Tuesday :: Jul 5, 2005

Looking For A Way Out?

by pessimist

Let's say that you are unhappy with the platform and policies of the Republican Party, and that being a Republican is no longer suitable to your philosophy.

There is good news for you - you aren't alone.

"After 25 years, I am no longer a Republican." -James Chaney
Russell Sadler
July 3, 2005

It is probably one of the bigger unreported stories of the year. It is the steady “drip, drip, drip” of defections of traditional Republicans from their party. The word is out and is getting around. Oregon’s traditional Republicans are restless with the company their party is keeping.

The news of these Republican defections is being reported largely in local newspapers and circulated in the “blogosphere” -- that growing collection of websites that recirculates newspaper stories to a small, but growing national audience.

Last week, the Eugene Register-Guard published a column by James Chaney, a Eugene attorney and Republican stalwart, who declared, “As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican.” Registration figures suggest Chaney is not the only Republican who has reached this conclusion, but Chaney is notable for the way he said it. The man is a wordsmith.

The proper response to James Chaney’s lament is, “What are you Oregon Republicans going to do about it?”

The next response is “Where are Oregon’s Democrats?”

Oregon’s Democrats are moribund. Like their national counterparts, they betrayed the industrial manufacturing workers in the name of “free trade” and lost the core of their political base.

Many Oregon Republicans share James Chaney’s sense of betrayal. Many Oregon Democrats feel unrepresented and betrayed. Many Independents feel unrepresented and bewildered.

James Chaney’s complaint is more evidence of the discontent brewing below the surface of Oregon’s civic life. Solutions may come, but only of Oregonians return to their roots and reclaim their maverick, independent political life and find their own ways of solving Oregon’s problems. I suspect such people will find the “blogosphere” as their way of communicating. That’s how James Chaney’s manifesto is being circulated -- after it was published in a newspaper.

More from Mr. Chaney directly.

As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican
27 June 2005
James Chaney is a Eugene attorney who has been in private practice for more than 20 years, and who has been a registered Republican since 1980.

As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican. I take this step with deep regret, and with a deep sense of betrayal. My problem is this: I believe in principles and ideals which my party has systematically discarded in the last 10 years.

My party has repeatedly ignored, discarded and even invented science to suit its needs, most spectacularly as to global warming. We have an opportunity and the responsibility to lead the world on this issue, but instead we’ve chosen greed, shortsightedness and deliberate ignorance.

We have mortgaged the country’s fiscal future in a way that no Democratic Congress or administration ever did, and to justify the tax cuts that brought us here, we’ve simply changed the rules. I matured as a Republican believing that uncontrolled deficit spending is harmful and irresponsible; I still do. But the party has yet to explain to me why it’s a good thing now, other than to say "... because we say so."

Our greatest failure, though, has been in our role as superpower. This world needs justice, democracy and compassion, and as the keystone of those things, it needs one thing above all else: truth.

Republican decisions made in 2002 and 2003 have killed almost 2,000 of the most capable patriots our country has to offer - volunteers, every one. Support for those decisions was gathered through what appeared at the time to be spin and marketing, but which now turns out to have been deliberate planning and falsehood.

I could go on and on - about how we have compromised our international integrity by sanctioning torture, about how we are systematically dismantling the civil liberties that it took us two centuries to define and preserve, and about how we have substituted bullying, brinksmanship and "staying on message" for real political discourse - but those three issues are enough.

We’re poisoning our planet through gluttony and ignorance.

We’re teetering on the brink of self-inflicted insolvency.

We’re selfishly and needlessly sacrificing the best of a generation.

And we’re lying about it.

While it has compiled this record of failure and deception, the party which I’m leaving today has spent its time, energy and political capital trying to save Terri Schiavo, battling the threat of single-sex unions, fighting medical marijuana and physician-assisted suicide, manufacturing political crises over presidential nominees, and selling privatized Social Security to an America that isn’t buying. We fiddle while Rome burns.

Enough is enough. I quit.

Mr. Chaney joins a growing list of disenchanted former Republicans who have voted with their feet and left for other political shores rather than remain moribund with a party that no longer shares their values:

Catania Quits GOP Over Anti-Gay Amendment
by Paul Johnson
365Gay.com Newscenter
Washington Bureau Chief
September 29, 2004

Washington, D.C. Councilman David Catania, once the GOP's top fundraiser in the District, officially quit the Republican party Wednesday over its continuing attacks on gays. "Today marks the end of my journey as a Republican," Catania said in a statement. He is now registered as an independent.

