Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Republican Party Left Me...

I didn’t leave the Democratic Party, the Party left me.
Ronald Reagan, 1962

This is what the greatest POTUS in the last 60 years said when he was asked why he switched political parties. IMO, Ronald Reagan's face should be on Mt. Rushmore. This was a man that brought the country together and won landslide elections. In 1980, he beat Carter 45 states to 5 states, and in 1984 he beat Mondale 49 states to 1 state.

I voted for this man twice.

I believed in his message and his policies, but I feel that we need to move beyond his policies to keep pace with the changing times and world we live in. The current Republican party is not the same party as Reagan, regardless of how often a candidate claims to be a Reagan Republican.

So, to paraphrase the Gipper... "I didnt leave the Republican Party, the party left me". I just cant buy into the current GOP platform and policies. In short, I have a hard time with the Republican brand. The GOP had control of Congress for 12 years and the White House for 8 years and they have not done a good job of running things.

There was a good op-ed in this past Sunday's Washington Post that really seemed to drive home my own thoughts about the GOP and the direction of the country.

At long last, the conservative juggernaut is cracking up. From the Reagan era until late 2005 or so, conservatives crushed progressives like me in debates as reliably as the Harlem Globetrotters owned the Washington Generals. The right would eloquently praise the virtues of free markets and the magic of the invisible hand. We would respond by stammering about the importance of regulation and a mixed economy, knowing even as the words came out that our audience was becoming bored.

Conservatives would get knowing laughs by mocking bureaucrats. We would drone on about how everyone can benefit from the experience and expertise of able civil servants. They promised to transform stodgy old Social Security into an exciting investment opportunity that would make everyone wealthy in retirement. We warned about the scheme's "transition costs" while swearing that the existing program would still be around for today's younger workers. They offered tax cuts. We talked amorphously about taxes as the price of a civilized society. After Sept. 11, 2001, they vowed to strike hard at terrorists anywhere and everywhere without worrying about the thumb-twiddlers at the United Nations. We stood up for the thumb-twiddlers.

But now, seemingly all of a sudden, conservatives are the ones who are tongue-tied, as demonstrated by Sen. John McCain's limping, message-free presidential campaign. McCain's ongoing difficulties in exciting voters aren't just a tactical problem; his woes stem largely from his long-standing adherence to a set of ideas that simply haven't worked in practice. The belief system and finely crafted policy pitches that enabled the right to dominate the war of ideas for the past 30 years have produced a relentless succession of governing failures, from Iraq to Katrina to the economy to the environment.


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