, but it is also written into the Bible.  Matthew 22:21 clearly says, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”  Earthly government belongs to Caesar; the kingdom of Heaven is not of this world.

This is why it is so disturbing to see the frantic efforts of the modern Republican Party to convert the United States into a theocracy.  They have fallen under the sway of a particularly extreme and blasphemous offshoot of Christianity known as Dominionist theology, which holds that everything needs to be subjugated to Christianity as defined by Dominionists – laws, ethics, morality, and the Constitution be damned.  There are millions of real American citizens who are not Christians, and millions more who are Christians but regard the Dominionists with the unconcealed contempt they so richly deserve.  Apparently we don’t count.

I’m not even going to go into the specific things I had intended to put here to back this up, as it is just too depressing for a thinking human being even to list.  Instead I will simply note that the United States is a secular republic with a highly religious population and its government needs to remain the neutral ground it was designed to be by the Founders. 

Because the Republican Party is pushing a religious agenda that marks it as deficient in both American history and Christian belief, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

6. I value education.

Education is an investment.  It creates communities and neighborhoods.  It is the foundation of our economic future.  It is the lifeblood of a functioning republic.  And the fact that the modern Republican Party has spent so much of its time and energy trying to destroy the American educational system is symptomatic of that party’s larger dysfunction.

Whenever you see schools being attacked as a waste of money, you can be assured that it is a Republican doing the dirty work.  They have embarked on a campaign to systematically starve the public schools of this nation, and it is working precisely as intended – those schools are hurting, expensive private schools for the wealthy are booming, and a vast empire of poorly-educated, ideologically-indoctrinated home-schooled children is well under construction. 

I’ve read the most popular US history textbook on the home-school market.  It’s pure unadulterated right-wing drivel, so divorced from reality as to be not worth even using for kindling.  No wonder these kids come out of that experience unprepared for anything beyond living in their own ideologically pure bubble.

This strategy fits in quite well with the Republican class warfare.  Education is one of the surest paths out of poverty, and a truly educated person knows how to question the answers they are given.  Educated people make lousy peasants.  Thus you get the Republican Party of Texas – a bellwether state for that organization – explicitly declaring IN ITS PLATFORM its opposition to the teaching of critical thinking skills.  Peasants don’t need critical thinking skills.  Such things only make us question our betters.

Even when they do graciously allow the public schools to exist, Republicans do their best to empty them of all meaningful education.  Watching Republicans engage in curriculum reform would be enough to drive Carrie Nation to drink.  They demand that science be replaced with theology.  They remove issues from history and science that conflict with the fantasyland of Republican ideology.  They force teachers to omit anything that might lead to questioning – the notion that the US has always been multicultural, for example – and instead substitute their own nonsense.  It was Republicans who resurrected the old Pro-Slavery argument from the 1850s and stuck it into the public schools in Louisiana, and it was a similar group of morons in Texas who had Thomas Jefferson cut from the US history curriculum and replaced with John Calvin, a 16th-century theologian who approved of people being burned at the stake.  Fits right in with the general world view.

And don’t even get me started on the Republican vilification of teachers.  According to the Republicans, teachers are welfare queens, teaching is “the best part-time job you’ll ever have,” and nobody should even ask for a living wage to do such things.  You know what?  It’s the revenge of the baseball hat guys.  In every college class there are always a couple of them, slouching in the back row, not taking notes and getting snotty when their grades reflect their work habits – now they’re in charge, and this is their way of getting back.

The bottom line, I think, is that poll after poll after poll reveals the same thing – the more educated a person is, the less likely they are to support modern Republican policies.  Rather than shift those policies to try to appeal to those who have been trained to think critically and who have acquired expertise about the way the world actually works, the modern Republican Party has simply decided to get rid of educated people.  We’ve got our own, so-far-non-violent Khmer Rouge in this country, but at least they kept the colors consistent.

Because the Republican Party is virulently opposed to education as anything more than partisan indoctrination, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with that party.

7. I believe in democracy.

The basic political culture in the US since the early 1800s has been liberal democracy – the idea that sovereignty comes from the citizenry and therefore that citizenry should have the final word on government.  The US has only gradually come to embody that ideal in some ways – the definition of “citizen” did not originally include women or blacks, for example – and as with any human-designed system there is still room for improvement.  But overall it works, and if you want to be an American you need to respect it.

Thus I find the modern Republican Party’s assaults on democracy to be immoral and vile. 

Under the guise of trying to eliminate “voter fraud” – a non-existent crime, from a statistical perspective – the Republicans have embarked on a concerted effort to disenfranchise those American citizens who are statistically less likely to vote for them.  Voter ID bills requiring very specific forms of ID with very specific wording on them are aimed at keeping students, senior citizens, and minorities away from the polls – something that Republicans have, on occasion, been forthright enough to admit publicly (here’s looking at you, Pennsylvania state legislator Mike Turzai!).  Indeed, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has admitted under oath that their Voter ID bill was passed despite the fact that there has been no evidence whatsoever of voter fraud in that state and that no voter fraud was expected to occur in the future even without the bill.

It is not an accident that in Tennessee a student ID is not sufficient to be allowed to vote but a gun registration is.  It’s simple partisan politics, and it tells you all you need to know about the real purpose of such laws.

Now, electoral fraud, that’s another matter.  Go ask anyone in Florida who really won the 2000 presidential election.  Nobody knows.  And the Republican Party spent many millions of dollars to make sure that nobody would ever know.  The irony there is that W might have actually won – but an actual vote count was secondary to claiming power, so an actual vote count reflecting the will of the citizens of the United States was out of the question.  Go ask the Republican Waukesha (WI) County clerk about the several thousand votes she claimed to have found on her personal and unsecured computer the day after the election, "votes" which swung a tight Supreme Court race toward the Republican candidate.  Or ask her about the bags of paper ballots in the recount that were opened, tampered with, and resealed.  But those favored Republicans, so they don’t count, apparently.

We can also talk about the Republican majority in the Wisconsin legislature violating open meeting laws designed to allow the citizens to keep tabs on their representatives.  Or their refusal to let non-Republican legislators even read legislation being passed or vote on it one way or the other.  Or the US Senate Republicans forcing every vote, no matter how mundane, to have a 60-vote filibuster-proof margin.  And on and on.

It is clear that the modern Republican Party fundamentally does not accept the basic principles of democracy. 

Because the Republican Party continues its assault on democracy in the United States without pause or apology, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

8. I want to preserve the republic.

The United States didn’t start out as a democracy, though.  It started out as – and in its Constitutional form remains – a republic.  This is a very specific form of government, one dependent on separating powers and placing the public good above private interest.

Neither of those things are important to the modern Republican Party.

This is the party that brought you the theory of the Unitary Executive, where the president (so long as he was a good Republican like George W. Bush and not a bad Democrat) was supreme and could institute whatever policies he wanted without regard to the courts or Congress.   This is the party that brought you “signing statements” whereby the President could give his opinion of an act of Congress and have that be the definitive interpretation of the law, not the actual law or the intent of Congress.  This is the party in Wisconsin that feels it is not bound by state or federal court decisions and can make up rules for other people as they go along.  And on and on.  The list of evidence that I had originally planned to put here stretches for nearly half a page of bullet-point notes and much of it was previously argued by no less a conservative voice than the Heritage Foundation.  There is no “Decider” in the American political system, and any elected official who believes otherwise should be removed from office immediately, preferably with a stick.

This is also the party that holds there is nothing more important than private interest, least of all public service.  The party that actively despises public employees even as they campaign to become them.  You know what?  I’ve checked the Constitution.  It never says that the US is an oligarchy of the wealthy, powerful and authoritarian.

Quite the opposite.

Because the Republican Party fundamentally disrespects the republic created by the Founding Fathers, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

9. I do not hold with treason.

I’m not going to get into the things that are borderline here – the calls for states to mint their own coinage in violation of the Constitution, the calls for violence toward the duly elected president of the United States that come not from fringe elements but from other elected officials, the widespread and unapologetic calls for “Second Amendment solutions” to elections that didn’t go their way, the deliberate sabotage of the economy over partisan pique in 2011.  You could make a decent case that such things fall into this category, but that would be a distraction.

And besides, there are unambiguously traitorous things that are easier to highlight.

In the last decade or so, there have been any number of calls for secession from the leaders of several different states.  Those leaders have all – every single one of them – been Republicans.  Rick Perry made that case while governor of Texas.  The Republican-dominated Georgia State Senate passed a bill threatening to secede from the US in 2009 and endorsing the long-discredited theory of Nullification.  This bill also passed Republican-controlled legislative chambers in Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Secession is treason.

It was treason in 1861 when the Confederacy tried it.  It is treason in the 21st century when people bring it up again.  People who call for secession need to be brought to trial and punished.

Instead the modern Republican Party embraces them.  Rick Perry was the front-runner for the 2012 presidential nomination for a while.  The Georgia Senate was never called to account for its actions.  We just expect it, I suppose.

Sorry.  No. 

It’s one thing when your party has half-wit extremists in it – all parties have their share.  But most parties are smart enough to marginalize such people, not celebrate them.

Because the modern Republican Party embraces treason rather than seeking to stamp it out, I cannot in good conscience vote for anyone who identifies themselves with this party.

And that’s enough for me.

168 comments:

Janiece said...

David, this is probably one of the best things you've ever written. Cogent, articulate and above all, true.

Bravo, Sir.

Phiala said...

I'm with Janiece: this is brilliant.

My list would be topped with "I understand science," or "I believe in the value of scientific research," but I otherwise completely agree with you. And really, the list could be incredibly long.

David said...

Thanks, Janiece! Thanks, Phiala!

Phiala, in the extended version of this post (yes, this was severely edited and most of the data backing up my positions got cut out) I put a lot in about the modern Republican Party's war on science. It got folded into the general argument concerning education, though.

Dave said...

You are a hero. I have bookmarked this, and will return to it often, when I am tired and discouraged and cannot dredge up the arguments and rebuttals and reasons for the same good fight.

Laura = ^.^ = said...

I'm sharing this on my facebook page too. This post speaks so clearly to why I have completely abandoned the Republican party. I used to be an independent, or swing voter, if you like. But the Republican party has developed into such a hateful, paranoid, anti-American group that I can't in good or bad conscience vote for them. I hate that the changes in the GOP have left me with so few choices in candidates.

David said...

Thanks for the kind words, Dave and Laura!

I'm glad that you feel it is worth bookmarking and sharing, and I hope that someday this post will no longer be necessary.

Tom said...

David, this is excellent. Too bad that the people who need to read this will just look at the title and give it a pass. But it makes sense that those who are against education won't give education a chance in their own heads.

Janiece said...

I sent this to my Hot Mom, who wants to know what the hell you're doing rattling around inside her head, David.

David said...

A slow, sad waltz, of course. ;)

Genevieve said...

Brilliant piece David. I identify with a lot of your positions in the first half of the document, but not all of the reasons in the second.

Perhaps it falls under your dominionist argument, but my reason for deciding the republican party is hopeless is because of their vitriolic positions towards LGBT people. I finally came out 2 years ago, and started paying attention to the things that republicans were saying. The were calling for taking my children away, nullifying my marriage, establish gulags, or even asserting that a just government should have me executed. They threatedned to personally beat transgender people to death if they ever used the bathroom that was on their driver's license, but not the original birth certificate.

Essentially, religious nutters have decided that it's 1933 in the Weimar Republic, and they need a scapegoat that no one likes.

Zoe Brain said...

Where do we, the sane right-wingers go?

It's very much a case of "I didn't leave the party, the party left me".

You're not exactly Robinson Crusoe here, there's many more who have looked at the sane evidence, and come to the same conclusion.

I fear that the GOP's conclusion from an electoral loss will not be that they're batshit insane, but that they weren't batshit insane enough.

David said...

Hi Genevieve -

Crunching what should have been a 20k-word argument into a 5k-word argument did mean that some things got condensed a bit too much (see Phiala's earlier comment). The modern GOP's violent rage against LGBT Americans did get filed under Dominionist and under Community in my head, but you are right to point out that unless you live in my head this was hard to see.

As I said in the introduction, I believe in human rights. The LGBT community, last I checked, was composed of human beings. The virulent assault on their rights enrages me no end.

As a straight white male, I see no way that my rights and marriage are possibly threatened by guaranteeing the rights of people who are not straight white males and I have no patience for those who whine at me otherwise.

Thanks for your comment!

David

David said...

Hi Zoe -

I don't really know the answer to your question, but I do know that is the question. My father - who supported Goldwater in 1964 - has been saying that exact phrase about the Republican Party since the early 1990s.

There are a lot of sane conservatives out there who are deeply unhappy with the batshit insanity that claims to represent them. Perhaps it isn't so much where to go but more how to reclaim what was once rightfully theirs.

The Democrats went through this process decades ago - captured by the extremists, out of touch with their non-insane core constituents. Welcome to the late 1960s and early 1970s. It took them a quarter century to sort that out, during which time the Republicans pretty much set the agenda for the entire country by default. If the GOP reacts as you predict (and I certainly wouldn't bet against it), we may see that pattern repeat. Or we may see the party splinter, which I discussed here.

David

Vince said...

Great article! It's amazing how closely your words mirror my thoughts. I've already shared this article with friends, and we look forward to reading more.

Brynn said...

David,

The thought of a 3 party system scares the living daylights out of me as an LGBT person (you figure out which one(s) apply!).

