Tuesday, November 25, 2008
First off could you tell me a little about yourself: where you live, your age?
I’m a 33 year old father of a three year old. We (My daughter, my wife and me) live in Reston, Virginia. I pay the bills by working in high-tech for a firm here in Northern Virginia.
How long have you been a Republican? Have you been involved in any campaigns?
I’ve been a Republican since lat 1993-early 1994. I was President of the College Republicans at my University and worked on Secretary Kemp’s staff during the 1996 Presidential campaign.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The story has been used to show how Democrats can end up living in a little bubble where the only reality that exists is that which is around them. They were never curious to look at the wider culture and admit that there were people who might have other views and who were in essence being ignored.
In some ways, the same can be said about some in the GOP these days. In the wake of a devastating loss, no one wants to admit that the GOP has a problem. Like the family that doesn't want to admit that uncle so-and-so is an out and out drunk that needs help, the GOP doesn't want to accept the reality that it has a problem that needs to be address if it is to remain a viable political party.
That problem is the "God problem." It's the problem of allowing religious zealots to control the party that has driven what could be good conservatives away.
In today's Washington Post, Kathleen Parker (a conservative writer that has been on a tear recently since she called for then VP candidate Sarah Palin to step down) writes a blistering attack on the GOP for not owning up to it's "God Problem:"
Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.
So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.
Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.
She calls for the GOP to bring religion back to being a matter of the heart instead of on the front lines of what it means to be conservative. Why? It's all in the numbers:
Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.
Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.
Parker's poison pen is in a similar vein to an op-ed written by former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman who says that among the myriad of reasons for John McCain's loss, chief among them was the social conservatism of Palin:
Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable.
Palin has many attractive qualities as a candidate. Being prepared to become president at a moment's notice was not obviously among them this year. Her selection cost the ticket support among those moderate voters who saw it as a cynical sop to social fundamentalists, reinforcing the impression that they control the party, with the party's consent.
In the wake of the Democrats' landslide victory, and despite all evidence to the contrary, many in the GOP are arguing that John McCain was defeated because the social fundamentalists wouldn't support him. They seem to be suffering from a political strain of Stockholm syndrome. They are identifying with the interests of their political captors and ignoring the views of the larger electorate. This has cost the Republican Party the votes of millions of people who don't find a willingness to acquiesce to hostage-takers a positive trait in potential leaders.
Unless the Republican Party ends its self-imposed captivity to social fundamentalists, it will spend a long time in the political wilderness. On Nov. 4, the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division. It's long past time for the GOP to do the same.
Of course, both women have been rebuffed by conservative bloggers. Erika Anderson over at Culture 11 said the column was like "swallowing soap." Anderson then issues what seems to be the standard line from the Religious Right: we are victims.
The Christian religion is an important part of American culture and cannot be chopped off because people like Parker and Christine Todd Whitman aren’t concerned with those issues.
What is interesting here is how Anderson seems say that only th Religious Right constitutes American Christianity. Nevermind the millions of Christians who don't associate with the far right, but are who would still consider themselves conservative. For Anderson, saying anything bad about Christian conservatives is being anti-religious and masking what is the true problem that ails the GOP. Whatever that is.
I think the problem with whiners like Andersen as well as Jonah Goldberg, is that they live in a conservative echo chamber that doesn't allow them to see what is going on outside of Washington. Having worked for several years in Log Cabin Republicans and being a Republican in the liberal bastion that is the Twin Cities, I can say that things are different around here. I know of people who would be loyal Republicans but refuse to get involved because of the party's stance on issues like gay rights and same sex marriage. Goldberg can complain about how bigoted Parker is, but he ignores how bigoted the Religious Right has been to gays and lesbians, which has had a big effect on the GOP.
What many conservatives have failed to see is how the social conservatives have really turned off potential converts. Try going to a district convention where the talk is always about things like same-sex marriage. Political parties in America are built on coalitions, but the social conservatives just don't play well with others.
Frankly I don't see how being against gay marriage or gay rights in general, being pro-life, or being against stem cell research became the heart of what makes one a conservative these days. What about the emphasis on small or limited government or being fiscally prudent or being strong on national defense?
