Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Losing Their Way

Its got to be tough being a mainstream, reasonable, rational Republican these days.

The party which embraced fiscal restraint is now spending like a drunken sailor, charging it to our kids' and grandkids' (and so on) credit cards. And by selling this historic debt to foreign governments, some of whom are a looming threat, they're compromising national security to a far greater degree than a group of al-Qaida operatives. Even worse, this deficit spending is not being used for investments in our future, such as infrastructure improvements, education, or health care. It's instead being pissed away to bloated defense contractors and other DOD waste that is well beyond most citizens' imagination. We spend more in sheer dollars for "defense" than the rest of the world combined, and it's increasing every year. This is on the back of ever shrinking expenditures on education and social safety net programs such as Medicare.

The party that self-identifies with morals, principles and values is now mired in scandal, hypocrisy, corruption and a cynical regard for the law. And since we have the fox guarding the henhouse, there's not likely to be any serious oversight in the near future.

The party which used to be for smaller government, state's rights and a reduction of federal intrusion into individuals' lives has now built the largest government infrastructure in the nation's history (per capita spending). It is in the process of building huge bureaucratic organizations spying on ordinary citizens to an extent that even George Orwell could not have imagined, away from the prying eyes of a bipartisan congress and pesky federal judges ensuring virtually no meaningful oversight. They govern with a fascist flair, creating knee-jerk policies which will do little to stop well funded al-Qaida operatives, but will continue to shrivel the rights of law-abiding Americans. State's rights? Can you say Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage?

The party of bold, forward thinking ideas has now degenerated into a three-word culture, winning elections solely by sliming their opponent with misleading information and outright lies. "Stay the course", "cut and run", "tax and spend", "war on terror", "September the 11th" and many other phrases that play well on Fox "News" do not describe sound, intelligent public policy.

Lastly, the party which claims to be the gatekeepers for our security has accomplished just the opposite due to the unprovoked invasion and occupation of a sovereign Arab country and our "my way or the highway" attitude toward the rest of the world on this and other issues, according to many ex-generals and other non-partisan security experts. And just as important as what they are doing is what they are not doing, the behind the scenes blocking & tackling like tightening cargo port security.

To the group I identify in the opening? It's no longer enough to say "this is not my Republican party", hold your nose and pull the "R" lever hoping you might actually get to pay a couple of bucks less tax someday or because you believe that bigger international problems just require bigger bombs (that's the naive notion, not the other way around). This is not just a couple of bad apples in the West Wing, this is Senate leadership, this is House leadership and it is increasingly State leadership. This is your party in the 21st century, denial is futile.

This is not the party of Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, or even George the first for that matter. And it's not going away soon. This is your party, that's the name on the door, and you're enabling it to thrive and grow. Before you vote this fall, I'd ask you to read two of the most poignant and learned speeches of the 20th century and decide if the current bunch really represents you: Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1953 "Chance for Peace" speech and his 1960 "Military Industrial Complex" speech. He was a real Republican, and a true American.

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