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.