Is the heavy reliance on social conservatism the only reason the GOP failed this year? Of course not. There are many reasons why the GOP lost. But when you have a bunch people talking about how two men are going to destroy American society as we know it, who think the only way to deal with illegal immigration is to deport 12 million people instead trying to find ways to make them legal and to also stem the tide of illegal immigration and who are more concerned with what happened in 1970 than in what is happening today, you have a party that is not in tune with the times and is not willing to reach out to people who may not agree with the whole agenda, but still could be vital parts of a conservative coalition.
Maybe a few years in the political wilderness will amount to an "intervention."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Republicans for Environmental Protection was founded in 1995 to resurrect the GOP's great conservation tradition and to restore natural resource conservation and sound environmental protection
as fundamental elements of the Republican Party's vision for America.
On a personal note, I have been a member of REP since 2001. During the interview, we talked about the GOP's environmental heritage, how it got off track and what lies ahead.
I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, a company town. Both my parents worked for General Motors. My dad came from his native Louisiana to work at Buick from 1953 to 1992. My mother got on a plane in Puerto Rico and headed to Michgan in 1963. After stints as a teacher and a nurse’s aide, she ended up at AC Spark Plug in 1967. With the exception of some stints in the 80s due to health issues, she worked from ‘67 until 1992.
I came along in 1969, a little over a year after they married. I can remember growing up around cars. I remember driving in Dad’s 1965 Buick Wildcat. It was a sweet car.
In the late 70s, times in Michigan started to get bad. Gas prices went up and the Big Three got flat footed in responding. They ended up making cars that no one wanted. People stopped buying American cars and went to the more efficient cars from Japan: the Toyotas and Hondas.
Meanwhile, things in Flint changed. Plants closed, and people were laid off. Businesses started to leave. Unemployment rose and rose and for a time in the early 80s, Flint had the nation’s highest unemployment rate. The town went from a clean city to an economic basket case.
I left Michigan for good in 1992. Flint was still losing plants and would continue to see GM shed more and more jobs.
I still come back to Michigan to visit my parents. Flint is a shadow of its former self. The population was around 200,000 when I was born; now it is around 100, 000.
These days, I worry about the state of GM. My reasons are personal: my parents. Both of them are now GM retirees in their 70s. I wonder what would happen should GM go under. I know that their pensions are insured by the government, but will they get their full pension or some pittance?
If there is anyone that would like to say “good riddance” to the Big Three, it should be me. For decades, the companies made cars no one wanted, spent time making gas-guzzling SUVs and basically drove away a generation of car buyers. That includes myself, who is the proud owner of Toyota Prius.
I would also say (out of earshot of my parents) that the United Auto Workers forced the automakers into contracts that were not sustainable.
I agree that the Big Three got themselves into this hole. But I have to say that in the end, I think the feds should consider giving them some kind of financial help, with strings attached, of course.
I know, some would say that the free market means that you are on your own. Some would also say that we can’t “nationalize” every industry. After all, it’s only throwing good money after bad.
Most would say that if the Big Three go, life will go on. This is what Megan McArdle has to say about autoworkers:
GM can’t be saved. It needs to go into bankruptcy, which is the only possible
way I can see to adjust its legacy labor problems, and possibly provide
sufficient shock to the corporate culture to allow the company to make a
competent car. Even that may not work. And it’s going to involve a whole bunch
of pain for everyone.
But unless we’re willing to essentially nationalize three auto companies,
that pain is going to come, sooner or later. And if we want to keep auto workers
from feeling pain, then we should just up and give them money. There’s no reason
to waste steel on a lot of crappy cars.
Forgive me, but I want to know what planet she is on. Autoworkers have been feeling pain for a long time. Look at the factories that sit empty or the ones that have been razed. Think about all the jobs lost. There are people that have been feeling pain for 30 years.
A recent NPR interview thinks that if one or more of the Big Three close, the costs would be big. And let’s not forget that if the companies close, so do the suppliers and every business that depends on autoworkers. States like Michigan would become economic disasters.
All this has been met with some annoyance. Again, I understand. But I also know what could happen in states that have a heavy American auto presence. The results would not be pretty.
I do wonder if those who don’t seem to care about this, do so because they have never lived in working class towns like Flint. It’s easy for someone in California to say to Ford to “go hang,” when your job isn’t going to be affected. But for someone who has seen the downturn up close, this isn’t something to take lightly.