"For some time, the leadership of the Republican Party has been dominated - and I believe very adversely - by a single, narrow group of individuals, who show no interest or concern for issues that confront a diverse nation," Catania said in his statement.

"The time has long since past for me to stop believing that by working within the Party, I can be an agent of change. Empty words and rhetoric are all that are left of the once proud Republican Party and I am no longer willing to associate myself with it. I shall, therefore, continue my public service as an Independent."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Catania said he did not join the Democratic Party because "I felt like I've been stung by one party. I'm not eager to join another. But mostly, being an independent just suits me."

One observer notes that no good deed goes unpunished in the Republican Party:

David Catania, Former Republican
Posted by Dennis
September 29, 2004

It looks like David Catania, an openly gay DC Councilman, has formally left the Republican Party and is now a registered independent. Catania could have represented the future of the GOP: young, hip and energetic. Instead, the party is becoming a place that looks backward instead of foward; becoming more hostile towards anyone who appears different.

Catania did much to build up the GOP in DC as well as the Log Cabin Chapter. He was also a top money-raiser for Bush. His thanks was the Federal Marriage Amendment which the President supported and being booted off the DC delagation to the Republican National Convention because of his opposition and his waning support for Bush.

While homosexuality is generally considered a liberal issue, this next resignation accuses the GOP of being - GASP! - too liberal!

An Open Letter of Resignation To The Republican Party
By Dave Gibson (05/30/05)

If Reagan was alive today, he would be ashamed of his party. I have watched as your party has moved farther and farther away from true conservative values. I will hold on to my money, my time, and my vote until either a viable third party which represents my conservative beliefs emerges or the Republican Party purges itself of the RINOs and liberal appeasers. As of now...I am no longer a Republican.

This next resignation complains of a lack of faith in the party:

Church leaving Republican Party
June 9, 2005

Roanoke County [VA] Supervisor Joe "Butch" Church is leaving the Republican Party. He says he decided Thursday morning to become an Independent. He says, for the last couple years, he has felt a lack of support from the Republican Party. He adds he doesn't trust the current leadership.

This next resignation is a bit more extreme in character:

Republican Candidate Calls Bush Administration “Nazis”

A candidate for North Carolina Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court has announced on her campaign's blog that she is leaving the Republican Party and denounced the Bush administration's policy on troop withdrawal from Iraq. Rachel Lea Hunter, a Republican and a candidate for Chief Justice, likens Bush’s administration to the “Nazis” and says that all who disagree with the administration are being branded as “traitors”.

The signs of the previous resignations from the Republican Party aren't exactly news to some. The signs have been evident for a while now, as the dateline of this next post indicates:

"REVOLT ON THE RIGHT: Why the Republican Party is losing conservative voters."
July 14, 2004

It's one of the most under-reported but pivotal stories of this election season: Untold numbers of American Christians, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, constitutionalists and others "on the right" are torn over how to vote in this November's election. Some are so turned off by both major-party presidential candidates they are threatening to stay home on Election Day.

Others are abandoning, or considering abandoning, their traditional political home, the Republican Party, in favor of a third party. They regard the two major political camps as so similar – and unacceptable – that only a third-party choice seems worthwhile. After all, they say, "Voting for the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."

Growing numbers of conscience-driven, traditionally minded Americans are conflicted over this choice. They're fearful that the Republican Party in its current state is incapable of restoring America to its long-abandoned constitutional framework ...

Whistleblower unabashedly examines what's wrong with the Republican Party, showing how all too often traditional Republican principles of constitutionally limited government and individual responsibility have been sacrificed for the sake of attaining and maintaining power.

Then comes a close and in-depth look at the "third-party" presidential candidates – particularly for the Constitution and Libertarian parties...

So what is it about the Constitution Party that attracted the attention of the Christian-oriented Whistleblower?

Those Who Stand and Wait
by James N. Clymer
National Chairman

I frequently get asked why we (i.e. Constitution Party members) are always dumping on the Republicans and why we don’t attack the Democrats with the same intensity that we employ against the Republicans. That question can be answered in several ways.

First, the light of truth shines on whatever cockroaches are running. Our job is to shine that light and it will expose whoever doesn’t like the scrutiny. Is it our fault that it is often the Republicans whose hypocrisy is exposed when we measure them by the Constitutional standard?

Secondly, the Republicans are more likely targets of our criticisms because they are more likely to claim to hold to the principles that we cherish but their actions belie them. Consequently, those of the masses who recognize the Constitution Party as the “defender of the faith” may also say, “but don’t the Republicans also believe that?” hearing only the rhetoric of the Republicans and lacking the perception to see the chasm between pontifications and policy. Thus, we seem to be attacking the Republicans when we are only ripping off their facade.

