Thursday, June 28, 2007

"The Elephant Looks In the Mirror"

I was in on a conference call from Log Cabin Republicans last night that discussed a poll that was conducted on the current state of the Republican Party. Now, if you listen to the mainstream media, it tends to view the GOP as a bunch of Bible Thumpers. However, according to this survey, the picture of the GOP is far more complex and diverse (or maybe fractured). The poll, conducted by GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio came up with these interesting facts, especially in the area of gay rights. This is from the press release from Log Cabin:

an overwhelming 77% of Republicans believe an employer should not have the right to fire an employee based solely on their sexual orientation. Even among social conservatives, 67% don’t believe an employer should be able to fire someone for being gay. “Republicans in Congress who will vote later this summer on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act should take these numbers to heart,” said (Patrick) Sammon (Log Cabin Executive Director). “Rank and file Republicans support this common sense legislation.”

And on allowing gays to serve openly in the military?

49% of Republicans believe gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the U.S. military, while 42% are opposed.

What about marriage rights?

43% of Republicans support either marriage equality or civil unions. 51% oppose all relationship recognition. “There’s much more work to be done educating Republicans about this issue, but we’re encouraged that almost half of Republicans support basic fairness for gay and lesbian families,” said Sammon.

I agree there is still work to do in the GOP on this issue, but it is hopeful that a sizeable minority does support marriage or civil unions for same sex couples.

And finally:

53% of respondents agree that “the Republican Party has spent too much time focusing on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage and should instead be spending time focusing on economic issues such as taxes and government spending.”

It's an interesting survey and give those of us wanting a more centrist GOP some hope. If more moderate thinking people get involved in the GOP, we could see these numbers grow.

You can read the whole survey, by going here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Waiting for Perot"

This past weekend, I spent a few hours at the Log Cabin Republicans booth at the Twin Cities Gay Pride festival. It's always interesting to do this. Sometimes you get the occasional grouch that thinks we are basically "Jews for Hitler," but more often than not, we also get a lot of folks that are thankful we are there. As has been the case for the past few years, we have had someone from the local congressional district party helping us out. This fellow African American (who is straight) is an unabashed moderate Republican that has stayed in the party. He decided to get people signed up to recieve information about the caucuses next March. His belief is that if you want to make the party more centrist, then you need to have more moderate folks going to things like caucus to start making those changes.

Another friend of mine, Jim agreed. Jim is gay and has gone to caucus, being brave enough to put forward a gay-positive proposal. It didn't pass, to go forward, but the margin of defeat was close. Despite the right-ward drift of the party, Jim is not planning on leaving the party. He is a life long Republican and its his home.

I've been thinking about this in light of the recent brouhaha over Michael Bloomberg's expected Independent run for the White House and Pete Abel's post about Third Parties. He cites another blogger from the blog Stubborn Facts who believes this about those who want a third party:

"To be frank, what I believe really lies behind the complaints about the two-party system - consciously or otherwise - is a desire to get one's own way. These folks' views aren't prevailing in the present system, and since they're such rational, reasonable, sensible people, with rational, reasonable, sensible policy views, obviously, if the system isn't producing winners who agree with their policy views, then the system must be broken. After all, any system that worked would produce rational, reasonable and sensible politicians espousing rational, reasonable, and sensible policies, like the ones that the 3d party boosters want. Since they aren't getting their way, and since that obviously means the system is broken, they want to change the system, believing that doing so will lead to them getting their way. "

To which Pete adds:

The irony here, of course, is that third-party boosters typically justify their boosterism on the basis of the extreme polarization and lack of compromise that plagues today's two-party system; and yet what they really want, per Simon, is not compromise, but their "own way."

I think both are correct. Those that whine about how the system is broken and that we need a third party to solve everything are just as bad as the partisans they criticize. I've heard and seen to many former Republicans leave the party because the party isn't perfect in every view. But the fact is, there is no perfect party. Both parties are fallible. In fact, this whole system of government is fallible. It's run by fallible beings.