About 35-40% of the population is certifiably religiously bat**** crazy. This is based on what percent of the population believes the Earth cannot possibly be older than 10,000 years. They are the ones calling the shots with republicans.

What does this number have to do with anything? The NSDAP only got 31% of the vote in the last free election in the Weimar Republic, but they won a clear plurality. The thought of that 35-40% holding a plurality control should be terrifying. I, for one, am glad of a two party systems, because I believe it might be the only thing preventing things too horrible to imagine.

I have no doubt there are a lot of religious crazies who are perfectly comfortable with the idea of liquidating the LGBT population in the US. They have said as much in public. ANd they are calling the shots as far as social policy at the RNC (Tony Perkins wrote the social policy section of the RNC platform)

Brynn said...

Zoe:

You're absolutely right. The Republicans are going to lose the Presidential election, and the Senate, but they will see it as proof that they weren't Christian enough (Romney being a Mormon and all), not hard right enough (Romney as MA governor, plus his backtracking on issues), and not attacking the President hard enough.

Next election, look for Marco Rubio to be the nominee, courtesy of the Tea Party. History also says he will probably win, unless the economic recovery is VERY robust.

David said...

Hi Brynn –

Which ones apply to you is not really my concern – human beings come in all sorts of varieties. :)

I would be very careful with analogies to the NSDAP’s triumph in the 1930s (and thank you for using the proper name for that party!). There were several things about that triumph that make such analogies tricky.

First, Germany had a parliamentary system of proportional representation rather than a Congressional system of winner-take-all elections. The US Constitution forces minority parties to the side, while a parliamentary system tends to give them more power. It’s more representative in a way, but also more prone to extremes. The US system is simply not set up for more than 2 parties, and any 3-party system would be short-lived. Historically it has also forced the parties to the center over the long run, and this would probably be the case as well – particularly since demographic shifts regarding the perceptions of the LGBT community are working against the Tony Perkins of the world. Even in the socially conservative town I live in now, interracial relationships are common and unremarkable in a way that would have been shocking thirty years ago, and all demographic evidence regarding LGBT relationships shows a similar trend. Part of the reason the modern GOP is so frantic is that they know very well this may be their last chance to impose their will on the rest of us.

Second, the NSDAP’s support was actually falling in the last free election, and only the general sentiment among Germany’s old elite in favor of giving Hitler enough rope to hang himself put him in power. In our system you don’t have anyone who can make that decision, so there would be further obstacles to anyone similar being put in charge.

Third, there was the Depression. Germany was the second-hardest hit nation in the world because of the Depression (we were first – USA! USA! USA!) and desperate people look for scapegoats. The NSDAP provided them. The US economy may well go through hard times in the future, but that is not guaranteed, nor is it guaranteed that our response would be similar.

Fourth, there are quite a few LGBT people who are also young-earth creationists. I know some. So you can’t simply say that one percentage figure automatically translates into another. Not everyone who denies science is opposed to human rights for LGBTs.

I think you raise some good points, and your concerns are definitely worth taking seriously. I’m not as worried as you are though.

Thanks for making me think – I appreciate it.

David

Janiece said...

@Brynn: "I have no doubt there are a lot of religious crazies who are perfectly comfortable with the idea of liquidating the LGBT population in the US."

I have no doubt that you're correct. But I also have no doubt that they'll have to go through me and mine first.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful!

Jessica Bethel said...

The link to this piece is getting passed around on Facebook; that's how I came to find it. I am going to do my part to widen its distribution by re-posting it on my wall. It is well organized (even if you did have to truncate it somewhat), well argued, cogent, and compelling. It needs to be seen by more people (including my mother-in-law, which is a big reason why I'm going to re-post it.) Thank you for this excellent and timely piece of sanity.

Anonymous said...

I love when Liberals attempt to conceal themselves, purporting to come to the logical conclusion that the left is right. LOL like you are an independent!

So you're not voting for a Republican...really?? No worries. We'll lose NY and California, and probably finish around 300 electoral count.

David said...

Thanks, Jessica - and welcome to 4Q10D!

And to the anonymous coward who clearly hasn't read the post and couldn't even be bothered to sign his or her own name before spewing nonsense at me, well, why should I take you seriously? Grow up a bit, and then we'll talk.

Jolene Graves said...

Very well stated. I have also left the Republican Party for the same reasons you have stated.

DaughterJudy said...

I really appreciate you putting into words the things I have thought about so much. I used to be an active Republican. I even attended the Texas state convention in the 80s. I started becoming more and more concerned with the snobbery and hypocrisy that I saw and heard. The jingoistic enthusiasm for ideas many of the delegates didn't even understand was disturbing on many levels. I found out that you could not want to protect the environment and be a proper Republican. I later found out that I wasn't allowed differing opinions on many subjects. It took a while before I decided the party of Lincoln was acting more like the Spanish Inquisition.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fiondel/Michelle said...

Thank you so much for expressing so eloquently all the things I have been trying to say for the past couple of years. Or, IOW, "ya hit it outta the park that time!" I would love to get some of the people who live in my neighborhood, whose lawns are sporting Todd Akin signs to read this...but I doubt they would understand, even if they did.

DaemonKain said...

Great piece! I was linked to this by a friend. I've always considered myself a democrat, but your explanation and list of values matches mine exactly. In another time, I almost certainly would have been a republican, or at least a swing voter. But as someone with strongly liberal social views, every time I get annoyed and frustrated with the democrats, the republicans go completely off the deep end and make it easy on me.

banzai said...

Well said sir.

David said...

To the anonymous coward who still refuses to identify himself as he spews nonsense:

Your post has been deleted. When you grow up and begin to address the issues at hand, then perhaps we can have a conversation. Until then, no.

Sue423 said...

Great post, sir! Actually I'm sorry that your view of the current Republican Party coincides with mine, because it places all of us in a dangerous position in history. (I'm old enough to remember the days in WW II when the 2 parties worked together so we might all be saved - this current crop of idiots would sell us off to the highest bidder just to keep a Democratic President from taking credit for a victory) I still can't understand why so many poor & working class people vote Republican and condemn themselves to even worse treatment in the future. And a question - I remember when regulations were put on commercial products to have "truth in advertising" so we didn't see vegetable beef soup with marbles in the bottom of the bowl to make it look FULL of veggies & meat. Why is it we can't require "truth in political statements" now? I understand that politicians use rhetoric to slant the truth "their" way -- but when one party BRAGS about how they'll use lies to beat the other, wouldn't you think the voters would catch on? The blatant lies I've heard this campaign - ones that are the direct opposite that facts & figures show - ones that can easily be exposed (as the fact-checkers are doing - & then "that" party says they know it's a lie but they'll keep saying it & running the ads) - shouldn't there be some line that can't be crossed? BIG headlines...(I notice some conservatives are beginning to speak up & say "Now you've gone too far!" I hope this gets everybody's attention - seems like more people are taking a closer look at what's really going on.

Sue423 said...

My hope is that this campaign, this blatant lying, this chicanery, will make enough people mad so they will realize that ALL of us need to work together to keep our nation free (freedom is never won - it's only "not lost yet") & to make it a good place for all of us, not just the wealthy & privileged. I've never envied the wealthy, I'm quite content living on my little farm, growing most of my food -- but I'm now dependent on Social Security & Medicare/Medicaid - & just trying to keep the bills & taxes paid. I learned to use critical thinking from my parents - during WW II our life was centered around the dining table, listening to radio news & reading the newspaper (we only heated the kitchen & dining room, to save coal for the war effort). I heard my parents discuss war news, politics & economic trends (on a small dairy farm, gas rationing was a constant balancing act - for the tractor, for the truck to deliver milk - we didn't get to see our relatives "across the river" in KC often. My siblings were all off to war, so I helped on the farm starting at age 6. I can imagine the reaction my parents would have to today's Republicans. Hmm, maybe I should start a blog...

Anonymous said...

David, thank you for placing your thoughts up for public consumption. I will be doing what I can to help share this post, because I believe many people would benefit from reading it.

And thank you for so carefully and clearly articulating many of the reasons why so many of us find ourselves unable to seriously consider voting for Republicans. Well, at least not unless and until they decide to return to reality, and demonstrate that they value the overall good of the nation as a higher priority than grasping for control.

David said...

I'm not sure whether to be reassured or worried that this post seems to resonate with so many people. Probably a bit of both. Thanks for the kind words, and welcome to 4Q10D. Feel free to look around the place.

And to Sue423, if you want to know why the poor and working class vote for Republicans, probably the best place to start is Thomas Frank's What's the Matter With Kansas?".

Runningnutbar said...

Seen via Facebook (Thanks Chris!) by a Canadian who has been long confused on what the American concern (vitriol!) about having a 3-party "System" was about - and I think you may have cleared it up for me. This piece on the "failings" of the "Modern" (Retro?) Republican Party was also interesting reading.....8-) I guess I would have to be described as a Liberal then, even if "Liberal" here in Canada means something else again.......! Keep up the good (thought-provoking!) work! P.S.: Sorry about all of the exclamation marks & other punctuation, but I RARELY respond to Posts & Blogs, and I get excitable.....

Anonymous said...

You remind me very much of what Jonah Goldberg talks about in his book the "Tyranny of Cliches". You do what many liberals do. That is, you are the baseline of all that is reasonable, inclusive, logical, rational, etc - free of the tugs and pulls of the ideological. Ultimately, it's a lie. You give lip service to being a 'fiscal conservative' - and then you provide no evidence whatsoever of backing it up and dismissing Republicans as frauds, and then you go into the Moveon.org talking points.

There is much that is quite debatable in what you've stated - you might pause a second to acknowledge the many outlandish, vitriolic, hypocritical acts of Democrats and of Obama's administration. The financial crisis was a bi-partisan event, joined by a compliant Fed. Obama just had to spend a cool 6 trillion? That's not a statement of fact. Government is good, and that's that? Milton Friedman dismantles that argument quite soundly. So, while you dress your thoughts as if it was being formulated by an independent thinker, and as I was reading that I was thinking "ok, that's reasonable" - but then you went right into liberal 'speak & say' mode. The hubris is also a turn off...lots of "man, I'm just filled to the rafters with facts, but I'll spare that from you now, so just climb aboard my conclusions, Republicans are evil, evil I say! The great and powerful academic has spoken." Sorry, but it's demonizing bullshit, which is not exactly high-minded nor accurate.

David said...

Why is it that whenever someone comes by here to defend the modern Republican Party they feel the need to hide behind the veil of anonymity? Is just that something that right-wingers do?

However, you are mostly civil about it, until that facade cracks at the end, so perhaps there is room for discussion.

For one thing, you need better authorities. Jonah Goldberg is on record with an entire book proudly declaring his inability to tell his Left from his Right, which makes him immediately suspect as a political thinker. And while Milton Friedman has his views, there are any number of other similarly qualified and honored economists with views that are equally – or, in my opinion, rather more – persuasive. It is instructive that when ideology had to give way to reality, even George W. Bush turned to Keynes instead.

There is indeed much in what I put in that post that is debatable. I never claimed otherwise. However, the problems of the Democrats were not the subject here. Nor was I worried about the “nutjobs” (as one of my other critics so eloquently put it) of either party. Both parties have nutjobs. As I state explicitly in the post, the Democrats tend to marginalize theirs while the Republicans celebrate them. That’s the issue there.

The financial crisis of 2008 was a bipartisan event, but a) it has deeper roots than that and b) the vast majority of those roots are planted in right-wing soil. The pet causes of the right – radical deregulation, the privatization of profit while making risks a matter of public responsibility, etc. – are largely to blame for it.

Government is good, and that’s that?

Seriously? Go back and read the post again. I challenge you to find where I said that. I did say that government has done many good things and that its role is to continue doing those things, not to be dismantled in favor of a historically uninformed view of the glories of the private sector. But that is not the same thing. Please don’t put words in my mouth and expect me to take you seriously.

And as for your last point about hubris, well, again – go back and read the piece. I address that specifically. This post is over 5000 words as it is.

When I started this post I did put in the facts. I began with the fiscal responsibility point. And when I reached 2500 words and 7 charts – not a single one of which came from MoveOn, come to think of it – and realized that a) I still had half my argument on that one point to go and b) I still had another 14 (eventually crunched down to 8) more points to go after that, well, something had to give. I am sorry you found that off-putting, but life is short. So I stuck to my conclusions.

It is not demonization to criticize a political party for its own actions, positions, and statements.

Filbo said...

Thank you for this post. A Facebook friend "shared" it (as will I, after I comment here).

I felt that the section on treason was a little weak. If I were collaborating on this post, I would add to it the whole Grover Norquist / no taxes at all position. To sign a pledge to refrain from one of the government's main powers is to abdicate legislative responsibility in a manner which seems frankly treasonous to me.

(Then you, as collaborator, would rewrite in better prose :)

>Bela<

David said...

Thanks, Filbo. I think you raise an interesting point, but I would disagree with you on it.

I put that whole Grover Norquist routine under fiscal responsibility rather than treason because to me it smacks of greed, shortsightedness and stupidity rather than treason. None of those things are illegal. Treason is actually defined in the Constitution, and while Norquist's position is irresponsible, it doesn't in itself rise to the level of treason as far as I can see.

Now, if it is carried to the point where it begins to threaten the ability of the federal government to carry out its Constitutionally-mandated activities or threaten the long-term survival of the Union, then you could conceivably make your case.