Perhaps thirdly (I say perhaps because this is probably just an overlap of the first two), the Republicans just give us so many opportunities!

Exhibit A is the fiasco that has become Senate confirmation process for federal judges, or rather the appalling lack of any effective process. Can anyone seriously suggest that the Republican Party has any real commitment to reforming the federal judiciary, in this case through the confirmation of judges who understand their Constitutional obligation to interpret the law, not legislate it? Remember how it was because of the judicial appointments that we were all supposed to follow the lemmings into the Bush Sea? No matter how badly Bush and the Republicans behaved during the first four years, we needed them back with a stronger majority to re-shape the judiciary. Of course, as Chuck Baldwin in a recent column pointed out, Constitutionalists should have no great hopes that the great majority of Bush’s appointments will honor their oath of office if confirmed. It is one more example of how “conservatives” thought they won an election but the anti-constitutionalists are winning the public policy and practice war in spades.

Recognize that the failed policies of both Democrat and Republican administrations have desecrated our Constitution and destroyed our freedom. Those who stand and wait will be buried in the avalanche of continued judicial destruction of the U.S. and most state Constitutions and the crumbling of the foundations upon which this nation was built.

The Constitution Party platform.

As for the Libertarians cited by Whistleblower, this poster reports that they are having some success in reaching former Republicans:

Republican Party is starting to split

I think the Republican Party is starting to split. Part of the reason for Bush’s success is the unity of the party, but that is going to change... You have had two main groups in the party: those for less government, accountability for government spending, and state rights. The other side is the religious right that cares of moral issues, above all. They have been able to work well together, but there appears to be a rift starting to happen. Look at the Shivo case for an example. The religious right wants the government to step in, while the other side of the party does not. The religious right wants the government to step in on every state right issue. (Gay Marriage, Medical Marijuana, and Prayer in School.) The other side does not and is getting vociferous about it too.

As a republican from that other side I have felt that my views have been totally ignored by the Bush administration and I know plenty of other republicans that feel the same way. I feel like the religious right has totally hijacked the party and Bush is way to liberal(BIG GOVERMENT AND ALL). Many people in my area that have been a Republican for years are switching to Libertarian. I mean a lot.

This has to be good news for the Libertarians, as they recently went into Republican territory to reach out to disaffected conservatives:

LP reaches out to conservatives at CPAC event in Washington
by J. Daniel Cloud
Editor, LP News
Mar 22, 2005

The Libertarian Party was a co-sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Feb. 17-19 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C. -- using the opportunity to reach out to other organizations, to get ideas for outreach and to tell fiscal conservatives that there is an alternative to the Republican Party.

Said LP Executive Director Joe Seehusen, "By taking part in this CPAC conference, we hope to show that Libertarians are the true fiscal conservatives -- much more so than the Republicans are." Seehusen spent about 20 minutes on the air with Martha Zoller, a talk show host with Gainesville, Ga.-based radio station WDUN, telling an estimated 350,000 listeners "that George Bush is a socialist, and the Democrat and Republican parties are two rival socialist factions, vying for your money and freedom."

Michael McKay, an LP member and donor from Fairfield, Iowa, attended several events with Seehusen. He noted that "as the conference went on, more and more people kept coming up to us, saying they're leaning toward libertarian principles."

Development Coordinator Jessica Neno Wilson said she spoke with many young people who "call themselves conservative, but are learning that they are really libertarian."

"Many people said 'I'm with the Libertarians on everything but the immigration issue,'" she said -- to which she responded, "Wouldn't it be better to be with a political party whose platform you agree with on 80 percent of the issues, rather than with a party with whom you disagree on so many other issues?"

Communications Director George Getz also had an opportunity to discuss the LP's stance on the immigration issue. "Libertarians support the right to work, we're pro-family, and we're against a national ID card. On those issues, we can appeal to the true conservatives, who have been abandoned by the big-government neo-conservatives."

"I think we learned a great deal about how the LP can more effectively reach out to conservatives," Seehusen said.

The Libertarian party platform.

At least one elected official has decided to heed that message:

Kansas county attorney switches affiliation from Republican to Libertarian

After being elected twice as a Republican to the position of county attorney in Anderson County, Kan., Fred Campbell decided following the Nov. 2 elections to drop his Republican Party affiliation in favor of the Libertarian Party, saying the GOP has abandoned the idea of minimal government.

