Monday, February 23, 2009

Outcast, Pariah, Republican

“You’re not a Republican, are you?”

That question has been asked of me quite a bit lately, and always with a mixture of shock, horror, and pity. I can’t possibly be a Republican! I’m walking upright, knuckles well above dragging-on-the-sidewalk length. I speak in complete sentences and otherwise appear to be in possession of my faculties. I’m well-educated, irreligious, and I live in Los Angeles. So how can I possibly be a Republican?

It's insulting, narrow-minded and condescending to believe that no intelligent, rational person can be a Republican in 2009. Yes, I'm a Republican, and even after eight years of George Bush, I'm still proud of my party.

It's so easy for people to forget the roots of the Republican Party. The Republicans were once the holders of the moral high ground, the carriers of the torch of freedom and equality.

It was the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, which, as former slave and the first African-American to serve in Congress from South Carolina, Robert Smalls, said, "unshackled the necks of four million human beings."

It was the Republican party that worked to pass the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing equal protection under the laws, and the 15th Amendment, secure voting rights for African-Americans.

It was the Republican party that took the lead in working for women's suffrage. The first woman elected to Congress was a Republican, Jeanette Rankin from Montana in 1917. The Republican Party was first to put equal rights for women in their party's platform.

It was the Republican party that elected Teddy Roosevelt, a progressive, conservationist who called for protection of our natural resources. He fought against corrupt corporations and for a "square deal" for both the average citizen and business. He was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

That is a proud tradition.

Then came the Depression and FDR and suddenly the Republican party was the party of the mean, out-of-touch, anti-poor, fat cats who would kick widows and orphans out onto the street.

Why does no one mention George Wallace -- the pro-segregationist governor of Alabama -- was a Democrat?

Or the fact that Robert Byrd -- a former KKK member who filibustered to try and stop passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- is a Democrat?

The Republicans are the pro-war party, or so they say. Oh, really? Who was it who embroiled us in the Vietnam war, escalating our troops, and causing untold casualties of bodies and minds? Lyndon Johnson -- a Democrat. Who ended the war? That's right, a Republican. Who went to China and the former Soviet Union to build better relations and promote peace? Hint: not the Democrats.

What are the core Republican values? Smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal accountability, strong national defense, freedom and equality. When did these become anathema?

What has caused the Republican Party to suffer, I believe, is their movement away from these value. George Bush greatly expanded the size and involvement of the federal government, and did not promote fiscal responsibility. The Party's obsession with interfering with women's reproductive rights is unfortunate and antithetical to what the party stands for which is, or should be, freedom of choice and freedom from excessive governmental intrusion into our lives.

The Republican core values are ones I am proud to hold and hope can once again come to national power and prominence. I hope for a resurgence of the Reagan Revolution, when government wasn't the enemy but neither was it the wet nurse to keep the poor needy and the middle class from becoming too successful.

The Republican Party doesn't hate the poor, but it does not believe that the answer to poverty is handouts. Sorry for the digression, but I was watching a show where they were talking with teen mothers and this girl mentioned that with welfare and whatever other money she was getting, "they" (meaning the government) were making it too easy for her. She said because of that, there was no motivation for her to get a job. Bingo! Isn't that what the Republicans have been saying since FDR, that the welfare state is a prison, a form of slavery. My cynical side thinks the Democrats perpetuate the welfare state to keep their voting base.

The Democratic Party needs to be needed. It needs poor, desperate people that it can promise the moon to and ask for nothing in return. That is their core group of voters, the voting bloc who keeps them in office. Add to that those who think of themselves a caring and compassionate and vote not in their own best interest but to feel good about themselves, you have the current Democrat majority.

So, put away your shock, horror, and pity -- yes, I'm a Republican. And perhaps if you thought about it rationally, you might be one too.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reminder of the origins of the party. It's easy to feel distanced and disassociated in the environment created in the last several years. It doesn't help when Democrats gleefully poke you about Bush as an example of all the reasons being a member of the Republican party is not only stupid, but evil. Perhaps I'll print little pamphlets of this article to carry around with me to hand out to those who feel infected by the presence of a Conservative in their midst.