But right now I felt that was tenuous and that there were more obvious examples of the modern Republican Party's embrace of treason that would better make my point.

Keleko said...

A friend of mine in WI shared this with me. Add me to one of those sharing it on Facebook. It nicely sums up all the problems I've had with the current party, too.

goldseven said...

I've been pointed here via Facebook, and I have to congratulate you on this post. I teach English in Germany; I thought I knew a lot about American politics but now I feel you've given me a whole new sound and stable foundation. It's a great post and I would like to ask: May I use it (or parts of it) for my teaching?

Chantrelle said...

This is such an intelligently written, well-informed article. I sent it to my dad who is basically a Nixon Republican and is completely at a loss this election. I feel sorry for him!

It makes me sad to see what is happening to the right-of-center portion of this country. This really explains the issues well.

Thanks!!!

Donna said...

I was directed here to your post from a friend on Facebook and I think you have done a fabulous job. Of course, I am both a Democrat and gay so one could say that I am the choir as it were. As someone who served proudly in the military, I really like your comments about 'the military as a tool'.

I do want to give a little more nuance to the discussion about education ... especially as it relates to your comment about homeschooling. You said, "a vast empire of poorly-educated, ideologically-indoctrinated home-schooled children is well under construction." I think one could just as easily substitute publically (or in some cases, privately) schooled children for 'home-schooled' children. For the record, I homeschool (well, really unschool) my daughter and she may be 'poorly schooled' but she is NOT 'poorly educated' ... 'ideological indoctrination' could be questionable but then my ideology is grounded in post-colonial, post-modern theory and queer thea/ology so it is all about questioning the way things are while still understanding history and lineage with an eye toward those not always represented. Many of us, especially in the unschooling community, subscribe to a theory of learning that develops critical thinking, engagement with the world so as to always be learning and a commitment to community in all it's many forms. I would say that I see in my daughter the ability to form her own opinions and to articulate them. I have taught in an academic setting (an institution of higher learning) and while I value that experience and those institutions ... they too need to be revolutionized. Most especially, by remembering that learning and the love of it is not only legitimized by those of us with letters behind our names or the institutions that we are employed by.

So, in keeping with the theme and in brief - I would not vote Republican now or in the near future because they do not value learning or more importantly an educated populous. They continue to diminish public education by insisting on teaching to multiple choice tests which in no way measure learning. They support institutional and homeschooling philosophies which re-enforce content (often slated toward a particular ideology) over critical thinking and ideologically fanaticism over informed dialogue.

Thanks again for the post and for creating such a lively conversation.

Nick Atlas said...

This is the single best piece I've read on this topic (and I've read a fair number.) Well done sir. I would really be interested in reading your expanded version with all the evidence and whatnot, both for personal interest and because it would provide a great deal of fodder for discussion.

David said...

Goldseven - yes, you are welcome to use this in your teaching if you feel it is useful and appropriate. I would appreciate proper citation, but other than that you can have it. I hope it sparks some discussion. You can email me at the link on the main page if you have questions or want things clarified.

Donna - speaking of clarification, you are not the first person to correctly criticize me for my overly broad language concerning home-schooling. Let me state for the record that I do NOT automatically equate "home-schooled"with "uneducated," "stupid" or "ignorant." That would be foolish on my part.

It is entirely possible to provide a solid, even excellent, education in a home-schooling environment. I see such students in my own classes routinely, and I congratulate you on the obvious effort you are putting into such education for your own daughter.

Unfortunately, it is also entirely possible to provide essentially no education - or even an anti-education, actively sucking knowledge out of the human brain - in a home-schooling environment, where there are no outside observers to check in on things. I see those students all too often too.

It is the latter group that I see being created by the modern Republican Party's efforts much more so than the former. As I said, I read the most popular American history text in the home-school market once (at least that was what it said on the cover), and it was pure right-wing fantasy. Nobody could use it and emerge able to survive the questioning and argumentation that is the foundation of the craft of history. All you can do with it is indoctrinate people.

So I don't think we are disagreeing so much as you are pointing out a sloppy bit of language on my part. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Very Well Written... dumb as hell and about as wrong about my beliefs as a conservative republican as you can be, but very well written.

Krissy said...

You are making the rounds on facebook. Thank you for this. This was a great piece of writing.

Anonymous said...

"Why is it that whenever someone comes by here to defend the modern Republican Party they feel the need to hide behind the veil of anonymity?"

I wouldn't dare defend the Republican Party. I'm about as unhappy with them as you are, and as unhappy with them as I am with the Democratic Party. Good for you for leaving it.

To answer your question: The reason some of us choose anonymity is because it has become fashionable--particularly on the part of the left--to assume that there's only one way to think, and to savage the name of those who happen to think differently. You speak of the ideological; I see it on both sides as a culture of intolerance.

In fact, you demonstrate it quite readily in your characterization of people who believe in smaller government as "ignorant," and by using words like "adult" to suggest that those who think differently than you are children. Seems like an "adult" could write a piece like this without resorting to childish phrases.

I appreciate some of the social elements of the Democrats, but I have similarly a hard time as you have with the Republicans--I can't get past the partisan hate and ideology. Congrats, though; looks like you're adopting it quite well.

If you can't handle people who disagree with you via a few anonymous messages--just turn that feature off. Or delete the messages.

Michael Godwin said...

Thank you for writing this. I have been of voting age since 2006 and have been following politics almost every day since, and you have effectively summed up my thoughts on current US politics beautifully.

Rob Haar said...

Could we see the long version with the references? I think the references would take a lot of steam out of arguments. Thanks.

Jeff Haddock said...

Very well written. I couldn't have said it better, though I've often tried. Thank you.

David said...

Very Well Written... dumb as hell and about as wrong about my beliefs as a conservative republican as you can be, but very well written.

That comment pretty much made my day. Damning with faint praise is a lost art in this day and age, and it’s good to see a few holdouts keeping the tradition alive.

--

In fact, you demonstrate it quite readily in your characterization of people who believe in smaller government as "ignorant," and by using words like "adult" to suggest that those who think differently than you are children. Seems like an "adult" could write a piece like this without resorting to childish phrases.

Well, you might try reading it a bit more carefully, for one thing.

I never said that people who believe in smaller government are ignorant. What I said was that there are a lot of ignorant (i.e. uninformed) people out there who seem to think that government is evil and that all good and virtue lies in the private sector. This is not the same thing.

I did say that there is a lack of adult voices in the modern Republican Party, but again – this is not the same thing as saying that everyone who disagrees with me is childish. Some are, some aren’t, and there’s plenty of childishness to go around on all sides, as far as I can see.

My point was that adults generally do not act in the manner that the leadership and public figures of the modern Republican Party act – there’s just far too much NO NO NO NEVER NEVER NEVER in their platform, their public statements and their policies, for one thing (viz. taxes, declarations that bipartisanship means others doing what they tell them to, etc.), and way too much substituting of ideology for facts.

Please note that I do not assume that all conservatives are this way. I know far too many intelligent, articulate conservatives to make that statement. But they are poorly represented by the party who claims to represent them.

I will take your advice to turn off anonymous messages, though. Thanks for the suggestion.

--

Rob and Nick – I have no idea when I’d find the time to write that all down. I will eventually, but probably not until after the semester is over. This will not help the current debate, though. So it goes.

--

Also, a general thank you to those who have left kind words here. I appreciate them.

Mad Brew said...

Brilliant! I don't think I can add much more to the conversation. Just that it was awesome to read and see the things I'm thinking coming from someone else. Thank you!

Jenny Wallace said...

Thank you. Well executed, and it leaves me better prepared to defend myself at upcoming family events. ;)

If you're up for it, I'd willingly read each of the expanded points as individual posts.

kimchalister said...

Great article! Well written and good things to say. I only disagreed with a bit of it, though I've been somewhat liberal all of my life (to the right of my parents, but not much.) The current crazy Republican party has also made me move farther to the left. Now I'm pretty far out that way.
I also got here via Facebook.
When I think of treason, the first thing I think of is the outing of one of our secret agents, Valerie Plame. That used to be considered treason of the highest order. I'm not in agreement with you completely on splitting up the country being treason. I think we should be able to have a serious conversation, in Congress and the public, as to whether our experiment in being a Republic has failed and we should break up into many small countries. Certainly our brand of capitalism fails regularly, about every 80 years, and to lesser degrees in between big crashes. But it isn't the government that fails, it's the private sector. Capitalism cannot exist for long unregulated -- it kills itself through its insistence on removing the regulations that keep it going.

karen said...

One of the best essays I've read on this subject. Under "treason" I would add the 2000 and 2004 elections (you might need a whole section on the judiciary!).

I am surprisingly still astounded that only people who disagree post as "Anonymous." Really? That reminds me of when as children we'd stick our tongues out at each other and then close our eyes so we wouldn't see the other person. Nyah, nyah!

If you don't believe enough in the stance you're taking to at least make up a name or use a handle, then why should those of us who do choose to identify ourselves even listen to you? The choice of hiding behind "Anonymous" automatically makes you lose pretty much all credibility. The only thing any of you "Anonymi" have said that has made sense was the suggestion to turn off the feature.

Meanwhile, David, now that I found this blog--posted on Facebook by a friend of mine--I'll be back. Thank you!

Ronny Wells said...

Brilliant. Thanks so much to my also very brilliant son Richard for bringing to this my attention. Job well done, and worth sharing!

Russell Borogove said...

Thank you for this. I suspect I live just a few percentage points to the left of you, but I agree with every point you make here.

DallasSportsPrincess said...

Have you gotten a marriage proposal yet? I'd like to have your babies. This was simply amazeballs. A friend from the Netherlands posted this for me on my Facebook wall. I told him I could have written this VERBATIM. You are me with a penis. During a recent discussion, he really didn't understand why I was so adamant about keeping religion out of any political discussion. I'd basically decided I wasn't even going to entertain any 'the bible says' comments in a discussion about politics, especially about rights. It's a straw man argument and I won't be suckered.

I'm a multi-generational native Texan. I do not recognize my home state anymore. We do owe the nation an apology for the current GOP, because it was born here out of the Bush family machine - aka, Satan, Karl Rove. Poor Hillary was made fun of for her vast right wing conspiracy comment, but she was right. Everything you describe here has been systematic and not by accident. Is it really a coincidence the same types of bills were popping up in Republican held state houses across the nation? I don't think so.

As salient as every single point you made is I don't know how you change the laziest electorate of my lifetime.

Like others, I'm going to book mark it. I may post it again every day on my FB page until the election praying everyone I know will read it. I sincerely believe you cannot be intellectually honest and vote Republican. Thank you for this.

Janiece said...

@DallasSportsPrincess, you'll have to wait in line. David is MY platonic boyfriend - I saw him first.

Plus there's the whole "equally brilliant and lovely wife" thing...

David said...

DallasSportsPrincess - okay, I've changed my mind. This post made my day. But while I appreciate the offer, I'm afraid my wife would probably not approve. Besides, I'm originally from Philadelphia and remain an Eagles fan - it would never work. ;)

It isn't a coincidence that all those identical bills cropped up at once. The central role of ALEC (which I believe stands for American Legislative Exchange Council - you can google it) has been pretty well documented in that. The modern Republican Party has even outsourced writing legislation, which is a travesty of the Constitutional process.

Also, the way you change the laziest electorate of your lifetime is one voter at a time. Vote. Get others to vote. Make your voice heard by writing, acting, and being impossible to ignore. It isn't easy or quick, but it will work eventually.

I'm impressed that this has made it all the way to the Netherlands.

--

Karen - in all fairness, some positive comments have come from anonymous posters here too. There is a qualitative difference between anonymous praise and anonymous criticism, however, so I think your larger point is still valid.

David said...

Janiece, there's enough platonic boyfriend to go around! :)

DallasSportsPrincess said...

Yes, yes...I was about to post I had since actually read your author profile and perused your other posts. Lovely family. Mazel.

Glad you mentioned ALEC - another irony of the GOP, who wraps themselves in the flag and Constitution. There simply isn't any part of government they don't believe can be outsourced or privatized - and still have the audacity to claim they are 'strict constitutionalists.' Believe me, I am doing my part. I will not cease to agitate for change and progression. My livelihood and health depends on it. I'm one of those small business owners they pander to who doesn't have health insurance and had a major health crisis this year. I can't afford to vote for Republicans who bring nothing but recession and layoffs of my clients.

Yes, the Netherlands and England, or as my Scot friend calls it, Barbaria. It's making the rounds and you have very succinctly encapsulated the issues we see and they've had a hard time understanding. Our election is front page news over there and most Europeans are scared poopless of Romney and the rest of the GOP - another reason not to vote for them, the unbridled arrogance of ignoring a global economy unless it suits them with low wage outsourcing there for higher profits here.

You're right. It would never work. Imagine my hell being a single,progressive, sports princess in Dallas.

David said...

DallasSportsPrincess - I can imagine. For what it's worth, you have my sympathy and support.

The idea that the modern Republican Party is somehow a Strict Constructionist party is another of their con jobs. That little stunt of theirs back in 2011 where they read the parts of the Constitution that they liked on the House floor and ignored those parts they didn't (http://4quarters10dimes.blogspot.com/2011/01/on-recent-unpleasantness-regarding.html) was just the most public face of that.

We were in Barbaria (::snort::) this summer, as well as Sweden, and your characterization of European fears is accurate as far as I could tell.

Thanks for commenting here.