He has been a Republican for years, primarily because he's "always been in favor of less government rather than more," he said. "I've always thought that the Republican Party was the major party that went along with that philosophy," Campbell explained. "Government is way too big, and too involved in every facet of our lives. After the election, I thought, 'Why do I maintain support for this Republican Party that is not doing anything to change the way things are?' So I decided to change my affiliation to something that more accurately represents what I believe.

"I ran unopposed in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, as a Republican. Ever since I've been in this position, I've told people that if I am ever opposed in an election, I will lose -- because I don't tell people what they want to hear. I'm not a good politician; I'm actually ashamed to call myself a politician. I'm just here to do what I think is right for the community and what is right for the job.

"The interesting thing about this last election was that, although we are a Republican majority county, almost all Republicans that ran for local office lost to Democrats. In all national and state elections, the county voted Republican, but in local elections, the voters went for the Democrats. I think there's a great deal of frustration with the Republican Party here, and I find that very interesting."

With that in mind, Campbell decided to follow his personal ideals -- which led him to the Libertarian Party.

"A year or two ago, I read the entire writings of Lincoln, seven or eight volumes of his works. And I decided (while reading what he wrote during the founding of the Republican Party) that in this day and age, Lincoln would be a Libertarian. From what he wrote about the origins of the Republican Party, it sounds much more like he was describing the Libertarian Party than the Republican Party we have now.

So what does it take for anyone to change their political affiliation?

How To Quit the Republican Party

For voters and politicians alike, party "membership" is a surprisingly fuzzy concept in the U.S. political system. Basically, you are what you say you are. The only purpose of the party designation on voter registration forms is to determine which party's primary you vote in. Half the states don't even ask for a party affiliation when you register and allow you to choose when you go to vote. And there is technically nothing to prevent someone registered, say, as a Republican, from running as an independent--or even as a Democrat.

Considering some of the things going on right now, a change in party registration might be in order for many of these folks:

Republicans in Salisbury Talk Candidates, Sort Of

A deep divide among Republican leaders was on full display Tuesday at a Republican Town Committee meeting called to endorse candidates for town offices in this year's election. It was clear from the outset that the meeting would be controversial.

A few members of the committee had expressed doubt in past months about the candidacy of Mr. Oliver, now a selectman, for first selectman, and the vote on the party's endorsement of him was to show for the first time the actual extent of his support within the committee.

Mr. Oliver has been the subject of two minor imbroglios recently, and his opponents on the committee have cited them as reasons he shouldn't receive the party's endorsement. He has been criticized for his involvement in the town's proposed purchase of the Rudd property, a piece of land along Lake Wononscopomuc, because it is across the road from a house Mr. Oliver recently bought. He also came under fire last summer for saying that he wasn't a "Bush Republican."

"Controversy is obviously good for attendance," Kate Walsh, the committee's chair, told the 20 or so committee members at the meeting. "I'm glad to see you all here tonight." Ms. Walsh opened the meeting by outlining rules drafted by an executive committee to govern its format. First, she said, a candidate could ask for a five-minute nominating speech, and then give a 10-minute speech of his own in support of his endorsement. After that, she said, there would be a 10-minute question-and-answer period with the candidates.

Mr. Oliver objected to the five-minute nominating speech, saying he wasn't notified before the meeting that he would be asked to find someone to speak for him. "To blithely adopt a format without ensuring that in fact the candidate was notified that they had the opportunity to ask someone to give a nominating speech ... is unfair and unreasonable," Mr. Oliver said.After a round of arguing, the committee took a vote on whether to proceed with optional nominating speeches. Ten were in favor and nine were against, so the speeches proceeded.

Mr. Oliver spoke first, opting to forego a nominating speech. In a short speech he said his knowledge of the town was extensive and his "vision for the town is local." He said people in town "need to be friendly with those who disagree with us" and "we need to have a frank discussion and dialogue about where the town is, where it has been and where it is going. I believe I have done an incredible job as a selectman, and I believe I would do an incredible job as first selectman," he concluded.

Roger Rawlings, a real estate appraiser who chairs the Salisbury Central School Board of Education and coaches the Hotchkiss School sailing team, was next to speak.

"Reading about your committee in the local papers and watching you on TV has been both enlightening and disturbing," he began. "It has been enlightening as the divisions within your own committee mirror the divisions within the national Republican Party. These divisions are not healthy on the national level but they are quite inappropriate on a local level."

He said he was disturbed by being portrayed "by a small number of you" as unworthy of the selectman's job because he was not a member of the committee. The divisiveness distracted the party from the focus on volunteerism and responsible administration of local government that should be its raison d'être, he said. It was so disturbing, he concluded, that he did not want to participate.

