Don’t Call Me a Republican
I am not a Republican.
I believe in marriage between a man and a woman. I am a gun owner. I am a senior manager in the middle of corporate America. I detest the Occupy Wall Street movement. I believe unions stifle business growth and drive productivity out of the marketplace. My car is powered by a gas guzzling V-8 engine and I do not cringe every time I fill up the tank. I have read Atlas Shrugged. I liked it so much I read it again. I am a staunch and practicing Mormon. I believe in conservative fiscal policy and am very worried about the near $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities this country faces in the next 75 years. I am a big fan of Reagan (the real one). I don’t believe CEOs are paid too much money. I am pro-life.
I am still not a Republican.
I have been called many names by my Republican friends and twitter followers. Socialist. Communist. Liberal. Liar. Ideologue. Big government. I am none of these. The uses of such phrases do not make me upset because it helps identify a more disparaging element; the Republican Party has lost their identity and justify their positions with disingenuous arguments and logical fallacies. That’s not to say that Democrats are innocent in this regard; it’s just the tolerance for differentiated thinking is so far rooted out of mainstream GOP thinking. Republicans try to use the same type of litmus behavior to identify Democrats, which is challenging given the diversity of the party. Even worse, there are high levels of justification for twisting facts and leveraging blatant dishonesty, or unethical practices with the reason that the end justifies the means.
Let me provide an example. Currently there are several court cases being rammed through the justice branch of government involving ID cards to stop voter fraud. This sounds reasonable on the surface. However, when you dive into the drivers and sponsors of the legislation you realize the extensive partisan backing and maligning of facts. There have only been 2,068 reported cases in which 10 have been found guilty of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000. Yes, you read that correctly, 10. Yet the GOP has sponsored a dynamic effort to pass voter laws which by all accounts make it tougher for the poor, students, and minorities to vote; all key demographics of the Democratic Party. Faced with questions around the ethics of their actions a typical response includes, “well, these are only the cases we know of…Who knows how many there actually are.” Uh huh, Right.
Let me provide another example. I watched the vast majority of the Republican National Convention this past week. Although I fully intended to hear weak arguments and faulty logic (I expect the same thing next week at the DNC), I was leveled by the blatant disregard for statements that even remotely looked anything factual. It became so bad that even Fox News wrote an article calling Paul Ryan out for his deceptive spin. Mr. Ryan blamed President Obama’s policies for closing an auto factory that was actually closed under Bush. He blamed President Obama for not implementing the same Simpson-Bowles budget recommendations that he led the charge to kill. He called out President Obama for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that were also built into his budget. He also charged President Obama for our credit rating drop which was due to congressional Republicans using the debt limit as a bargaining chip.
This type of dishonest debate has emerged as the center piece of almost all of my interactions with the right. I have a right wing family member that rails on the parasitic nature of the poor, yet their life was extended through the saving grace of Medicare curing 10 years of unchecked cancer at a ridiculous cost to taxpayers. I know of several Republican Congressmen who blasted the pet projects of President Obama’s stimulus package, yet showed up at the ribbon cuttings to take full credit. Almost every Republican I have spoken with derides socialism yet supports the military, the biggest socialist program in the US. These same individuals also drive on public roads, send their children to public schools, visit national parks, and support the police and fire departments. The mind-numbing-repetitive-labeling of any opposing idea as liberal or socialist completely disregards the meanings of the word and enshrines the speaker in a cloud of ignorance.
Republicans attack welfare for the poor but support bailouts for the rich. They sit on the pedestal of pro-life which diminishes once the embryo takes their first breath. They hide behind a shield of fiscal conservatism but have no idea what is driving the federal budget. They also live in utopian world of problem solving. Yes I agree, cutting off welfare might entice the poor to work, but it will also drive up crime and promote Darwinism consequences. This type of theoretical thinking is why I do not support Ron Paul – I love his ideas – but his concepts are too drastic to be reasonable.
What annoys me most about the Republican rhetoric is the demonizing (not the opposition) of President Obama. The right’s frustration with President Obama has little to do with what he has not done, but more with what he has. In 2008 President Obama campaigned on single payer healthcare reform, student loan reform, housing reform, stimulus spending, and reduction in deficit (deficit is not the same as debt). He did not follow through on a secret agenda after election but passed the exact legislation campaigned on. Where President Obama fell short had more to his compromising spirit than his polarizing agenda. He passed healthcare reform, but instead of single payer, he contracted private insurance companies similar to Romneycare. He did not cut the deficit in half because he extended the Bush tax cuts, a broken campaign promise. Instead of trillion dollars of stimulus spending he scaled back the package to include $300 billion of tax cuts. Each of these changes favored the right, but you would never know by their posturing.
Now I am sure several Republicans will read my arguments and cry foul; that I am engaging in the exact same stereotyping I am calling out. Fair enough. However, the levels are not even in the same ballpark. The last two years of congressional leadership is an embarrassment to American politics. The House floor has voted 31 times to repeal Obamacare knowing the bill would never leave the chamber. The Senate has filibustered even the most contrite votes including lower court judge appointments. Yet this is an unethical strategic advantage for the Republicans. Republicans hide behind the smaller-government-works-better mantra driven by legislative inefficiencies that they create.
It’s not that I am fundamentally opposed to the ideas shared by Republicans; it’s more that I am opposed to the way they share. Even within party, dissension from core platforms brands the iconic label of RINO (Republican In Name Only) which is the scarlet “A” of the Republican party. Such weeding out of centrist ideas fundamentally shifts the political balance and swings the pendulum too far to the right. This type of political rhetoric will continue to cost the Republicans seats in Congress, much like the last election (NV and DE). Of course any opposition to Republican ideas always results in the same typical hyperbole – liberal, socialist, or even a liar — which I never take personally.
Just don’t call me a Republican.