Joseph Mackey said...

After reading this, I felt stunned. I've never heard anyone put my own thoughts and feelings down (so much more eloquently than I could).

Thank you for being a voice of sanity piercing through the white noise.

tesseract26 said...

WOW. This is just wonderful - erudite, thoughtful, straightforward, unflinching. I was raised a Republican, but left before I could vote because the takeover of the party by the appalling alliance of the far-right Christian theocrats and the equally fundamentalist free market ideologues.

Now I work in politics and policy in Texas. (Weep for me.) It's exhausting. You're completely right. Evidence doesn't matter to these guys. There is no meaningful discussion or deliberation. There is no sense of history. There is a hell of a lot of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, religious bigotry, and hatred of poor people - in short, anyone who's not just like the old, rich, straight white guys running things. This is not democracy anymore. Like you said, it's oligarchy.

It gives me hope to know that there are folks like you out there telling the truth. Thanks.

Julia Lawrence said...

Good grief, where to start. This has got so long. Well done for getting a debate going! It's a superb success.

When I got to the post about what have you got against Anonymous posts, and why not just switch them off? I thought - friend, you just don't know Dave. He is asking a genuine question - he wants to know because he is a curious sort of person. He just wants to understand why you won't give your name. And then I read that you switched off anonymous posts. And I thought touchee - so it's me who doesn't know Dave. Hey ho.

Anyway, to answer that question because I've posted anonymously on the web too - sometimes it's out of genuine fear - a fear that people will find out who you are, and where you live, and come and beat you up, or find your kids and beat them up, and vandalise your car, and hurt your cat. I don't know why but there are some topics where people with opposing views come across as scary, and you want to disagree, but you just fear for the consequences. Now, I know you'd never hurt anyone, but maybe some of the people who read this would do so. To all those people - I live in Nome, Alaska, should you want to find me.

Anyway, we've disagreed on this one before, and I thought that one of the great things about this post is that you are talking about the Republican Party, not the people who vote for it. I think that's an important distinction, and would take a lot of the hate out of these conversations if we could all stop with the inappropriate labels. I've just been watching something a well-meaning person who cares about me sent, which, among other things, implies that anyone who votes Democrat supports the all the views and actions of all people who have ever called themselves "socialist", anywhere in the world, at any time. I guess the idea is that socialism is considered left-wing, and so are the Democratic party, so it must all the the same thing. You can see why people who think that would be absolutely scared out of their wits by the Democratic Party and those who vote for it.

Now, I'm not much good at history, but I know enough to know that this is a pretty crazy assumption. In the same way, there are a lot of people out there who vote Republican, but who I'm pretty sure aren't crazy, and aren't as full of hatred as you'd think they'd be for voting that way - because they aren't the Republican Party. They're just people, trying to make a choice, just trying to get it right. They don't sign up to every statement or action by every Republican candidate or Republican supporter everywhere.

diana said...

David, this has got to be the most erudite piece I've read on politics in years. I come to you from a random Facebook reference, as well, of course. :)

It's a pity that most of the people who seriously need to read and understand the points you make won't give it the time of day because (1) it says things they don't want to hear, and (2) it's simply too long for most conservatives to bother with (in my experience). Most of them will read a little of it, bitch about it or not, then move on. Pity, that. (And yeah...I understand the problem with evidence and length and time.)

I could have written all of this myself. As a matter of fact, I've already written a lot of it at my blog, "The Id, The Ego, and the Single Misfiring Brain Cell" found here: http://pdblack.twistedpair.net/index.php/poly-ticks/, fwiw.

Keep up the good work!

d

David said...

I thought that one of the great things about this post is that you are talking about the Republican Party, not the people who vote for it. I think that's an important distinction

Julia, this is one of the key points and thank you for bring it up. Much of what I wrote is based on the simple premise that the modern Republican Party has lost touch with the intelligent, articulate conservatives whom they claim to represent and has become instead a vehicle for extremism. The party was taken over by radicals over the course of recent history - Reagan, for all the hagiography he attracted during the recent primary season, could not be nominated as a modern Republican today, and don't even get me started on Eisenhower's chances. That gap is disturbing.

DrStarbuck said...

A friend of mine in WI also shared your blog link on Facebook. I'm glad he did, because I feel I have a better understanding of how to articulate what it feels like to be in the middle of this political climate.

Thank you!

JaneOfAllTrades said...

This is probably the single best argument I've seen in this election season. It's well-written, cogent and deals in facts, which of course the Republicans won't like. I'm still unsure as to how they think they can say even the most inane, fantastical things and have The People just believe whatever they say, despite copious evidence to the contrary. A lot of the arguments laid out in this blog post mirror some of my own at http://therabiddonkey.blogspot.com. I'd love it if you checked it out!

Noe Lee said...

Brilliant! Thank you.

Daniel Wair said...

I agree completely. I've always considered myself a person who will look at the candidate before the party. Sadly, in recent history, the republican party candidates have begun unifying in their distaste for reason, rational discourse, and the public good. There are always candidates with policies on both sides of the aisle that I might disagree with but only republican policy actually frightens me. When I think of a future that could come from the discarding of fact based education, the empowerment of wealth over decency, and the marginalization of every citizen who isn't a heterosexual Caucasian male it leads me to envision a dystopian future fit for a sci-fi/horror novel.

AngNash said...

This is AMAZING stuff. I saw this as a "share" on Facebook, read it, shared it...and if I could, I'd EAT it, it's so good. BRAVO!!

SueDres46 said...

I absolutely love this post. I feel exactly the same way for mostly the same reasons. I live in Texas and it is so frustrating when you see people you know are not stupid, following the Republicans and thinking those of us who don't are a bit insane. I know many liberals here who are even afraid to let anyone know which side they are on. I have had an Obama sign up since the primaries and have had to buy 30 signs to make sure I have another to put out when one is stolen. At the present time, 14 have been stolen. We can only hope that the other half of the country will eventually come to their senses.

Randy Christensen said...

Your experience eerily resembles my own. Thanks for articulating it so well!

Hortonses said...

Like many others, I got here via FaceBook. I find myself at a loss to describe how much I enjoyed reading the post, and I am one that would love to read everything you DIDN'T put in.

In addition... I would love to see an opposing piece, not necessarily by you, but just as a clear and well-researched for the opposite party. I thirst for information to help me make my voting choices!

I have always been a swing voter, voting for the best person for the office. It's not looking like I can vote Republican anything this time. You put into words the vague ideas I had about what was going on out there in the political minefield.

Thank you.

Dean Treadway said...

My gosh. I am completely floored by you voice and organization here in this article. It says it all. I'm really left flabbergasted by it. Extraordinary work. Thank you so much.

Impy said...

Sir, you are amazing. I've wished I could articulate all these concerns I've been having about the GOP and have the confidence that comes from solid evidence and understanding to back it up. It really lightens my heart to know that there are people in this country who do bother to stay educated and who still believe, as you said, that we're all in this together, and we'd damn well better act like it.

Sometimes I'm afraid to voice my concerns because since I'm black AND a woman, I worry that people will just dismiss my words as just words and say I'm seeing what's not there because of my background. And since so many people still, for some reason, seem to support the GOP, I was kind of wondering if it WAS just bias. At least, I worried it wouldn't make any difference, kind of like a child telling his parents their rules aren't fair - you'd hope that they'd try to find a way to meet his needs while keeping him disciplined but at the end of the day they could say "too bad" and really, who else could he voice his complaint to?

Anyway, I wish I had something more meaningful to offer up than just another 'thank you' though I sincerely mean it. For now, I rely on people like you, whose words carry more weight than mine (not necessarily because I'm not a wealthy white male, but because they've got a respected wealth of knowledge and experience) to help spread a message that I believe in and I know it takes time, energy, and courage to voice that message in the first place, so again, thank you. I plan on using my voice in the best way I can on voting day, with renewed confidence in its power. I'm still a little worried about the outcome of this election, especially with all the shady dealings with voter eligibility that've been going on, but I hope that reason and genuine concern for the future of the whole nation will win in the end.

Donny Sizemore said...

BULLSEYE!
The most complete account of one side of our political reality I have yet to see. The Dems got major issues too, so please tackle them sometime, but I couldn't agree more w your account of the current composition and results of the Bat Shit Crazy GOP!

Gerzel said...

As sad as it is, I have talked to Republicans who are truly anti-democratic and assert that Capitalism needs to be defended against "mob rule".

I doubt that any of these individuals own property though I am sure most of them have at least some college degree.

I suspect that the scare against communism has shifted some of the American mindset away from being democratic to capitalistic.

Capitalism is merely an means to an end. It is a tool, a useful and good tool that I whole heatedly support using, but one that can cause great damage if used recklessly.

banseabhag said...

That was an extraordinarily concise and logical Piece. Thank you for putting into spare, and eloquent terms what I believe. Thank you.

Fate said...

David, very good work. I am a Republican, and rather than pretend I am an Independent I have chosen to fight from within the Republican Party to advocate for a return to more sensible, compromise-driven policies that once were a founding principle of my party.

Many of the issues you bring up I have brought up on my own within my Facebook NoteBlog. I've argued as hard as I know how that the Republican Party has turned too far hard right and has lost its ability to effectively advocate for the more moderate voices within the party. And I agree that breaking the radical hold on my Party's leadership may require a devastating electoral loss.

But most of all, I love your comment that Barrack Obama is very much like Dwight Eisenhower. He is doing what I believe my party SHOULD be doing on its core principles. And this doesn't mean I agree in total with Obama's platform... but at least his approach tries to be balanced. He leaves open a path to later expansion or removal of his programs if they fail.

I will not be voting Republican at any point in the near future as well; but I will be doing so as a Republican. I feel that surrendering my Party to its radical elements would simply be an insult to the democratic process. And my most fervent wish is that others in the Party who feel as I do would join me in speaking out against the radicals.

southernsoul said...

I wish there was a way to post the sound of applause for this post. It is by far the most thoughtful, well-reasoned, clearly articulated assessment of what is wrong with today's Republican Party that I have ever read. Thank you, David, for sharing your words. Bravo! (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

Unknown said...

I wish I had know about your blog when you started it... Shared on FB...You're a star, David...

Bill Rawlins said...

This article was not written by an independent. It was written by a liberal. It uses selective examples, false statements and hyberbole. It makes no claims to objectivity.
1. So the Democrats are fiscally responsible? They are making no attempt to balance the budget other than taxing the rich. I say, go ahead and tax the rich. Then, after that fails to come close to balancing the budget, you will see that spending has to be cut SIGNIFICANTLY. Dems don't want to do that.
2. This article basically said nothing, that Republicans "voted against necessary weapons because they weren't shiny enough?" Examples, please??? Dems are the ones who always want to cut defense.
3. This section was basically about giving to the poor. I'm for that. I give regularly to the poor, as do most of my Repub friends. (Romney gives massive amounts to charity.) I don't know any Dems who give to the poor. They want the gov't to do it. I would love to get into a debate about how the welfare system destroyed the black family. Welfare money was given to single women, so the husband became an impediment. There is room for a reasonable approach to welfare, but please don't accuse the Reps of creating class warfare. The Dems created that concept.
4. "The dignity and worth of women" is a way of saying unfettered access to abortion. How about the rights of the unborn child? How about their dignity? Or are they just ambiguous masses of tissue as many feminists and liberal argue?
5. The religious agenda of the Republicans is what exactly? To inhibit abortion-on-demand? Gay marriage? You don't need religion to argue these points. In all societies on Earth for measurable history, marriage has meant the union of a man and a woman. The re-poster is a History Professor. Please tell me a society (other than the more recent years) where gay marriage (not just homosexuality) has existed. (And please don't tell me about a case on the island of Borneo in 1684.)
6. This article implies that Republicans don't value education and the Republicans are less educated. In my state, the opposite is true. The uneducated people in the ghetto are the Democrats. All the educated people are Republicans. (And by the way, we voted in an extra 1% tax in our heavily Repub county to go to education.) What I would would support is removing the Fed Dept of Education created under Carter. Since its creation, SAT scores have gone down. Schools are best managed when controlled locally. And the gov't could save almost $100 billion per year.
7. Democracy - The Dems are big on this, and on freedom? How about company owners having the freedom (guaranteed in the First Amendment) to not contribute to their employees aborting their unborn children? Or do our moral and religious beliefs have no value in this "free" society (contrary to the first amendment)?
8. The "republic" and "treason" - You may recall that our founding fathers committed treason against Britain. (I find it humorous that the blog poster quoted the Civil War secession as an example of treason, but "forgot" to mention the treason of our founding fathers.) Whenever a tyrannical regime arises, it must be aware that the government is "by the people, and for the people". I am not a supporter of revolt, but I am realistic enough to believe that 1776 could happen again if a tyrannical government (of ANY party) raises its head.

Kate520 said...

"I thought that one of the great things about this post is that you are talking about the Republican Party, not the people who vote for it. I think that's an important distinction"

Julia, that's one of the things that bugs me the most about Republicans and their heroes...they hate us, not our policies or beliefs or credoes, yus. Lately I have been shocked at the vehemence expressed by some acquaintances that I am an evil person for believing as I do.

David, thank you so much for this. You are so perfectly eloquent. your wimmins must be proud.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time the last four years immersed in the fever swamp of the "eligibility movement". Every once in a while I have to walk away, my despair for our future if these tools EVER get anywhere near the reins becomes so overwhelming. But it always draws me back, like a bad freeway pileup, and I have to tell you, they just might be the stupidest bunch of RWNJ's on the entire internets.

