Thursday, March 23, 2006

I Didn't Leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party Left Me.

Over the last few months, I've been noticing a fair number of people leaving the GOP who are not the so-called "RINOs" or liberal Republicans like myself, but tend to be liberatarian/conservative.

Take one of my friends who is a conservative in the Ronald Reagan mold, whom I will call Mike. Mike was busy involved with me in Log Cabin and was active in the party. Late last year, he started to voice his weariness on the current state of the party. He was angry about their support here in Minnesota for a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, as well as their betrayal of fiscal conservatism. Earlier this year, he had enough and left the party. He didn't become a Democrat, but he is now a conservative without a home.

I am reminded of this after reading John Coles' post about is leaving the GOP after two decades. He writes:

The right wing of the Republican party has sold the libertarian/centrist wing of the party a bill of goods, and the modern ‘conservatives’ are clearly nothing more than statists who, rather than redistributing wealth like their brethern on the left, instead have decided that the state must have excessive rights in order to ‘protect’ us all from whatever the imagined fear du jour might be. Meanwhile, no one is left protecting us from the religionists and the the state itself.

In the new Republican era, only fetuses , tax shelters, and ‘traditional’ marriage deserve protection. According to the actions of the current Republican party, the rest of us need to be wiretapped, monitored, have our homes inspected for whatever reason without warrants, and are incapable of making decisions on our own. My 20 year affair with the Republican party is coming to an end. I am not voting for any Republican in 2006 at any level, and I will be hard pressed to vote for this party in 2008- unless, of course, Cindy Sheehan is the Democratic candidate. These ‘conservatives’ need abut 10-15 years in the wilderness.

The GOP, when it's not bowing down at the feet of Pat Robertson, should be paying attention to the loss of the Goldwater/Reagan conservatives. These were the guys, NOT the religious right that brought the party to prominence. These were the ones who really believed in limited government and a strong national defense and they very well might stay home in November or vote for the Democratic candidate.

Speaking as one who considers himself the lovechild of Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater, I have a lot of disgust at the some of the current leadership of the GOP, especially its baiting of gays. My view remains: I call myself an Independent Republican (hence the name NeoMugwump) and I will work for those who uphold true conservative values and I won't support those who don't. That doesn't mean I'm gonna vote Democrat, but it DOES mean, anyone who supports limiting my rights as a gay man won't be getting my vote come November.

Ronald Reagan said when asked why he left the Democratic Party, that it was not that he left the party, but that the party left him. Four decades later, there are a lot of conservatives that can say the same thing.


plez... said...

I think you were delusional when you "joined" the Republican Party. It has ALWAYS been about "fetuses , tax shelters, and ‘traditional’ marriage". Somewhere along the way you got caught up in their anti-Liberal rhetoric and thought it would be chic to join their "Big Tent!"

Remember Reaganomics and his trickle down economics (i.e. massive tax shelters for the rich)? Do you ever remember ole Ronnie waxing poetic about good old fashioned American family values - I can assure you that it didn't leave any room for non-traditional families/marriages (was he even speaking to his gay son before Alzheimer's dimmed his lights?). And you're giving George Bush way too much credit if you think he has the mental capacity to deviate from "the script" and create a "New Republican" philosophy.

It seems like you've had an epiphany and the empty promises of the Republican Party are finally becoming evident to you. No, the Republican Party hasn't left you, you've seen that you were never really a part of (or welcome in) the Republican Party!

W. Shedd said...

It is also worth noting that the Republican party has been far, far from being fiscally conservative for quite some time now. Dubya just really brought it to everyones attention by racking up massive spending increases while also giving massive tax breaks - on the tail of the government actually having a budget surplus for a couple of years.

But Republicans have spent like drunken sailors on shore leave for decades now. Deficits have increased more under Republicans than Democrats since the 1960s.

Ruth Henriquez said...

Response to what "plez" said:

I don't think the blogger is "delusional." My reasons for agreeing with him stem from my interactions with Republicans as a young person. I grew up in the D.C. area in the 60s and 70s. My parents knew many people in government--both Democrats and Republicans, as my mother was a Democrat and my father a Republican.

The Republicans I knew were indeed moderate (and, I will add, more pragmatic than ideological), unlike the neoconservative Republicans we see now, who have not followed the fiscal conservatism or the
respect for civil liberties of their forbears. Moreover, many of these people were ardent conservationists; indeed, most people nowadays don't realize that the conservation movement began in the Republican party, thanks to Teddy Roosevelt.

And as for what the original blog asserted--yes, it is true that many of these Republicans are distraught over what has happened to the party, including the lack of fiscal restraint which has plagued the party since the Reagan years. I know quite a few of them; some are leaving the party to become Independents, and some are planning to stay within the party and fight what they see happening.

Republicans didn't talk about gay rights back in the Reagan era because it wasn't the big issue it is now--very few people were talking about it publicly. Interestingly, Barry Goldwater became an advocate for gay rights
in the years before he died. Many libertarian-leaning Republicans believe that homosexuality is a private choice which should not subject a person to discrimination.

Furthermore, one need not believe that Bush had the "mental capacity" to create a "new Republican" philosophy. . .he is surrounded by players who have been instrumental in the neoconservative movement and who have greatly influenced him. But he has become the figurehead of the movement, and thus is the one with whom people most readily associate its rise.

To say that the blogger was "never really a part of (or welcome in) the Republican Party" shows a lack of knowledge about the broad range of opinions held by those who call themselves Republicans. I'm not myself a Republican, but I respect the fact that the party of Lincoln does have a progressive, pragmatic wing.