"I decided to join the campaign for the ... board because my knowledge of the town, my professional background and my current leadership positions would make me a valued member of the board," he said. "But I have found I do not have the stomach for it and it is only June. The partisan bickering among my own party holds no appeal for me. The 'us versus us' tenor of the campaign is not healthy for this party, this town or me. I will not participate in it." With that, Mr. Rawlings walked out of the room to a round of applause.

"That is a shame," one man said as Mr. Rawlings left.

Principled moderation seems to be a rare thing these days, which is what makes this article all the more special:

Maine's Moderates
June 30, 2005

From her first trip to Washington, more than three decades ago, one memory stands out. For nearly two hours, Susan Collins, a senior at Caribou High School, sat across from Margaret Chase Smith in the senator's Capitol office and talked about national defense, full employment and other weighty issues of the day. Smith was a lioness of the Senate - a Republican woman from Maine who was willing to break with her party. All these years later, Susan Collins is just that. And so is Olympia Snowe.

Snowe and Collins, after ascending to the Senate in the mid 1990s, are influential centrists in an increasingly polarized body. Like Smith, who served 24 years in the Senate, they are moderate Republican women with an independent streak who are leaving their mark on an institution in which fewer than 35 women have ever served.

They have both, at times, been marginalized by their own conservative party because of their middle-of-the-road stance. Their departure from GOP orthodoxy on economic, environmental and most of all social issues has put them in the crosshairs of conservatives who deride them as RINOs - Republicans in name only. "My vision of what the Republican party should stand for is not what Susan and Olympia feel it should stand for," said Scott Fish, an activist and founder of www.asmainegoes.com, a statewide clearinghouse for conservatives.

But in Maine, they like what Snowe and Collins stand for. Once rock-ribbed Republican, this is now a state where independents rule. Unenrolled voters outnumber registered Democrats, who in turn outnumber Republicans. And where political independence is prized - independents were elected governor in 1974, 1994 and 1998 - Snowe and Collins appear solidly entrenched. An independent statewide poll last month showed Snowe and Collins with approval ratings of 65 percent and 58 percent, respectively, compared with 31 percent for President Bush and 29 percent for Democratic Gov. John Baldacci.

These senators have a ready constituency to lead out of the Republican Party should they decide to leave:

The End of Women's Rights?
July 1, 2005 Press Release

Republicans For Choice, PAC today issued a statement thanking Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for protecting women's rights with her leadership and vote to protect Roe v. Wade on not one but two occasions, Webster 1989 and Casey 1992. To paraphrase what Justice O'Connor wrote in the Casey decision, she found that in order for women to participate equally in today's society, their right to choose must be protected.

But the real question is will Bush's nominee have the same respect for women's rights?

“If Bush nominates somebody anti-choice to replace this stalwart of individual freedom, he's going to have a real revolution on his hands” said Ben Wallner, Director of Administration.

“Any hope George Bush has of a positive legacy would be wiped out if he nominates the wrong person,” said Ann Stone, National Chairman of Republicans For Choice. “The shock of [O'Connor's] decision to step down is just now setting in and what this will mean not only for her replacement, but that it may also make the way easier for Associate Justice Scalia to be named Chief Justice,”

“The President should remember what happened to his father in reaction to the Webster Decision in 1989, which caused a tidal wave of pro-choice backlash against Republicans in each of the 1989, 1990 and 1992 elections” said Stone. “Women and moderates ran away from the party in droves.”

Added Stone, “We will be watching and so will our members.”

Republicans for Choice, PAC is a national organization of Republican Party legislators, activists and voters with over 125,000 members. Its goals are to remove the current anti-choice plank from the national platform and support republican pro-choice candidates.

Republicans for Choice, PAC would like to thank the eight Republican members of the US Senate who chose to buck the President and vote their conscience. Their vote to allow doctors overseas who receive UNFPA Funds to decide whether to discuss the sensitive issue of abortion with their patients took real courage. These courageous men and women deserve our Thanks!

Those Senator's are:
(Click on the name to send a special thank you email to the Senators)

Senator Susan Collins of Maine
Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania
Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska**
Senator John Warner of Virginia**
Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon**

**We especially would like to highlight these members who do not always vote with our pro-choice members...they deserve a special thanks for standing with us).

You must look past the Party Label if you care about electing pro-choice officials!

Looking for the party label is a good way to miss the importance of their positions. This can only lead to frustration, as these Nevadans express:

Nevada Conservatives Frustrated with Republican “Leadership”

Based on concerns over budget deficits and unrestrained illegal immigration, increasingly more and more conservatives are leaving the Republicans for ideological reasons and out of frustration at ineffectual leadership. The Nevada Independent Conservative Political Action Committee (NICPAC), aggressive for change, exists to give a voice to independent conservatives who feel they have been shut out of the Republican Party.