I've bookmarked your blog and will be back. One of my RINO friends directed me here from thefogbow.com
where smart people come to study the ridiculous.

Mia said...

A great post and yes, I agree with you, but I'd like to read one well thought out argument from the other side that explains their point of view as well.

Sean said...

You make good points. I don't agree with all of them, but I respect your opinions and thought process. I'm sure we could reach a reasonable compromise on any issue. Something that is completely lacking in modern politics. Is there any chance you would agree that obstructionism is also treason?

Michelle in Ohio said...

I just saw this via FB. Go you! I'm a strong lefty in all my political views, and I love every word of this.

Brent said...

Excellent article. I didn't read all the comments, so it may have been said elsewhere, but, the full length version of your comments needs to be compiled and published as a book. I haven't seen these points so well articulated elsewhere. It needs a wider audience, on both sides of the aisle.

ProfessorBLB said...

You express many of my thoughts exactly, David, and I plan to share your blog on-line with others.

Sophia Drossopoulou said...

I am a Greek, living in the UK, and as such one of the many people in the world whose life is affected by what happens in the USA. I read your article with great interest; it is very well structured, and expressed.

Could you perhaps give substabtiate the claim that deficit grew more under the Republicans than under the Democrats? (I am not disputing it, I am just curious).

Thank you,

Sophia Drossopoulou

David said...

Just to respond to a few of you, because no matter how much I’d like to I can’t get to all –

Impy – never worry about what others think of who you are. Say what is on your mind and let them worry about it, whoever “they” are (there are a lot of “theys” who can fit there, pick your choice). I also worry about this election, but I’m doing what I can and I’m glad you are too.

Gerzel – Capitalism is indeed a good and useful tool, but it is not the repository of pristine Truth that the modern Republican Party makes it out to be. Like any other powerful force, it can be trouble if uncontrolled. Thanks for bringing that up.

Fate – I wish you well, and I hope you succeed in bringing the Republican Party back to responsible conservatism. The country will be better off for it.

Sean – Thank you for hitting on one of the key things that I think is missing in today’s politics – the idea that you don’t have to agree with someone to work with them constructively. And I would not say that obstruction in itself is treason unless it endangers the continued existence or safety of the Constitution or nation. Treason is specifically defined in the Constitution (Article 3, Section 3). Obstructionism can rise to that level if pushed to extremes, but in itself it is just another tactic used by all parties at times.

Thank you to all who have taken the time to send kind words. I appreciate them.

David said...

I’m always amused by people who think they know me better than I know myself. I’m tempted to ignore Mr. Rawlins’ post for that reason alone, but such a random collection of straw men and diversionary tactics deserves some response at least, for as long as I can keep my eyes from crossing.

1. So the Democrats are fiscally responsible?

Diversionary. This post wasn’t about the Democrats – it was about the modern Republican Party’s abdication of fiscal sanity, which you have sidestepped.

2. This article said basically nothing

Well, it said enough to get under your skin, apparently.

First of all, learn how to quote properly. I did not say “voted against necessary weapons because they weren’t shiny enough.” What I actually said was “skimped on necessary equipment that wasn’t shiny enough.” Go ask the veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan how much body armor they were issued in Rumsfeld’s New Model Army. Funny how being accurate changes things, isn’t it?

Second, if you don’t believe me, why not take it from someone who has served in more war zones than you could find on a map? Your party abandons veterans when they become inconvenient.

3. This section was basically about giving to the poor

Uh, no it wasn’t. Go back and read it again. It was about structural policies championed by the Republican Party that have used the force of law to extract wealth from the poor and middle classes and deposit into the hands of the wealthy. It was about the distinction between selfishness and self-interest. No wonder you missed it.

4. “The dignity and worth of women” is a way of saying unfettered access to abortion.

Okay, now I know you didn’t bother to read what I wrote – you’re just substituting your own straw man talking points and expecting others to react on your terms. Straw men burn easily, don’t they?

5. The religious agenda of the Republicans is what, exactly?

Look up the term “Dominionism” – it is readily available on Google.

Also, your attempted argument against gay marriage essentially boils down to “We can continue to be bigots because we’ve always been bigots” and I find that strikingly unconvincing.

Oh enough. This is a waste of my time.

Leon Bynoe said...

I got here from a post on FaceBook, then shared it on my wall, friends posted it to their wall, and so on, and so on... I even had my two teenage children read this. Very nice work. Thank you!

David said...

Sophia - The graphic here is one way to look at it.

You can also look at US Debt vs GDP ratios, which began dropping after WWII under both Democratic and Republican administrations, rose sharply under Reagan and Bush Sr.'s adoption of supply-side economics, began to drop again under Clinton and then rose sharply again under Bush Jr.

They have continued to rise under Obama in large part because of a) the wars started under the Bush Administration, which the modern Republican Party refuses to raise taxes to pay for, b) the economic collapse (which reduced federal income) and the stimulus programs necessary to deal with it (begun under Bush and continued under Obama), and c) the lingering effects of the Bush Jr. tax cuts, which the modern Republican Party views as sacred and untouchable. While Obama certainly deserves some of the blame for all this, he does not deserve all of it. I'm not convinced he deserves most of it, but that's debatable.

Rowan Badger said...

You know, I have this dream in which people who genuinely value small government, fiscal responsibility, the power of the individual, and other 'traditionally Republican' positions rise up and take back their party, and the two-party system begins to function as a much-needed balance to itself, with the 'liberal' side advocating for unbridled progress, absolute social justice, and elevating the less-fortunate, while the 'conservative' side agitates for fiscal responsibility, tradition, and restraint, and between the two we get a country that effectively combines optimism and pragmatism to grow responsibly.

In this vision, third parties exist not to cater to those who are disgusted with the entire process, but as proving grounds for ideas that might not find a voice in either major party, so that those who hold non-mainstream opinions can find someplace where their voices are heard.

Unfortunately, for my vision to come true Democrats will have to hold a close rein on their party's tendency to embrace wishy-washy milquetoast idealism, and the few remaining Republicans I respect will need to rise up, gather back those who've left the fold for exactly the reasons you elucidate here, and retake their party (or form a new one). I think you're likely right when you say that as Republicans are in a similar situation to early-70s Democrats, it may be some time before they find a reasoned, intelligent voice to represent them and bring them back towards some measure of what they once were.

As a left-leaning Independent, I don't hate Republicans. I miss them. We need them. The Democrats speak for tomorrow's children on environmental, social, gender, and Civil Rights issues. No one speaks loudly enough for tomorrow's children on fiscal issues, on issues of self-determination and personal responsibility, on issues of limiting the power of government to concentrate power in the hands of the individual. Republicans used to, and I feel that lack acutely.

David said...

Rowan, sign me up. That was eloquent and well said.

e2 said...

Rowan is my kind of idealist.

David, great summary. I've coined a term for this newer brand of "republican" (yes, quoted needed), and that's: political sociopath. It's exemplified by people like Grover Norquist who seem not only indifferent to the struggles of fellow citizens, but actively aiming to make things worse for as many as possible.

outlawdcowboy69 said...

Sir, I salute you. Very well stated. The one thing that I would have added is the fact that the current Republican party claiming to be the party of God is supporting the act of blatantly lying just to win elections. I do like your use of Bible quotes, however, their willingness to stomp on the values of the Bible and their arrogance to use God as a cornerstone sickens me. Thank you for calling it like it is in regards to the rest of the idiocracy that has become the Republican party!!

whistl said...

Are you a mind reader? Amazingly well reasoned argument.

titaniumdon said...

I could not have expressed these thoughts in a more clear, well thought out manner. This was the ONLY political commentary I shared via Facebook this ENTIRE election, because I think this is quite unbiased. Also - I've wanted to say pretty much EXACTLY the same thing.

Thank you.

susanglennis said...

David. I read a lot of blogs and you have written the best one I have ever read. And if a person is going to follow only one, they should follow yours. I’m going to “share” it with my friends. The world needs the benefit of your blog with its well-stated and presented facts. The problem with modern Republicans - they don’t seem to be able to understand facts. I am sickened that we no longer have the political system of my youth. And like you, I stay informed of the facts and issues facing us, but no longer consider voting Republican. I believe it is not something a reasonable, thinking person can do. And I don’t understand why anyone does. Actually I do - because they are ill-informed. Or rich, fat, white men who like the power they have given themselves. Thank you so much for writing this. You have a new fan and follower.

susanglennis said...

David. I read a lot of blogs and you have written the best one I have ever read. And if a person is going to follow only one, they should follow yours. I’m going to “share” it with my friends. The world needs the benefit of your blog with its well-stated and presented facts. The problem with modern Republicans - they don’t seem to be able to understand facts. I am sickened that we no longer have the political system of my youth. And like you, I stay informed of the facts and issues facing us, but no longer consider voting Republican. I believe it is not something a reasonable, thinking person can do. And I don’t understand why anyone does. Actually I do - because they are ill-informed. Or rich, fat, white men who like the power they have given themselves. Thank you so much for writing this. You have a new fan and follower.

NE Girl in BE said...

I'm from the Midwest, am a military spouse and own a firearm, yet do not see myself voting for the republican party in the future either. Living overseas this election season has probably helped me keep my sanity, my family bonds and some friendships.
Thank you for putting down in words what I feel in my heart to be true.

Kate said...

Really great, in-depth analysis of everything that's wrong with the Republican party. It breaks my heart because I really am conservative at my core, but I'm not crazy like the current people who represent the party. I've taken a lot of flak from my Christian friends (I am a Bible-believing Christian) for my outright, vocal support of President Obama and my criticism of those on the right.

"How can a Christian support a pro-choice, pro-gay, Muslim (yes they believe he's a Muslim) president," they ask. I am so weary of answering. So weary. But I'll answer here - even though I'm preaching to the choir, as it were. President Obama ACTUALLY cares about the middle class and the poor. He truly wants us to succeed, to have health insurance, good jobs, enough food, a roof over our heads, and yes a good education. Governor Romney wants to further the cause of his wealthy friends. Period. I'm in the 47%, most definitely NOT the 1%. So there you have it.

David, how have so many Americans been duped into voting against their own interests by these wackos? Any ideas?

Duane Maas said...

I am sorry to see that you believe in labels. Do you assume all Muslims should be condemned by 9/11. Or all Germans should be accused of antisemitism. They are plenty of great republicans and Democrats as well as Independents.

I have always felt it is better to within an organization to change it rather than quit. The Democrats and Republicans have changed greatly over the years. Look at the Dixiecrats. Look at the fact that Nixon established the EPA.

Labels are for fools, the real place to look is in people's actions.
Support for Education is hard to qualify. if you don't support teachers unions, does that mean you are anti education? Does that mean Rahm Emanuel is anti education or trying to find a way to improve it?

Charter Schools and Home Schooling are not black and white issues. It usually depends on the involvement of the parents and the interest of the teachers either way. I volunteer for some charter schools and am impressed with some and horrified at others. As far as home schooling, the admission rate of home schooled kids is twice the no home schooled kids average. Admittedly only one data point, but inferring home schooling only done by republicans and dissing it based on one textbook is also not looking at the entire picture. I think it would be best to quit throwing money at the problem, but instead see where the investments in education pay off, whether it be technology, better teacher training, administrator etc. If money solved all problems our urban schools would be the best in the worls based on $ per student spent. They obviously are great solutions out there that are a combination of the above investments, but arguing over which party is stupid is not a constructive thing to do.

I can make many other points but based on the comments so far I will be torched enough anyway. What we need is people not to make blanket statements that say because I'm a Republican I hate women or because I'm a Democrat I want the 1% to pay for my healthcare. Instead we need reasonable discussions on how to solve real problems without big money influence, whether it be corporate, religious, or union.

Anne said...

This is an very articulate and logical piece. I quit voting for the "Man" rather than the party when I realized that John Danforth in Missouri was different from John Danforth, and his irresponsible support for Clarence Thomas years later was just the final reinforcement to my previous decision. I would share this with the three republican friends I still have managed not to completely alienate. Unfortunately, they are moving themselves out of the "reality-based community" by inches every week.

Keno Rork said...

just saw this tday from a frnd on facebk. you definitely articulated what many people think and feel, but dont quite know how to express - because of how unbelievably insane the republican party has become. It's so unbelievable that it's too difficult to accept as a fact, that kind of extremism just doesnt register with normal thinking, reasonable, understanding people. More writers like yourself need to keep putting up the mirrors right in republicans face.

Lori Burton said...

Wow- just wow! You've perfectly written so many things I've wanted to say and just can't articulate! Thank you!!

David said...

Thanks again for the kind words – I appreciate them, even if I don’t specifically write back to everyone who offers them.

A few responses, though -

NE Girl in BE – I was overseas for a while this summer as well, and I have to say it did wonders for my sanity and blood pressure. I could feel the one getting thinner and the other getting higher almost as soon as I got back, alas.

Kate – First, I think those who ask you that question should be directed to the great line from Mohandas Ghandi – “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.” I consider myself a Christian and neither a Pharisee nor a Levitican (to use John Scalzi’s choice description of people whose Biblical understanding begins and ends with Leviticus). That’s how I’d answer, anyway.

Also, in terms of voting against their own interest, the best place to start is Thomas Frank’s book What’s The Matter With Kansas?. The short answer: they’ve become convinced that voting against their economic and political interests is the moral thing to do. And that’s sad.