Ten years ago, I was one of those who thought that a third party would solve everything. If we got into power, then things would get done. Well, in Minnesota, that did happen, when Jesse Ventura got into power as governor in 1998. Did it change things? Jesse got in, and somethings did change, but in the end, he was surprised to find that once in power, people didn't do things his way. He was shocked when the press assailed him. In 2002, he left the governorship angry and bitter, taking his toys with him.

What he didn't realize is that politics is a rough and tumble game and you don't always get your way. In the end, you have to fight for what you believe in. And that also means, that in the end you won't get everything you want.

Back in 2000-01, I decided to leave the Indendence Party and join the GOP. Was it a perfect fit? Heavens no. But it was close enough in many ways and I also wanted to have a place at the table, even if I had to fight for it. The problem with too many centrists is that they don't think politics should be about hard work. They expect some messianic leader to come down from the mountaintop and set all things right. Nevermind, that the messiah is flawed and that he or she won't get their way all the time.

My belief is that if you are a centrist and think that your views are not getting heard, don't waste your time on a third party that is going nowhere fast and only strokes the ego of whatever leader is in charge. If you are a frustrated moderate, then join one of the two major parties that fit you best. Go to a caucus meeting. Make your voice heard and know that you might not always get everything you want.

I say this especially to those former Republicans who are frustrated. Stop expecting the party to change on its own, because it won't. As long as moderates are silent and they only hear from the hard right, then they won't change. "But I don't like the Religious Right!" you say. Fine, I don't either, but that's not a reason to leave the party. Hell, there are people in my family I'm not crazy about, but I don't leave my family. "I don't like President Bush!" you say. Well, last I checked political parties are not susposed to fan clubs, but ways to get policy done. Stop whining, get organized and change things.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm a Black, Gay Republican. Deal With It.

I was going to write about the whole Bloomberg stuff, but I decided to write about something that's been bothering me lately. A while back two of my blogmates over at Central Sanity have said (or not said) things that have bothered me. One wondered why I was in a party that didn't like me. The other always talks about moderate Republicans, but uses Pete Abel as an example and never myself.

This is all interesting because it seems at times, that if you are not a straight white person, then your are pretty much limited in what your politics can be. Both liberals and conservatives seem to think that persons of color or gays can only be on the Left.

Now, I have nothing against the Left. I have many friends that are liberals and I respect their views and I even learn a thing or two. What bothers me is that because I am black and gay, my political views are viewed as questionable. It's as if all blacks and all gays SHOULD be Democrats since we are "liked" there.

But the fact is, that I don't agree with a lot of the philosophy of the Dems. I tend to believe in lower taxes and that government is not the solution to every problem. When I decided to become a Republican, I did so after a lot of reading and thinking. I wasn't attracted to the hard-right ideologies being spewed, but I was interested in an older version that was still being found in groups like Republicans for Environmental Protection and Log Cabin Repubicans.

This is why I stay with the GOP: to be a reminder of things past and a hope that it will be again.

I am a black, gay moderate Republican that chooses to be who he is.

And if you can't accept that, to bad.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If You're Not Angry...

There is a saying that I've found on bumper-stickers that says, "If you're not angry, then you're not paying attention." The meaning behind that statement is that society, social justice is moved by anger, by seeing injustice in the world.

There is some truth in that statement. I mean, to want to change things, you need to be upset at what you are seeing around you.

But as much as anger can move us to change, it can also be a poison that can hurt society as a hold. People on the political left and right are angry. On the right, all you have to do is listen to talk-radio and some right wing blogs. The political left has seen the sucess of the angry Right and has copied it, with left wing blogs becoming as venomous as their conservative counterparts. On each side, there is a lot of talk about how evil the other side is and how they can't be civil, when faced with such evil.

The problem here is this angry discourse have left us with no real answers to some of our most pressing issues and it has forced good politicians to basically whore themselves to the angry bases of both parties. David Broder has talked about how presidential candidates have basically unmoored themselves from the center and have tried to please their bases. Broder writes:

Democrats brushed aside concerns about the impact of their votes to cut off funding for the troops in Iraq or the larger implications of a precipitous withdrawal from that country. Republicans were casual about contemplating the use of nuclear weapons against Iran or the effects of foreclosing a path to citizenship for millions of people living illegally in the United States.

