It's increasingly difficult for me to tolerate the repeated references to Ronald Reagan and the multiple commitments to returning the GOP to Reagan's principles, especially when the apparent platform for doing so may be limited to three planks. As defined in Ensign's latest plea, they are the war on terror, immigration reform, and sustaining Bush's tax cuts.
The first two on that list are certainly worthwhile, but where's the strategy?
How exactly will Republicans, if they regain control of the Senate, suggest we conduct the war on terror? Will Reagan's effective combination of strength and diplomacy be restored?
On immigration reform, I'm encouraged by Ensign's language – "common sense reform that keeps our economy going and respects the rule of law." And yet, President Bush (rare as such moments of lucidity might be for him) actually made a relatively decent proposal on how to accomplish that reform, but the former GOP majority nixed it. (Granted, that nixing might have been due more to the belligerence of the House than the Senate; I honestly don't recall. Still, I hope the reader will excuse the error if there is one. Recent history compels me, fairly or not, to paint the whole lot of them with a skeptic's brush.)
And on tax cuts, yes, that's quite "Reaganish" in tone, but what about a balanced budget or even some old-fashioned Republican fiscal restraint? Haven't seen that in a long time, and I miss it..
Net: Before I can donate even a single hard-earned dollar to the cause of restoring a GOP Senate Majority, I need to first see some proof with my proverbial pudding. Other conservative-inclined individuals might accept shallow platitudes, honorable Senator, but I simply can't.
I can totally understand his frustration and anger. I'm also going to let you in on something:
I haven't given a dime to the GOP, not at the national level and not at the state level. Why? Because the current party leadership doesn't reflect my views.
However, I do give money to Republican organizations that do reflect my Republican values. They, in turn, support Republican elected officials and candidates who reflect those values. Some of those groups include:
- Republicans for Environmental Protection- a group that promotes conservation;
- Log Cabin Republicans - a groups of gay and lesbian Republicans promoting equality within the GOP and in the larger society for gay and lesbian Americans;
- Republican Leadership Council- A group led by former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman and former Senator John Danforth who promote moderate Republican values;
- Republican Majority for Choice- a group of pro-choice Republicans.
There are probably others that I don't know about, but I would tell Pete he should consider giving money to these groups. They are in an uphill battle against the far right and they need support. The sad thing is that with the exception of the Log Cabin Republicans, none of these organizations recieve a lot of press attention. My guess is that the media has so bought into the notion that the GOP is made up of only neocons and theocons that they don't bother. I think that's a shame because they are standing up for the real conscience of the GOP.
This leads to another question. For some reasons, Americans tend to look at poltical parties and political philosophies in terms of black and white, vanilla or chocolate ice cream. I am thankful for Michael van der Galien who tries to show that political philosophy is much more diverse than liberal or conservative (which in Europe have vastly different meanings).
The fact is, conservatism doens't have to mean tax cuts all time, spend like crazy, and hating gays. There are many styles of conservatism beyond what passes for conservatism. Americans need to start seeing more nuance in out politics instead of thinking that there is only one way of thinking. Why should I let the neocons and theocons (and the media) determine who is a true conservative?
Do I feel at home in the GOP now? No, not totally. But I do know of the history of the GOP and I will make a home in the GOP. I consider myself a squatter right now and I'm not leaving.
Such political philosophies out there include:
- Liberal Conservatism;
- Conservative Liberalism (I think this is the one I most closely identify with);
I just think it's high time for Americans to start thinking outside the box and not let others define us.