Duane Maas – Well, if you don’t want to be torched, probably a good place to start would be not calling people stupid.

Second, stop putting words in my mouth. My argument is with the modern Republican Party as an institution, not conservatives (or even people who vote Republican) in general. Your attempted comparison to Muslims and/or Germans is a straw man argument and easily dismissed.

Third, as I wrote in a comment further up, there is a way to do home-schooling right and a way to do it wrong. I see the results of both in my classes. My point (which was not written clearly, I admit) was not to disparage home-schooling in general but to point out that the ones who do it wrong seem mostly to be following the party line laid down by the modern Republican Party in its assault on curriculum and the public schools in general. This is based on first-hand experience, not simply one textbook – the textbook was there for illustrative purposes. There is certainly room for education to improve across the board, but I am not convinced that the policies advocated by the modern Republican Party will produce that, nor am I convinced they are meant to do that.

Susan Davis said...

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. I look forward to reading your other posts. Thank you

christiebea29 said...

I LOVE your article!!!!!!! I wish everyone would read this! I have been voting just like you, as well since I could vote, and yet for the first time ever am completely flabbergasted at what is happening in the Republican Party! The criminality of their shenanigans makes me just ill. The fact that any person could think for a second that Romney and the Republican Party is going to help them personally improve their lives (financially of course) is down right infuriating! I cannot believe that anyone thinks what they are saying makes an ounce of sense. My Father would have had a heyday ranting about them! And he was Republican. He stopped giving to them years before he passed away in 2004, seeing their self important stance far before this crap.
I vote for people, nature, mother earth. Good will come when good intentions are the path. Energy follows intention!
Anyway- well said, well written, and yes: Brilliant!

StolenThoughts said...

Pt 1

I was also directed to your blog from FaceBook you have become quite the "passed around blog" *blushes*. Reading this blog was like looking in the mirror and seeing myself. I was not born here in this country. My family immigrated to this country from Cuba. I was raised here and at the age of 18 gave up my citizenship to Cuba and became an American. I was very proud and the very first thing I did was register as a Republican. The first president I voted for was Reagan, the second was Bush Sr why well because that was the way my parents voted and then I grew up. You might ask why at the age of 26 did you suddenly grow up. Well it was because I no longer held my parents beliefs. You see every child of a Cuban immigrants are taught that Democrats are all Socialist. It is imbedded in their psyche.
I was a Republican and voted for a Republican because of my parents.

At the age of 26 I realized that I didn't completely agree with all things Republican and although I never changed my parties affiliation, I did vote for a democrat for President Bill Clinton. I was the black sheep of my family, my father could not understand how I could possibly vote democrat hadn't he told me what Castro was like and why would I want to live in a communist country which he was sure the US would become if Clinton was elected (which it never did and never has with every democratic president elected)

I did not relent and decided that I would vote for the candidate that would reflect most with my views on life.

During the Monica witch hunt, I came to realize that the Republican party of Reagan and Bush Sr was no more. This new party would go after a president at no cost because they were sore losers. In spite of all the good that Clinton had done for our economy, they needed him out. I changed my party affiliation to Democrat within months of all this happening. I believe this is where the decline of the Republican Party came from. From the Rove's, Koch, Limbaugh, Becks, Murdoch's....

I have to be honest and say I have not voted for a Republican President since Bush Sr. and if the party continues the same I probably never will. I have voted Republicans for smaller offices locally and I probably will continue to do so if it is the best candidate for my interest and because local politicians effect my life directly every day.

StolenThoughts said...

Pt 1

I was also directed to your blog from FaceBook you have become quite the "passed around blog" *blushes*. Reading this blog was like looking in the mirror and seeing myself. I was not born here in this country. My family immigrated to this country from Cuba. I was raised here and at the age of 18 gave up my citizenship to Cuba and became an American. I was very proud and the very first thing I did was register as a Republican. The first president I voted for was Reagan, the second was Bush Sr why well because that was the way my parents voted and then I grew up. You might ask why at the age of 26 did you suddenly grow up. Well it was because I no longer held my parents beliefs. You see every child of a Cuban immigrants are taught that Democrats are all Socialist. It is imbedded in their psyche.
I was a Republican and voted for a Republican because of my parents.

At the age of 26 I realized that I didn't completely agree with all things Republican and although I never changed my parties affiliation, I did vote for a democrat for President Bill Clinton. I was the black sheep of my family, my father could not understand how I could possibly vote democrat hadn't he told me what Castro was like and why would I want to live in a communist country which he was sure the US would become if Clinton was elected (which it never did and never has with every democratic president elected)

I did not relent and decided that I would vote for the candidate that would reflect most with my views on life.

During the Monica witch hunt, I came to realize that the Republican party of Reagan and Bush Sr was no more. This new party would go after a president at no cost because they were sore losers. In spite of all the good that Clinton had done for our economy, they needed him out. I changed my party affiliation to Democrat within months of all this happening. I believe this is where the decline of the Republican Party came from. From the Rove's, Koch, Limbaugh, Becks, Murdoch's....

I have to be honest and say I have not voted for a Republican President since Bush Sr. and if the party continues the same I probably never will. I have voted Republicans for smaller offices locally and I probably will continue to do so if it is the best candidate for my interest and because local politicians effect my life directly every day.

StolenThoughts said...

Pt 2

I read this whole blog and the responses of the more illogical ones trying to take you down with their nonsense I have to say was quite amusing.

This is why I can't have an ernest discussion of politics with some of my Republican friends because they really believe everything that FOX news has to say, they really believe that is fair and balanced (I know crazy huh?). They believe that President Obama is a Muslim, in spite of the fact that he belonged to Rev Wrights Christian Church for over 20 years. I can't argue any factual information with them or ask them to point out what in Romney's plan will help them exactly. They don't really know and I feel they don't really care. They are partisan voters who will never vote for the other party no matter what harm their own party will do to them.

A case in point. My own brother. Back when Bush Jr was in office post 911 Cheney and his cronies were stirring up the US about Iraq. I argued with my brother a very partisan republican that we were not going to war with Iraq for anything other then defense contracts and a way to distract the American people from the fact that we let Bin Laden escape. I made a bet with him that there were no weapons of mass destruction there and that Al Qaeda was no where in Iraq and neither was Bin Laden. Of course when the time came and I was proven right and he wrong, his response was that the weapons were move. Really? Really? How do you have an intelligent discussion with someone so void of intelligence. I think that is what is filling the Republican Party today. The blind acceptance of what is being said.

I don't believe everything Democrats say either. I try to fact check them as much as I can. I know and I am a realist that most politicians say things that are factually wrong or completely misleading. I know that until we take away the special interest out of Washington that most politicians will only be politicking for themselves or for whom paid the money to get them elected. Until such a time I have to go with the less damaging choice.

Do I think Obama is the perfect candidate, no, but when given the alternative he is the most intelligent one.

That is all, sorry so very long.

ArtdeFleur said...

Well said!

Carl Knoch said...

I'll be happy to see the mounds of evidence you didn't bring forward here to save space. I don't mind reading at all, especially when the claims are this strongly worded.

And while I don't disagree with anything in particular you said, I actually agree, I do still like to see evidence to back up claims.

Karen said...

Shared, bookmarked, and grateful to you for articulating my torrent of outrage so deftly.

vocello said...

I will be reading this full article later today as per request by my daughter. I was perusing the comments to get a sense of what audience this blog drew and came upon this one exchange, mainly because you said to D. Mass "a good place to start would be not calling people stupid" . . . so I looked above and found that Maas called no one stupid, he merely stated that "labels are for fools". While I am looking forward to absorbing what you have to say as you have come highly recommended by someone I respect, I am hoping that this glimpse into your handling of the discourse is not indicative of the way you formulate your opinions.

David said...

David, thanks for this post. It's a very helpful summary of many of the issues I've had with the republicans. For the last couple of years, I've felt that I kind of should be a republican, if they actually stood for what many of their supporters think they stand for (fiscal responsibility, pro-business policies, etc.). It's just that they don't. Not only that, it's hard to have an actual discussion, since their basic premises often either make no sense, or aren't actually arguments. For instance, the claim that we shouldn't vote for Obama because he's a Muslim. For one, it's not true, but even if it were, don't we have religious freedom in this country? Somebody being a Muslim wouldn't keep me from voting for them.

David said...

Vocello - When Mr. Maas said “I am sorry to see you believe in labels. … Labels are for fools,” I took that to mean that I was being called a fool. If you have a better way of interpreting that, I’d glad to hear it.

You will note that I did not respond in kind to Mr. Maas. I gave him what I felt was sound advice in my first paragraph. I dismissed his first argument as the straw man it was, but did not go further. And I acknowledged the merit of his main argument. He was responding to what I had said rather than what I had meant, but the poor writing in the original was my fault, not his, and I tried to clarify my meaning for him (and for the others who have rightly called me on that bit of sloppily overbroad writing).

In general terms, I have no particular problems with disagreement. I make no claims to being infallible, and the last thing the world needs is to consist of nothing but pale copies of me. So by all means, be honest and polite, and I will be as well.

Carl Knoch So would I. When I wrote this a month ago I did not save my detailed outline, only the basic points. It’s midterm season down at Home Campus, and I doubt I’ll have time to reconstruct that outline until after the semester. But I will.

Stolen Thoughts Thank you for sharing that story. I agree that the Democrats have their own wagonload of flaws, but they are still a rational party as an institution. It’s sad to see them win that battle by default, and it’s not good for the country to have only one party of that description. As a previous commenter said, I don’t hate the Republican Party – I miss it.

laelyn said...

Wow. This was shared by a progressive FB page and I am sharing it forward. I live in Utah, enough said. Thank you for organizing and articulating the reasons why many of us will not be able to vote for anyone who associates themselves with the Republican Party. I, as others have commented, would have appreciated your bringing the list to Ten Points by including the war on science as a separate point rather than folding it into Education. The right-wing religious folks that stand on God and creation fail to acknowledge that the universal laws governing the earth systems that we so freely manipulate were put in place by that same creator.

Thank you.

vocello said...

Thank you, Rowan. More than well said, your words speak peace.

sandy shoes said...

This blog post solidified a decision I had to make at the polls today about a local race, but was feeling conflicted about. No more. Thank you.

L Pollock said...

"I am a historian specializing in the political culture of late 18th century America, so I actually DO know what this country was founded upon, as opposed to the AM radio hosts and halfwit politicians who routinely make this claim."

This touches on a very important issue that has become increasingly troublesome and pervasive and that is the growing use of technology for dissemination of information. I agree with Jean-Francois Lyotard that technology creates almost incomprehensible amounts of discrete and indiscriminate information and we need to carefully look at who has access and who will manipulate that information. Sources count. Integrity counts. Expertise counts. Having informed, but differing viewpoints count. Or they used to count before corporations became people and statements like this one came into play: “’We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,’ Neil Newhouse, the Romney campaign’s pollster, said this week during a breakfast discussion at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., that was sponsored by ABC News and Yahoo News. He said that fact-checkers brought their own sets of thoughts and beliefs to their work, and that the campaign stands behind its ads.” Suddenly, lying is normal and acceptable, as is repeating the debunked lies.

This illustrates for me that the nation has clearly divided into two groups: those capable of critical thought and those without that skill or ability. For a timely example, here is an article on poll quants from The Chronicle of Higher Education where their work on polling predictions and an Obama win is discussed in detail:
http://chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/the-rise-of-the-poll-quants-or-the-demise-of-the-tv-pundits/31636?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en
In contrast, here is an article on Fox News' senior political analyst Brit Hume's confusion over polling predictions that show Romney losing:
http://smd12364.newsvine.com/_news/2012/11/04/14920925-brit-hume-polls-showing-romney-losing-are-puzzling.

In both cases, there is access to the same data, but beyond that point, how it is manipulated, analyzed and put before the public is very different. Therein lies the first problem. Because of ONE of Hume’s misguided statements (and I am being generous), there are now millions of Fox viewers who might believe that national polls are more predictive than state polls in a presidential election. Compound that type of misinformation being disseminated on a daily basis for years, and at the speed of light on the Internet, and it becomes its own massive school of thought. This school of thought crumbles under scrutiny, because it is void of critical analysis, but its adherents are exhaustingly stubborn and woefully ignorant. They don’t know what they don’t know. And, as we have come to know, you cannot argue with them.

Which leads to the second problem which is Lyotard’s warning that we should seriously examine whether or not we are making the right moral decisions about how we are managing all the information we are gathering and generating. The Republican Party is morally bankrupt. They have made that abundantly clear, as David has meticulously outlined in this blog, and they have no shame. It is notable that they do this by discrediting anyone who challenges them, and the list of distinguished persons they have dismissed out-of-hand boggles the mind. It is not limited to politicians. Colin Powell is backing Obama because both are black. Paul Krugman is not a worthy authority on economics. Kurt Vonnegut didn’t mean what he wrote in one of his books. These are the voices they want to quash, but these people can and do defend themselves. The Republican Party's biggest crime and moral failure is not caring or protecting the weak; rather, they openly express their contempt and exploit them - every single chance they get. For this reason, I refuse to be complicit with the Republican Party.

David Greenwood said...

David (OP), this was a very well thought out piece, and I will join the choir who pretty much agrees with it. One thought though. You mention in an earlier comment about the US' system not being set up for more than two parties. I agree, and I've often wondered if we'd be better off with proportional representation, as in the UK or most other young democracies (so I've been told).