So, even though it goes against my conservative fiber, I hope that President-elect Obama does do something to help. Hold them to promises, make them pay back loans, whatever. But don’t tell us that this pain is good for us. Because I sure as hell know it isn’t.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I come at this with a lot of mixed feelings. One the one hand, I am frustrated at how the gay community tends to pretend that gay persons of color don't exist and then have the nerve to get angry when people of color vote against gays. On the other, I am upset at the homophobia that is present in the black community that forces gay men and lesbians to live lives on the "down low," hiding their sexuality from their loved ones.
As an African American, I have to say that racism and homophobia are not the same thing and the predominantly white gay community needs to be aware of that. I'm not minimizing homophobia, but I am just asserting that it is different than the discrimation that blacks have felt. But even more so is the fact that when the subject of gay marriage is brought up in the media, the people we see are all white. It's as if blacks or Latinos or Asian gays don't exist. So, if you are black person going to vote for this measure and you see no black people being portrayed, then why would you vote for it? It's just going to help white folks.
But as a gay man and as am African American gay man, I know how pervasive homophobia is in our communities. Growing up, I remember being chastised if I bent my wrist downward, since that would tell people I'm gay. Because I didn't act in the hyper-masculine way that all black boys were supposed to act like, I recieved my fair share of the "faggot" epithet. And I remember preachers condemning homosexuals from their pulpits and the derogatory chatter in barbershops. Because of all this, gay African Americans have tended to hide in plain sight, downplaying their sexuality.
Prop 8 passed for a lot of reasons, but two main reasons is because of racism in the gay community and homophobia in the black community. We can't try to shut our eyes to either sin.
In my view, state and national groups have to be more willing to be truly inclusive. Stop just talking about white gay couples, but seek out mixed or couples of color.
And please stop linking gay rights to the civil rights movement. Black people find that belittling to their struggles. Find other ways to influence African Americans.
But the other thing that has to happen is that African Americans have to confront their own homophobia. Gay African Americans have to come out and be bold. We have to live our lives in the open and not hide.
Straight African Americans who are gay-supportive need to also speak up and condemn homophobes in our community. Black parents of gay children need to speak up for their kids.
There is a lot of work to be done, but nothing will change as long as we point fingers.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Here are a few words from the homepage:
As Republicans, we face a choice.
Either we can spend the next several months -- or years -- trying to figure out what just happened, excusing our defeat away as a temporary blip or the result of a poor environment, and waiting for Barack Obama to trip up. Or we can refuse to take this defeat lying down, and start building the future of our party now.
2008 made one thing clear: if allowed to go unchecked, the Democrats' structural advantages, including their use of the Internet, their more than 2-to-1 advantage with young voters, their discovery of a better grassroots model -- will be as big a threat to the future of the GOP as the toxic political environment we have faced the last few years.
The time is now to set in motion the changes needed to rebuild our party from the grassroots up, modernize the way we run campaigns, and attract different, energetic, and younger candidates at all levels.
We must be conservative in philosophy -- but bold in our approach. We don't need a slight tweak here or there. We need transformation. We can't keep fighting a 21st century war with 20th century weapons.
This is a document about bringing the Republican Party into the future -- and it isn't just about strategies and tactics.
They also seem to be saying it's fruitless to look for another Reagan:
Revitalizing the party will have much to do with how we talk about issues and standing on principle. And, above all, it will require leadership.
At the same time, waiting for a political savior to materialize out of thin air is not an option. Eventually, strong new leaders will emerge. And when they do, they must inherit a party stronger than the one in its current state. Our grassroots must be stronger and more open. We must inspire young leaders to want to run for office as Republicans.
There are several ideas afoot, but there is one that makes the most sense and it basically copies what the Democrats did in 2006 and 2008:
By 2012, the Republican Party will field candidates in all 435 Congressional districts in America, from inner city Philadelphia to suburban Dallas, and our leaders must be held accountable for progress towards this goal. With an 80 plus vote margin separating Democrats from Republicans in the House, it's time to widen the playing field, not narrow it. While our targeting has gotten narrower, honing in on a class of seats we feel entitled to because they lean Republican, Democrats have been stealing traditionally 60-40 Republican seats right and left. It's time to return the favor.