The Republican Party is starting to realize that they aren’t the only game in town. Increasingly more and more conservatives are leaving the Republicans for ideological reasons and out of frustration at ineffectual leadership. It used to be the case that any conservative living in Northern Nevada would be hard pressed to find a way to be active in politics. That used to be the case, but now an alternative exists to the Republican Party’s domination.

What happened to the Republican Party? Why is government spending running out of control? Why is illegal immigration not being adequately addressed? Why isn’t more being accomplished? Whereas both power and complacency from knowing that Nevada is a conservative state has made the Republicans lethargic, NICPAC is hungry and aggressive for change.

Being hungry and aggressive isn't such a bad thing when grievances need airing:

Fitch runs against GOP 'coronations'
Jun 9, 2005

Don't blink. You might miss the other fight for a spot on this year's Virginia Republican ticket: the nomination for governor. While former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore is expected to win easily, his little-known, poorly financed opponent, Mayor George B. Fitch of Warrenton, has emerged as a symbol -- sort of -- of discontent within the GOP.

Kilgore ignores the silver-haired, China-born international business consultant, focusing instead on the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

Fitch, meanwhile, plods on, largely relying on press coverage to get out his message. He is generally running to Kilgore's right, pestering him on the sensitive issue of taxes.

Backed by some of the state's strongest tax foes, Fitch says Kilgore's pledge to put additional sales, income and fuel taxes to public votes suggests Kilgore is squishy on taxation; that he is leaving open the possibility of increases.

Fitch, in contrast, vows to resist higher taxes. Fitch says the state can generate new dollars for services through economies and disciplined spending -- the approach he has taken as mayor of Warrenton, a town of 7,000 at the southern edge of Fauquier County.

Asked about the appearance of disunity within the Republican Party, Fitch responds:

"I'm puzzled by it. Here we are the Republican Party; we like to promote . . . that we're a party of freedom, opportunity and debate, and that we want to enlarge our tent to grow our party. The Republican Party of Virginia [has] decided we got disunited during the intramural food fight over taxes . . . That gave our party a black eye. It's fairly easy to close ranks and promote that because Jerry has been running for four years. He's next in line. It's his turn. . . . It smacks of an entitlement program."

Can the party reunify?

"If they want to, yeah. We need to be unified. We have to avoid more black eyes. We need to widen our tent and tolerate diversity. I'm hearing from a lot of Republicans that I should step out of the race because I'm disuniting the party. We're a party that doesn't believe in coronations. But that's what some people in the party want to happen. I can understand that because they're concerned about Tim Kaine."

Why is Tim Kaine such a concern?

"The quality of life is deteriorating. Land use must be coordinated with a transportation plan. Tim Kaine is picking up on this.

Unfortunately for Fitch, he proceeds to contradict himself:

"We need to establish a statewide policy. Local government should have more authority on growth, education and transportation."

While this post isn't about George Fitch specifically, I have to comment on this for the benefit of those disaffected Republicans who may decide to run against an entrenched Republican someday. Fitch states that a statewide policy needs to be established yet it's the local government that should have the authority. This already implies that no one is really in control, or else sets two entities against each other, which wastes the public's time and capital in useless lawsuits to define who controls what. Such a situation plays against Fitch's main pitch:

"Fiscal discipline. Local governments have to show more fiscal discipline, and do as we did in Warrenton: cut those programs [that are beyond] the core responsibilities of government."

Could that sensibility - core responsibility of government - be applied to the position of Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his plans to rid Texas of sodomites?

Leader hopes for backlash against Perry
Governor’s suggestion that GLBT veterans leave the state should help mobilize voters, Bailey says

The fallout continues from Governor Rick Perry’s first public attack on the GLBT community, and at least one local political leader is urging voters to rise up and put him out of office in the 2006 election. “I think that it will mobilize the state’s gay and lesbian residents,” said Shannon Bailey, president of Texas Stonewall Democrats. “Most of what I’m hearing is that people are not going to take it.”

Perry lashed out at the state’s gay community on June 5 during an appearance in Fort Worth when he signed a resolution putting the anti-gay marriage amendment on the Nov. 8 statewide ballot. His signature was a symbolic gesture because it was not required to approve the Texas Legislature’s decision to put the measure before voters. During the appearance, Perry suggested that anyone who objected to a constitutional ban on gay marriages and civil unions should move to “a state that has more lenient views than Texas.”

There should be, oh, about 49 of those, I would think!

But I digress.