To make sure we're all talking about the same thing, here's the model I'm using for my comparison: In the current system (First Past the Post, or FPTP), if an election comes out with Party A getting 51% of the vote, Party B getting 30% and Party C getting 19%, Party A gets all of the resulting power for getting a majority. In a representative system, the results of that election would result in representatives being apportioned more "fairly", so perhaps 5 reps for A, 3 for B and 2 for C. In a representative system, three parties could conceivably survive (or more), whereas FPTP results in only two parties being sustainable (three will result in a split vote).

In Washington state, we get a voter info packet that contains write ups on every party running for national office, which includes the big two, as well as the Green, Justice, Constitution, and two Socialist parties(!). The platforms of the Dems and Reps are very wishy-washy and vague, whereas the others have actual agendas and goals!

My theory is that if more focused parties were vying for peoples' votes it would be more apparent what people really care about. If one party was overwhelmingly concerned with the environment, for example, but moderate on everything else, might that result in more common sense negotiation and less reflexive contradiction? Many candidates today make the basis of their platform "I'm against whatever the other party is for". Might parliamentary representation do away with this?

You do mention that this may be more prone to extremists... would you care to elaborate on your thoughts?

Ryan Hodges said...

You might be my political soul mate; just much more
well versed in the material than I have time or the
passion to be. However, the recent behavior of the republican party has definitely inspired me to be more passionate. Consider this site bookmarked!

ebshepard said...

Wow, what a fantastic essay. Thank you for posting it. My only qualm is your comment about Republicans always being the party behind privatization of schools. In Chicago, that would be our duly elected Democratic mayor, alas.

David said...

A few responses:

David You bring up a good point – why should being a Muslim matter? The Constitution explicitly prohibits religious tests for office – indeed, it is the only mention of religion in the entire original text of the document – so for people to protest a candidate’s religion strikes me as a betrayal of the Constitution. The fact that Obama is not a Muslim (nor a foreigner, nor a Socialist, nor any number of clear falsehoods) is just extra. He’s not an ideal president and there are plenty of rational reasons one might vote against him. You’d think there wouldn’t be such a need to harp on the irrational ones.

Sandy Shoes You’re welcome. And thank you for voting.

L Pollock We live in an era of abundant information and scarce knowledge. There is simply so much information out there that it is hard to digest, and people long for simplifications. That can be good or bad, depending on the simplifications at hand and whether people realize that what they’re getting isn’t the whole picture or not. I’m not sure this is a partisan issue, particularly, but it is an important one.

David Greenwood I’m not convinced that a proportional representation system would be better, though I could be wrong about that. It seems to work elsewhere – perhaps it could work here. I don’t think you’d eliminate the “I’m against what they are for” problem – you’d just have more theys.

The reason such a system is more prone to extremists is that the threshold for representation in such a system is low. Consider – in a Congressional “winner-take-all” system, you need a plurality of votes (not necessarily 51%, just more than anyone else). This historically forces people into two parties rather than more, and forces those parties to compete for a broad electoral base – it forces them to the center, in other words. When one party gets too extreme, it tends either to come back to the middle or be replaced by another one who has.

In a Parliamentary “proportional representation” system, anyone above a certain threshold (say, 5% of the vote) gets represented in the legislature. This rewards single-issue uncompromising extremists who would otherwise not get into the legislature in a Congressional system.

Further, because of the split in the electorate, such single-issue parties often end up holding the balance of power. Your example presumes someone gets 51% of the vote. What if one gets 45% of the vote, one gets 40%, and three others get 5% each. In order to govern, either the first party has to bring one of the minority parties into coalition or the second has to bring two, rewarding their intransigence with power. If you want to see this in action, look at Israel’s government.

ebshepard Regarding Emanuel, I stand sadly corrected. I think he is an outlier and not representative of the general trend – I stand behind the general validity of my comment – but clearly it is not as absolute as I had stated.

David Greenwood said...

David, thanks for responding to my comment! I certainly understand your concern with extremists getting into office more easily under proportional representation. I suppose the reason I sometimes long for it is that on certain issues the two main parties form an uneasy truce and essentially decide to do nothing. I'm thinking of actually curbing gov't spending specifically, as I feel like both parties rampantly overspend and borrow, it's just a question of what they're overspending on. The fact that there is no serious contender to upset the two party balance leads to complacency. Is that worth it to avoid extremist elements? This is the issue that I ponder.

Louise Cook said...

Your post = flame in the night. Me = alone in the cold. Me after reading this post = :)

Louise Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Isral DeBruin said...

You should consider taking this, adding in the content you left out, splitting it into chapters for each point and then using the feedback in these comments to hone your feedback and then publishing this, either as a book or, at least, an Amazon Kindle Single.
In a short time, you've succeeded in striking a chord with a lot of folks. I think a wider audience would likewise appreciate it.
If you could make it happen quickly, it would be quite timely, too.

Ted said...

David - That was one of the best written blogs I have ever come across. You are a wordsmith. Thank you for what I've thought, but never been able to so eloquently state.Where can I find more of your articles?

David said...

David Greenwood I don’t think the solution to the problem you identify is to move to a parliamentary system of proportional representation. It might work, but I think there are easier ways to accomplish what you seek given the history of this country and the Constitution. Parties change focus when the people who make them up make them change focus – if you want a party to focus on cutting spending, then make one or the other of them focus on that. Or start a third party and become the preferred alternative – that’s happened a couple of times in the past, mostly when one of the two main parties has collapsed. And to be honest, as I have written elsewhere on this blog, I am not all that optimistic about the long-term survival of the Third Party System that we have had since the 1850s. A new political party might well have its opportunity to shine more quickly than most people think.

Louise Cook I think there are a lot of people who feel similarly – you’re not as alone as you thought. This piece definitely struck a nerve.

Isal DeBruin At some point I will add it all in. I’ll put it here – I haven’t thought beyond that, really, but perhaps elsewhere too. But I doubt I’ll get to it in any timely manner – the semester gets crowded. I’m just hoping to get to it at all!

john_m_burt said...

At some point, either sane conservatives will regain control over the Republican party, or they will all leave and join the Democrats, who will quite comfortably resume their traditional place as the party of the right.
In the latter case, the far left will feel free to leave the Democrats and join the Greens or some other party and make it the party of the left. Either way, the nutjobs are neutralized and the rest of us can get back to the business at hand.

john_m_burt said...

Oh, one more thing: I am pleased to see that someone besides me has noticed that we are all of us Liberals in this country. Some are conservative Liberals, some are progressive Liberals, but we all agree that it is self-evident that all men are created equal, and that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.

David said...

Ted Look around and make yourself at home! And thanks.

John M Burt I am not sure I would agree that the Democrats' traditional place is the party of the right - from 1793 to around 1824 they were arguably on the left, to the extent that such a description applied at all, and they have definitely been on the American left since 1933, which is long enough to be traditional in itself. Things change. But where the Third Party System goes from here is an interesting - and unanswered - question.

I always say we have economic Liberals and political Liberals and we call them conservative and liberal respectively for rhetorical convenience, but you're right - all of American politics today takes place within a very narrow spectrum of Lockean Liberalism.

Terry R Webster said...

I will bookmark the page that I might read it when I am less bleary eyed from lack of sleep. I find this blog to be soul food: Measured, weighed words, written with none of the emotions that nearly scoured the patina off this country these last four years.
Thank you.

Jason Toddman said...

I LOVE the way you think!!! :-))
The reasons you cite for not voting Republican resonate with me very well, and stated/written far better than I could ever do (even truncated as you said). If anyone ever asks me why I don't vote Republican, I am referring them to this post! :-)

Jason Toddman said...

Btw another good reason you should give a separate section to might be: I want to preserve the environment. Granted liberals tend to be too impractical in the other extreme sometimes, but Republicans act like the issue is totally without merit (Drill, baby, drill!), and that alone sometimes drives me crazy!
I could also mention their anti-science stand like Phiala and others have, as science is also a very important issue for me... even though that relates strongly to the religion and education reasons.

David said...

Well, now that things are slowing down around here, I can actually respond to comments!

Thanks, Terry and Jason - I appreciate the kind words.

You raise a good point about the preservation of the environment, Jason. I see that as an investment in our future - it makes sense to spend money, energy and time now to preserve our habitat in its splendor because in the long run it benefits us to do so. This is the only planet we've got, and any sensible person - businessperson, politician, just plain citizen - takes care of their resources and plans for the future.

enuftrashtalk said...

Call it "the baggage thing". . .

elmelw said...

My argument with the left is their commitment to benevolence is always with someone else's money!

Jason Toddman said...

To elmelw:
And MY problem with the right (well, one of them anyway; there are SO many others) is that they want the rest of us to pay for tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires! Talk about hand-outs! :P

Carl Dietrich said...

Your message is clearly resonating with a lot of people, and it has resonated with me in all points except for the treason argument. I do not think it is treasonous to discuss secession (I consider that to be protected by the first amendment), but it would be treasonous to actually secede from the union. Fortunately, although there has been a lot of talk, we have not seen the action happen, so I can't agree that we have seen an act of treason. However, I agree that a party whose leaders are seriously discussing secession is not one with which I want to be affiliated in any way. Overall, very well said.

David said...

Thanks, Carl Dietrich. As with the line between Loud Complaints and Incitement to Riot, the line between protected First Amendment speech (discussing the possibility of secession and the consequences, etc.) vs. treason (actually planning for secession) can get fuzzy. It is my belief that the modern Republican Party has crossed that line on more than one occasion. This can be debated, of course, but I think your larger point that such a party is probably not one to be affiliated with regardless is well taken.

elmelw - oddly enough, my left-wing friends make exactly the same argument about the military. I don't take them seriously either.

Kate said...

I was all ready to be done, my comment was acknowledged and my question answered... then I started thinking about the home school stuff.

I am home schooling my kindergartener right now basically because I (finally!) completed my Master's degree, but have been unable to find a job. We live in a University town because my husband is a professor (I feel you on the crowded semesters, David!) but there just aren't that many jobs here for someone with a Master of Taxation. I'll be working at H&R Block during tax season, as I did this past year, but that's only 4 months. But I digress...

I am aware of the Dominion theology and the re-written History books. As I said in my previous comment, I am a Bible-believing Christian, but my goodness that doesn't mean that I have to check my brain at the door. Assuming that I am still home schooling my daughter when she starts studying History and Science, rest assured that I will be using secular sources. I don't believe that our Earth is only 5 or 6 thousand years old. I don't believe that all of the founding fathers were Christians - in fact it's quite clear from ACTUAL history that many of them were not.

For reading, sure we can use Bible stories. She's learning how to read and learning Scripture at the same time. GREAT!!! As long as she is reading at or above grade level. When it comes to Science and History, she needs to be on a par with her peers there, as well.

I helped a Jr High student a few years ago who was being home schooled, and his History book (by a very well-known Christian textbook publisher) taught about all these American History figures whom I had never heard of. They were missionaries and martyrs. That's great. We should know our church history, but not to the detriment of knowing American and World and Ancient History.

I have an adult friend who is very smart and very well-educated (working on her 2nd or 3rd Master's degree), but her schooling through High School was a combination of home school and Christian schools, and she said to me recently that "The Founding Fathers were all Christians." When I ever-so-gently contradicted her, she seemed shell-shocked. I guess my point is that we don't do our kids any favors when we teach them History through false, rose-colored (or Jesus colored, if there is such a thing) glasses.

Do I believe God is sovereign, and that He appoints rulers and He guides and protects those who belong to Him? Do I believe that He causes rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous? Do I believe that Jesus is the pinnacle of all History? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean that Ben Franklin didn't say "God helps those who help themselves" (a phrase that is not only NOT in the Bible, it is actually antithetical to Biblical theology) nor does it mean that Thomas Jefferson didn't have illegitimate children with one of his slaves, then fail to free any of his slaves even in his will. Not sure what the re-written History books do with these facts but leaving them out just produces ignorant children who later become ignorant adults, shell-shocked when a caring friend tries to correct these false beliefs.

Don't really know what the solution is, because I absolutely believe in the value of a home school education if it is done by well-equipped parents. It's the ones who aren't so well-equipped that cause grave concern.

Harry said...

Brilliant! I would love to see the long version :-).

David said...

Kate - if there is one sentence in this post that I would rewrite it is the one that mentions home schooling. Many people have correctly called me on my sloppily overbroad condemnation of home schooling, when in fact my actual opinion is that it can be done well but just often isn't. I congratulate you on doing it well.

I have never seen any contradiction between being a historian and accepting scientific reality on the one hand and being a Christian on the other. I will side with those who feel the best way to honor God is to learn about how creation really works, and my impression is that you would agree with that. Thank you.

But as I said in a comment further upstream, so many home schooled children are not given anything approaching a decent education, and in my experience this is almost always because they are subjected to the sorts of curricula championed by the modern Republican Party. As a teacher, that worries me. As a citizen of this republic, it scares me to death.

Kate said...

Oh yes, we are in agreement on our views about this. That's the problem - Christians who check their brains at the door and who choose to homeschool their kids, thus teaching them to check their brains at the door and so on throughout the generations is a legitimate concern when it comes to homeschooling. I get that. You & I don't see a contradiction between faith and science or historical fact but too many of our brethren do. I don't know how to fix that. :(

Nick reignman said...