What's more, it won't be good enough to run perfunctory races in safe seats. 2008 showed us that every seat -- Republican or Democrat -- is potentially a target. If you aren't seriously challenged this time, chances are you'll be challenged the next time, or the time after that. Incumbents who don't prepare for this reality will find themselves scrambling to catch up when the inevitable happens. That means that our party needs to set a new standard that campaigns will be professional and fully staffed in each and every seat.
That's a good strategy, but that will also mean that they have to make some accomdations on social issues due to location. The Dems ran candidates that were more conservative in areas that leaned more Republican. If this group wants to run candidates everywhere, especially in districts that lean Democrat, then they need to run candidates that are pro-choice and pro-gay rights to have a shot. Here in Minneapolis, the GOP seems to always run people who are socially conservative in a district that is not even close to that.
All in all, Rebuild the Party has a good idea and is not just a flash in the pan. It's headed up by Patrick Ruffini, a GOP operative and seems to be pretty diverse, with people accross the GOP political spectrum. They have also added a tool where people can suggest ways the GOP can change and also vote on those issues.
I don't know if this has a chance, but who knows? If you know of someone who is a conservative and under 40, you might want to pass this along to them.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
For years, I have been involved in trying to help steer the party away from the hard right and more to the center right. It has not been easy and at times, it has felt rather fruitless.
Tonight, it not only seems fruitless, but pointless.
Republican leaders seem to have a tin ear when it comes to dealing with the future of the party. The message to them after two losses was that they are not conservative enough, as if people are crying for earmark reform and not health care reform.
This is what Brent Bozell has had to say about last night's losses:
The liberal wing of the GOP has caused the collapse of the Republican Party. It is no longer a viable player in the political conversation, and deservedly so: For a decade it has spat on the values of Ronald Reagan. Conservatives let it be known on Tuesday in races all over the country that it has had enough with the betrayal.
There's a liberal wing of the GOP? Please. There hasn't been an active liberal wing of the Republican Party for about 30 years. When you lose the last Republican in New England, you don't have a liberal wing. If there was a wing, I'd be joining that party.
The frustrating thing is that the party has closed their eyes to people like: someone that is economically conservative, but socially liberal. If you saw my ballot yesterday, it was split ticket, Obama at the top, but the GOP downballot. I'm someone that is open to taxes, but also wants the budget balanced, and I don't want to us to go back to the bad old days of 70 percent tax rates. I think health care reform is important, but I don't want the government running the show, just making sure that everyone has access and help those who can't pay. I think welfare reform was a good idea and think that charter schools are a good thing that could help our educational system. I am strong on defense. I believe in immigration, but I also think that those who come into the country illegally have to pay something for breaking the law before we talk about a path to legal citizenship. I am for regulation, but not at the expense of the entrepenurship that has fueled America.
What is hopeful is that there are people like David Frum, David Brooks, Ross Douthat and others who are calling for a more responsive conservatism. But the thing is, the people in charge aren't listening. On Thursday, members of the far right are going to meet as if the answer is to be more conservative instead of responding to the needs America as it is today. Isn't that conservative, to view the world as it is, not as what we would like it to be?
In the end, I don't know how long I will stay. I'm not going to the Democrats because I just don't agree with all of their ideology. Philosophicaly, I am a conservative. But the GOP is losing someone like me. I know of many who have left or are just hanging on.
The Brent Bozells of the world can meet and talk about how they need to "more conservative." That's a ticket to a looong time in the wilderness.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
How we lose is just as important as how we win. If Obama showed solemity in winning, McCain showed honor in losing. Kudos to Senator McCain.
But I am also an African American. My father grew up in the Jim Crow South, and I've faced my share of racism and discrimination. Tonight, as my partner Daniel and I heard now President-elect Obama speak, I started to shed tears and that says a lot, since I don't cry that often.
I'm crying because something unimagninable happened tonight. Something I had never dream would happen anytime in the near future. A man that has skin like mine, was elected the President of a country that only a generation ago gave its former slaves full civil rights.
Maybe the most telling thing tonight as I watched the returns come in was to see when Iowa was called for Obama. The news person circled the statistic that revealed the percentage of African Americans living in the state that started Obama down this road: 2 percent. A state with 2 percent of African Americans was able to vote decisively for an African American. We may still have a long way to go, but we have really come a mighty long way.