“I take offense to it because I am a Texan,” said Bailey, who took part in a protest outside the Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Worth where Perry signed the anti-gay marriage amendment resolution. Bailey said he is hoping that Perry has made gay Texans so mad that they will turn out in huge force with their friends to vote against the anti-gay marriage amendment on Nov. 8 and return the following year to kick Perry out of office. “It’s really like an 18-month campaign we’re waging,” Bailey said.

The gay Democrat noted that it was the first time that Perry had specifically taken aim at the gay community, and that it appeared to be a desperate attempt to attract support for a “damaged goods” administration that accomplished little.
“He’s pandering to the segment of the Republican Party in control in Texas right now,” Bailey said. “It was political posturing at its best.”

Burning The Log Cabin

Carla Halbrook, a national board member for Log Cabin Republicans who lives in Dallas, said the state’s gay Republicans and their friends in the party are outraged by Perry’s remarks. “We’re all disgusted,” Halbrook said. “Frankly, I was shocked. I think it was simply a matter of him playing to the far right because he was anticipating a primary race.”

Halbrook said that in the past Perry had not supported the gay community, but that he had never attacked it before.
“He hasn’t really said anything against the gay community in days past,” Halbrook said.

Halbrook said that Log Cabin Republicans would be taking a close look at state Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn who has announced plans to run against Perry in the Republican Primary. Halbrook said she is uncertain if Log Cabin Republicans would publicly attack Perry and his record, advocating that he be voted out and sent home to West Texas. “As far as a publicly stated goal, that’s not something I’ve every known us to do,” Halbrook said. “Not saying that it could never happen but usually we either keep our mouths shut or go for the positive.”

It isn't only Gay Republicans who are out on a limb:

Chris Shays fits in the other Republican Party
Hartford Courant
November 22, 2004

... a Republican Party that doesn't quite exist anymore. Two years ago, he should have chaired the House Government Reform Committee but was denied the chance. He remains head of a key national security subcommittee and vice chairman of the budget committee - but he may lose that in the new session because he's reluctant to agree to the party line.

Insider On The Outside

Chris Shays these days seems like a congressman without a political anchor, a politician without a party. Being an independent-minded moderate means a lonelier-than-ever life in Washington where collegiality matters. But there's also been a civility to Shays. He has stayed away from taking shots at Democrats, and for that matter menacing Republican skeptics, believing there is still honor in politics. He's no favorite of many Republicans either, a view he fed last week by publicly bucking powerful House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who holds life-or-death power over legislation and choice jobs.

He's done it his way forever, eschewing the go-along-to-get-along niceties and chest-thumping press conferences from the day he arrived in September 1987. As he prepared to get sworn in that day, he sat on his office couch gently, methodically telling reporters at length how devoted he was to balancing budgets. Shortly afterward, he took the outrageous step of complaining about committee assignments.

That candor and consistency - or what some see as bluntness, naivete and stubbornness - keep getting him in trouble, but also have defined him as principled. Shays' refusal to give up on campaign finance reform led to eventual passage of the landmark bill, though in the process he created a chasm with fierce foe DeLay and others that still has not healed. DeLay's staff did not respond to requests for comment, but have privately intimated such talk is akin to treason in an institution where the leaders can bury dissidents on boring committees and deny their districts money.

Shays has already paid the price, literally, when the GOP in 1998 took $10 million from a $25 million pot of transportation money headed for his district after he branded the bill "a blatant attempt to buy votes." When he spoke up further to oppose the action, they took away another $5 million.

In fact, last week Shays seemed to be digging his version of a political Grand Canyon when he spoke out against a behind-closed-doors vote to allow DeLay, or anyone indicted by a state grand jury, to keep a leadership post. Shays quoted the Bible to members - "they always like to quote Scripture," he explained - and then walked out to tell reporters how awful the vote was.

But here's his new dilemma: In the past, Shays could count on other moderates and like-minded Democrats to side with him and boost his effectiveness. Shays thinks that will happen, but the odds against it are lengthening. Moderates are a shrinking breed in the GOP, and because the party has its biggest House majority since 1947, they have less influence. Shays disputes that assertion, listing fellow Republicans ready to march with him on a variety of issues. He will try to find like-minded Republicans on trade and economic issues, which is not as difficult as building coalitions elsewhere.

More independent analysts disagreed. "Republicans don't count on the moderates. If they went away, the party probably wouldn't mind that much," said Stan Collender, managing director at Financial Dynamics, a Washington consulting firm.