WOW! this guy has no idea what he is talking about. Prob gets all his info from ABC or CNN... Just because someone writes a book about a subject doesnt mean the info is all write. Truth is truth and it does not need to be defended. So i wont even bother with picking apart all his "facts". Doesn't bother me you dont vote R but if you voted for Obama then you hate this country and you want to see it destroyed and thats exactly whats going to happen. The next 4 years you will see steps taking to becoming a one world govt. Republicans are not the answer either. They are not perfect by any means.

David said...

Thanks for proving my point, Nick. I love it when people make my job easy.

jolenta said...

This is a brilliant piece that I intend to study carefully with my child and share widely on the Internet. Let the GOP continue to remain in denial (as the above commenter & so many others following the outcome of the Presidential election seem hellbent on doing) and perhaps the party will go the way of the Whig party. As far as counterbalance perhaps the Green Party can come to the rescue. At this rate the GOP is toast!

David said...

Thanks, Jolenta - I am beginning to think that you are right about the future of the Third Party System, particularly (though not exclusively) about the future of the Republican Party. I've written about it here.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

dogmatix-san said...

Word.

I should be fairly evenly split between Dem and Rep voting looking at the purported ideals, but I would not touch the Republican party with a ten-foot pole. They seriously need a separate, ~sane~ Republican party. A Coffee Party to contrast against the Tea Party, so to speak. *g*

Thank you for this wonderful post, and if you do decide to post the full reasons with facts, I would love to read them.

6cac43da-364a-11e2-8f70-000bcdca4d7a said...

I'm late to this discussion as I just had a friend post a link to it on Facebook today. I thought you took a lot of swings, got a lot of hits, but looked bad on a few misses.

First, while it may not have been your intent, your introductory comments seemed to disparage anyone who would vote for a third party candidate with your "you have to pick a side" comment.

Those of us voting for libertarians, greens, and others do so for a variety of reasons, but at least some of us are voting our consciences. No, the two parties are not exactly the same, but I think those that say so are usually just guilty of hyperbole, not the buffoonery with which you accuse them.

But the differences between them may not be enough for some of us to feel forced to choose between the two major parties. A common criticism from both sides - that you seem to repeat here - is that third party voters avoiding responsibility by not "taking a side". "Moral purity is a luxury given to those without responsibilities"? We're voting for who we actually think would make the best president. In what way are we the ones abdicating responsibility?

I think a case could be made that it's the ones who consistently admit that they're voting for the "lesser of two evils", the ones who say, in effect, "Gee, I really wish everyone else would start supporting a third party candidate so I had a viable option" that are the ones avoiding responsibility.

I'm not going to go through your essay point by point because I do agree with much of what you wrote about the republican party. And I understand that since you were writing specifically about republicans, you're not finding it necessary to engage the critics whose comments seem to be "Well, what about the democrats?" on some of these issues. Having said that, points two and eight in particular bothered me.

"Waving a flag around and blowing things up is no substitute for strategic thinking." Agreed. But after taking office, Obama pretty much followed Bush's Iraq withdrawal timetable to the letter, despite campaign promises to the contrary about bringing the troops home would be his first action ("You can take that to the bank!") He ramped up the war, and by doing so, U.S. troop casualties in Afghanistan, and kept it going strong even after Bin Laden was killed. And I don't think it's fair to talk about republicans playing with military toys when the Obama administration is sending predator drones into Pakistan on a regular basis.

These actions are especially disappointing to me because bringing the troops home doesn't face the same congressional roadblocks as, for instance, getting a budget passed. He's commander in chief. He could have brought them home without any cooperation from the legislative branch. He didn't.

Point eight: Like you, I also want to preserve the republic, so I cannot in good conscience vote for any president who signed the NDAA into law.

It's this issue that particularly bothers me when I discuss with my friends on the left. They wanted Bush brought up on treason charges, war crimes, etc. just on the Iraq war alone. If Bush had signed NDAA they would have been rioting in the streets and burning him in effigy.

But how did they react when Obama signed it? This world almost all of them use is "disappointed". "Gee, I was really disappointed that he did that." Disappointed?!

Disappointed is the word I would expect them to use in, say, discussing parts of Obamacare: "I'm disappointed that he compromised on the single payer option." But signing NDAA is just disappointing? To quote Bob Dole, where's the outrage? Or at least the veto?

Thank you for your time.

David Wulatin

Watchdog said...

In the second to last paragraph, I wrote "this world" when I meant to write "the word". Apologies for a confusing autocorrect.

David Wulatin

David said...

David Wulatin – No problem on the autocorrect – that sort of thing happens.

You were correct when you said that it was not my intent to disparage third party voters, particularly those who have thought out their positions. My intent was to disparage voters who look at the two main parties, declare them equivalent, throw up their hands, bury their heads in the sand, and then call themselves “independent.”

Those people are buffoons.

I would not call you a buffoon, because you have clearly put some thought into your position and taken a stand for your beliefs.

I would point out, though, that as a practical matter, under the American political system as it is (versus as it should be, perhaps), when you do vote for a third party you are in effect throwing your vote away. Sure, you’re voting for who you think is going to be the best candidate, but you know very well that this person will not win, cannot win, and that no actual message will be sent to the eventual winner by your voting the way you did (seriously, other than throwing the vote to Bush in 2000, what did all those Nader votes accomplish? Did it change the way either Republicans or Democrats operated?). All that happens is that you get to feel better about having made your moral stand and not sullied yourself with voting for the lesser of two evils.

Let me explain it this way. When I was young and single, I could vote whatever way I pleased because I had no responsibilities. Nobody depended on me. If I made my world more difficult by voting my pure and absolute conscience and giving my vote to someone who I knew had no chance of winning and making it easier for someone to whom I strenuously objected to win, nobody suffered but me. But I have kids now. I have to use my vote for the best practical effect in order to make their world better. And sometimes that means having to vote for someone whose positions on some issues I deplore (but am less concerned about) in order to get the support for issues I need for those who depend on me. I have responsibilities to more than just my own conscience now, and it has been my experience that this means compromising, often in uncomfortable ways.

Ultimately you reach a point where you cannot compromise anymore, and clearly I have reached that point with Republicans in a way I have not with the Democrats. And just as clearly you have reached that point a whole lot earlier and a whole lot more broadly than I.

I cannot comment on your responsibilities to others beyond yourself. I don’t know you. But that’s what I meant by that.

As for your two points, I can see your position, but I don’t agree.

Obama did not start those wars and he has done a very good job of not starting any others despite intense pressure from Republicans to do so (Iran? Libya?). As C-in-C his power is not as absolute as you say. My point about the modern Republican Party treating the military as a toy was not just that they liked to buy and use shiny things, but that they throw the military around like they’re playing a video game without thought for the consequences to US strategic power or the men and women charged with enforcing it. Drone strikes are a minor symptom, not the disease itself, and overall I think Obama has done a good job of ratcheting down from where we could have been. Not a perfect job, not by a long shot. But better than it could have been.

Also, the research I did on NDAA indicated convincingly to me that the impact of that law was nowhere near as draconian as people suggested it was. This is not the forum for the debate on that, but the bottom line is that while I did not regard it as a proud moment for Obama, neither did I regard it as a crisis. You clearly think otherwise.

Thank you for your comments – I enjoy hearing from people who have thought out their positions as well as you have, even if ultimately we end up disagreeing still.

Watchdog said...

Thank you for your response, and for your clarification on your outlook on third party supporters. Rather than go back and forth on points two and eight, I'll focus on reasons why I don't believe a third party vote is throwing one's vote away. (Besides believing that voting your conscience is never a wasted vote.)

You're right that the third party candidates can't win. But I disagree that no message can be sent to the winner, or perhaps more importantly, to the loser. Gary Johnson didn't get enough votes in any swing state to overcome Obama's margin over Romney. Had he done so, the reaction of the republicans would have been interesting.

It's possible - even likely - that they would just join in a bipartisan effort to make ballot petitioning process even harder than it is. Remember those Doonesbury strips from 1980 when Mike goes to work for John Anderson? One gag was that the requirements included x number of "left handed pipe welders". And that was before the Nader calamity in 2000. It's even worse now in many states.

But it's also possible that they might have decided that they couldn't afford to alienate the libertarians and Ron Paul supporters when they know they can't take those votes for granted. Again, since the libertarians came up short I think the GOP will focus more on trying to win more of the Hispanic vote than in making concessions to third party supporters, but even that at least opens the door to some much needed immigration reform. Still, the possibility of getting the GOP to take a step towards libertarianism was just a bonus to me.

What I really hope to achieve by continuing to vote libertarian is to raise awareness for the party. I think that's more important than ever. On the one hand, more and more people are supporting positions that we've been consistent on for decades (marriage equality, marijuana legalization, etc.) At the same time, we have a lot of people on the left trying to use "libertarian" as a dirty word by linking it exclusively to people like the Koch brothers.

That's why I was impressed with Gary Johnson's "5 percent" campaign, because it put forth a goal that I think is realistic in the longer term. It meant your vote could have a positive impact even without the candidate's victory.

5% support for a libertarian presidential candidate would be huge for the party, and not just because they would qualify for federal matching funds. (The irony of which doesn't escape me.) More important:

1. Getting placed automatically on the ballot would save the libertarians a lot of money. Their reserves were drained by republican legal challenges to their petition drives in many different states.

2. It also gives a party additional stature and credibility. It would make getting into the next presidential debates at least a possibility, instead of the "no chance in hell status they" currently enjoy. They would be more likely to make the polling threshold used to be included in most of the debates. The debates might still be campaign speeches in sound bites, but it would still be a great opportunity for the LP.

I didn't think they had a chance of getting 5% this year because the election was so close from a popular vote standpoint. In recent times, the third party has only exceeded that percentage when the difference between the two major parties was five points or more (1980, 1992, 1996). The closer the election, the more likely voters are willing to choose between the lesser of two evils.

If you loved Obama or Romney, then it made sense to vote for them. If you were picking the lesser of two evils in a battleground state, then it made sense to vote for them. But the people who didn't like either candidate yet still voted for Obama in Texas, or Romney in California, are the ones who in my opinion truly wasted their vote. The message may have fallen on deaf ears, but it was still there to be sent.

Thanks again for your time.






Snyde Comments said...

"Conservatives serve the useful function of putting a brake on the random undirected enthusiasms of liberals, in the way that liberals serve the useful function of kicking conservatives out of their deep dark caves. The two sides need each other." I'm all for third, fourth or fifth parties, but this statement troubled me. Could you be more specific with regard to the "random, undirected enthusiasms"you refer to regarding the Democrats? No need to clarify with examples of Republican "cave-dwelling."I have yet to find a Libertarian who will speak frankly about corporate overreach in the U.S. government and Citizens United. I'd invite one to convince me that they are not another brand of Republican that will allow Wall Street to subsume our government in the name of "freedom!"

Jason Toddman said...

Snyde: the deal with global warming comes to mind. Not that I don't believe Mankind is at least aggravating the situation (as opposed to being the sole cause of it), but some of the ideas put forth by folks like Al Gore (who hypocritically flies in a private jet and has a carbon footprint 100s of times greater than someone like me who doesn't even drive a car)strike me as being impractical, unproven, economically stifling and way too expensive. I agree some solutions are called for; but also believe some Liberals go overboard on the issue.

David said...

Snyde - it's hard to be too specific when it comes to connecting the enthusiasms of liberals with the Democratic Party, since the Democrats emerged from 25 years of chaos as a center-right party in the 1990s and really don't represent the traditional American left wing anymore. As I said, Obama is essentially Eisenhower without the uniform, and only in context can this be considered at all liberal.

That said, I think if you go back and look at some things you can find examples. Lani Guinier's efforts to get multi-candidate and instant-runoff voting back in the 90s, for example - a well-intentioned but wholly impractical idea.

My statement was meant to indicate that one-party rule (or even one-viewpoint rule) is never a good thing - you have to have some counterpoint to keep the sides honest. And right now I don't see any responsible counterpoint coming from the Republican Party.

Jason - I would hesitate to put global warming on the list, just because the science behind it is sufficiently clear that those who deny it can reasonably be written off as willfully ignorant. It is happening and we are contributing to it in a way that is unprecedented. That last bit is actually the good news - if we have nothing to do with it, we cannot undo it. There are no doubt some ridiculous ideas out there posing as solutions, but most are not as ridiculous as they first seem, and if nothing is done then we will be in for some very bad times indeed.

Terrence Flendersen said...

It sounds like you share many of the same values of the libertarian party...
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David said...

Terrence - actually, that is not really correct. Go back and read the post a bit more closely, particularly the part where I state my belief in the power of government to benefit society (in the introduction) and the part where I explain my support for communities (Point 3). You may also want to read my take on fiscal conservatism, which is here.

In general, while I regard a libertarian tendency to be a useful check on the excesses of those who believe government can solve every problem, I find that anything more than a tendency is an invitation to anarchy, lawlessness and gut-wrenching selfishness. Libertarianism is very much like hot pepper sauce - a little bit spices things up quite nicely, but anything more than that is ruinous.

Thanks for commenting.

Spam Diaries said...

I suspect that Terrence is a spammer, didn't actually read the post he commented on, and won't be reading your response. Note the link in his comment.

David said...

Yeah, I kind of figured that.

But that wasn't the first comment that aimed to associate me with libertarianism, and I felt the response was worth making anyway just to have it out there.

Thanks for confirming my guess, though.