In the coming weeks and months, the task of governing will begin. President-elect Obama will face a nation with a lot of troubles and the GOP has to begin the hard task of rebuilding again.
But for tonight, I will celebrate and wish Obama the best. I will also thank God to live in a country where a skinny kid with a funny name can become President.
And I will probably shed a few more tears.
Daniel and I had moved five blocks away and we didn't think to update our the state with our new address. Thank goodness that Minnesota is one of the few states that has same-day registration, so we were able to re-register and then vote.
As I've said before, I voted for Obama for President. But I voted a split ticket, voting for Republican Norm Coleman for Senate. He is the incumbent and while most of my liberal friends can't stand him, I have appreciated his pragmatism, his ability to get things done when he was mayor of St. Paul and in his time in the Senate where he has reached accross the isle to pass legislation. It's interesting that the normally liberal Minneapolis Star Tribune endorsed Coleman. Kinda similar to Obama, I am voting because of temperment than because of specific policy.
As for Coleman's challenger, Al Franken? Well, Minnesota has already had one entertainer in Jesse Ventura that turned out to be a disaster in some cases.
More thoughts later today...
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Daniel Larison can understand why people are upset:
the most credible pro-Obama argument that can be made is that the GOP must be held accountable and Obama is not McCain, but I still don’t think that is a persuasive case for casting a vote for Obama, much less urging others to do likewise. You have to believe strongly that a McCain Presidency would be an intolerable disaster for our country, but for the most part the people who are most inclined to believe this about him are not the ones going over to Obama. Many have hedged their Obama endorsement with paeans to the “old” McCain whom they once liked and their alleged Obama endorsements are filled with disappointment that McCain has let them down, as if to say, “I can’t believe you’re making me do this.” Pretty clearly, the Obamacon phenomenon is on the whole not really an endorsement of Obama or anything he proposes to do, which is why most of the endorsements coming from the right cannot withstand much scrutiny. That’s the whole point: the Republican ticket is so unappealing to these people that they will vote for its defeat in full knowledge that there is little or nothing to say on behalf of the man they’re electing. That is how complete Republican failure now is. Imagine how much worse it might have been had the Democrats nominated another “centrist” Southerner.
But he also thinks we are kidding ourselves:
Endorsing Obama is a vote of no confidence in the Republican Party, but in a weird way it is also an expression of what is probably utterly misguided hope that the Republicans will learn from the defeat and adjust to new political realities. It is also a failure of imagination to the extent that Obamacons sometimes rhetorically ask, “How much worse could it get?” It could get much, much worse, and Obama endorsers have put themselves in the odd position of taking on some responsibility for what is to come while having absolutely zero influence, but if it doesn’t bother them I can’t get very worked up about it.
In fact, we might be. We could be electing a very liberal president with a liberal Congress that will basically leave Obamacons high and dry. But I think instead of saying that we are setting ourselves up for a heartbreak, one should be asking why are people defecting. To put it another way, instead of mocking the people who jump off the ship, the GOP and the conservative movement should be asking why the ship is sinking. Larison aludes to this in his last paragraph:
Far more important in the aftermath than coming up with new and amusing ways to mock the Obama endorsers is an effort to understand and remedy the profound failures that made this phenomenon possible before a major realignment does occur.
Right now, that question is not being asked. That's understandable, since the leadership of the GOP is probably in denial right now. However, after Tuesday, bloggers, writers and GOP leaders need to ask what has happened to Good Ship GOP and how to best right the ship. (Pun intended.)
The truth is, people having been jumping ship long before McCain ran for President. There have been many Republicans that have been disgusted with how the GOP has run the country over the last few years. But the leadership has ignored those voices. So, the people decided to answer in a way that people would understand: by not voting for the Republican candidate and voting for the other party's candidate.
Is it silly? Maybe. I can say personally that my vote is less for Obama, than against the GOP. I don't know, how else can people send a message that things are not going right among conservatives?
Will it work? I don't know. Having the GOP lose Congress in 2006 didn't do much to help the GOP understand that it has a problem and that it needs to change.
I don't really want a liberal mandate. But the conservative movement is in such a shambles, maybe it needs to have a "time out" before it can assume leadership again.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
If you know of people in California, please share this message with them.
*WWRRD stands for What Would Ronald Reagan Do?