A not insignificant amount of my time online is spent at places somewhat right of center, as evidenced by my blogroll. I have multiple reasons for doing so. I think it is good to get multiple perspectives on policy and politics. But I am also engaged in some of the debate over the future of the Republican Party. This might strike some people as odd, given that I have been a registered Democrat for over 10 years.
But, as noted in my about section, I used to not only be a Republican, but earned at least some of my living working in GOP politics. I have consulted to campaigns ranging from state legislative up to, and including, federal campaigns (House and Senate). My time in the GOP also included a few years as a local party official, where I helped to rebuild a moribund GOP apparatus into a party that held several municipal offices (including my own positions on the school committee and charter commission).
Given my background and experiences, I believe that I have something to offer the dialogue about the Party’s future. Also, as someone whose primary concern is good policy, I have an interest in a Republican Party that is issues-oriented and reality based. A strong democracy requires (at least) two competitive and sane parties.
Finally, my own policy views are decidedly moderate (with the possible exception of marriage equality, where I am an absolutist). I have switched parties more than once already and would not rule out another in the future. Of course, that is really a product of whether or not the GOP comes back from the precipice (maybe they have already plunged over).
Why I Left the GOP
The 1994 election. I had been working on a Senate race, one that we ultimately lost in the primary (to Mittens!). I ended up endorsing Senator Kennedy for reelection, though I noted that I did not endorse his ideology. But it was the aftermath of that election that really came to show me the path of the modern GOP.
What we see on display now is exactly what I warned of, way back in 1995. At that time I saw a Party adrift from its intellectual roots, inching closer to Idiot America. This was during the rise of Rush Limbaugh and right before Fox News came into fruition. At the time (I’m paraphrasing and don’t have the document here) I said that the GOP was becoming a party of bigots, xenophobes and religious zealots. (I was rather prescient.) And that has become all too true.
A party that once treasured intellectuals no longer has a place for most folks within striking distance of sanity. The GOP political apparatus, abetted by their megaphones at Fox and talk radio, have extolled the virtues of being dumb. Their message is not based on becoming a better person, or creating a better society. It consists of equal parts of paranoia and stupidity.
The current GOP has no policy agenda, no alternatives to the President’s policies. Instead it has ridiculous shouts of “you lie” and “socialism.” Instead of science and technology, the GOP has global warming denialism and Terry Schiavo. Instead of policy wonks they have teabaggers and birthers. Instead of Bill Buckley, they have Glenn Beck.
The current GOP is in a mess entirely of its own making. It began in the mid 90’s, escalated with the Clinton impeachment fiasco and has festered ever since. The only way out of this swamp is to speak honestly to the base- tell them their prejudices are wrong, tell them Fox and talk radio is trash, and show them the way back to a principled conservatism that can not only win elections, but contribute to moving our great country forward.