I have to say, just like the problem with the Republicans was that they never really thought through what it meant to invade Iraq, the Democrats are guilty of wanting to leave Iraq without really thinking through what that means for the Middle East and the world.

I agree with Broder that hearing the Republican presidential candidates talk so blithely about a nuclear strike against Iran made me think I was watching "Dr. Stranglove." It also saddens me that only John McCain showed any humanity in dealing with illegal immigration. Everyone else was trying to placate the nativist camp in the party.

In all cases, the candidates are please the angry extremes, that isn't concerned with policy, but with making the other side look bad. It's all emotion with no thought. Maybe in another time, leaders in Washington would come together to solve these problems, not in ways that please the bases, but in ways that would benefit everyone. On Iraq, yes, I would agree with many that we have to start thinking about leaving. But how do we do that without creating a bigger mess? Many on the far left don't seem to have an answer. They seemed to be more concerned about "ending George Bush's war" instead of trying to create an endgame that doesn't end up biting us in the ass.

Republicans have to face up to the idea that you aren't going to get rid of 12 million illegal aliens. So, how do we find a way to make them legal without just creating amnesty? And oh yeah, they need to remember that Saint Ronald was bullish on immigration.

I think we need less anger and more reason in politics. Yes, I am angry that President Bush got us into this war. But that alone isn't going to solve this mess. We need politicians that will "reason together" and find competent solutions, not simply something that will please the furious few.

I close with these words from Joe Klein:

the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn't move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics.

And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party's bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh's show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats. The spitballs aimed at me don't matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right—in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.

What he said.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sucess Has a Thousand Fathers...

Rod Dreher nails it:

Few of us stood up to Bush when he took us to this disastrous war in Iraq. Few, if any, stood up to him over his foolish support for Rumsfeld, long after it became obvious what a disaster Rumsfeld was. Few, if any, stood up to him over his amassing of power in the executive branch. Few, if any, stood up to him on the spending. Few, if any, stood up to him over the massive prescription drug benefit. Few stood up to him over the political hackery pervading his administration, which became distressingly obvious during Katrina (indeed, there are still Republicans now who insist that the corrupt politicization of the Department of Justice is a non-issue, because these people "serve at the president's pleasure"). Correct me if I'm wrong, but the first time any of us stood up in significant numbers, and with full-throated voice, against the president was over the Harriet Miers debacle. And then we fell silent again, for the most part.

So yes, by all means let's turn our backs on this failed presidency, and save what we can, while we can. But let's not kid ourselves: Bush has failed conservatives, yes, but we have also failed ourselves. It doesn't take much courage to stand up for conservative principle to a president as weak as this one has become. It would have taken real courage to stand up for conservative principle in 2002, 2003, 2004, even early 2005. How many did? I know I didn't -- not until Katrina and Miers, which came late in 2005. If we're looking to blame someone for the failure of Republican government and the conservative crack-up, look to the White House, yes, and look to the late, unlamented Republican Congress. But also look to the conservative talk show hosts, the conservative columnists, and finally, in the mirror. The only way we're going to rebuild after the present and coming political shattering is through honest reckoning, and taking responsibility for what we've done. It is tempting to blame Bush for everything. But it's not fair, and it's not honest. Bush is today who he always was. The difference is we conservatives pretty much loved the guy -- when he was a winner.

Many Republicans will no doubt blame the President come November 2008 when the GOP loses more seats and maybe loses the Presidency, but they themselves have to accept some of the blame as well.

But I think something more is going on here than the President's messup. What does the GOP stand for? What should it stand for? I think that these are the questions that the party is going to have to ask and struggle to answer long after Bush retires to Crawford.

However you describe it, conservatism has failed. The question now is how to fix it. And President Bush is only part of the problem.