Democrats he counted as friends turned on him during the campaign and are still snarling. At the same time, Democrats have made Shays a prime 2006 target. "Chris is vulnerable," said Rep. Robert T. Matsui, D-Calif., Democratic Congressional Campaign chairman. "People are going to watch his voting record." If it seems to be falling too much in line with the president, who lost Connecticut by more than 10 percentage points, Democrats will pounce. And if it drifts too far from the GOP, Shays will be painted as a toothless outcast.

"I agree with Joe [Lieberman] on too many issues," Shays said.

Shays is clearly hurt by the sudden chill from the Democratic side. While he never had much in common with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, their relations were cordial. At least that was true until she campaigned for his opponent in the election and last week when she told the national press corps he was a meek grandstander. "She said I was brain dead," Shays said, clearly sad about her attitude. Pelosi called Shays "a rubber-stamp-for-the-radical-right-wing, check-your-brain-at-the-door congressperson" and "an enabler for DeLay."

She laughed Friday when asked if such remarks had ruined her relationship with Shays and other centrists. "Working with Chris Shays," Pelosi said, "is not something I spend a lot of time thinking about." She called his claims of moderation a "masquerade," using the DeLay rules voice vote instead of a roll call to prove her point. "He grandstands outside by saying he doesn't approve of the rules change," Pelosi said. "He could have with one word called for a [roll call] vote ... but instead he chose to meekly voice his position instead of standing up to the task and asking for a vote."

"He's in an increasingly difficult position," said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.

Any thoughts of switching to the Democratic Party are now out: "I wouldn't want to be part of the party of Nancy Pelosi," he said.

So maybe the time has come for those principled individuals who aren't going to toe a party line to cut loose and establish the principle promoted by President George Washington in his Farewell Address, the avoidance of 'factions' which in anyone's definition would have to include political parties. Former Senator Gary Hart addresses this:

Are the Parties Over?

Because most of our founders did not trust the idea of political parties, they came into existence only reluctantly. Parties seemed too much like the dreaded "factions" that had arisen in Europe, what today we would call interest groups, concerned more with their own good than the common good. America's founders, steeped in the ancient Greek and Roman republican ideal, wanted their new fellow citizens to be concerned with the commonwealth. The more people fell into or formed narrow or special interest groups, the less they would be committed to the ideal of the new republic, that which was held in common by all and over which all were sovereign.

One of the highest compliments for a citizen of the founding era was to be called "disinterested." That did not mean uninterested. It meant not interested in one's own concerns at the expense of the commonwealth. The founders held the quaint notion that if we were all concerned, or interested, in what we held in common we would all benefit individually.

But, by the late 18th Century, parties arose, largely dividing between the Federalists led by Hamilton who saw the need for a strong central or national government, with a national bank and national army, and the Republicans led by Jefferson who suspected the power of the state and preferred local authority and local control. Well before the 20th Century the two major parties had come to exert hierarchical control over virtually all political processes, including the nomination of candidates for office, at the national and state levels. They were the conduits for campaign financing, access to the media, dissemination of political information, the structuring of ideas and policies, and the exercise of political discipline.

Except for the ideologically devout, voters likewise are shaking loose the bonds of party loyalty and more and more joining the third party, the independents, either figuratively or literally. American political parties, as we have known them for two centuries, are disintegrating.

As voters less and less need the party to tell them what to think and whom to vote for, the parties more and more retreat to their hardcore ideological bases, thus further alienating mainstream voters who are less doctrinaire partisans and more eclectic individuals.

Finally, the information revolution disintegrates old media and political structures. If a candidate is clever enough and has something to say, he or she can get direct access to the media. As political entrepreneurs, most candidates now raise their own financing and depend on money from the parties less and less. Candidates form their own policy groups or court the flourishing idea forums that span the political spectrum. Self-confident and ambitious candidates put themselves forward for any office they desire, up to and including the presidency, without seeking the approval of party officials.

In an interesting development, the State of Indiana is decresing the hold that the two major parties have on electoral politcs:

The party’s over

Effective [7/1/5], the decades-old practice of funneling $30 in vanity plate fees to the Democratic and Republican organizations comes to an end. The practice began in 1977, when the General Assembly approved the personalized license plates and earmarked a portion of the fee as a “political contribution” to any political organization that garnered 5 percent of the vote in the previous general election. Both major parties feasted on the proceeds until 1990, when they decided that political backlash from the scandal surrounding license branch operations made it unwise to accept the money.

Follow The Money

But just a year later, with Democrats controlling the governor’s office and the Indiana House, Rex Early, then the GOP state chairman, went to court to regain the money for his financially devastated party. The Democrats again began accepting their cut of the profits.

Early told the Indianapolis Star that he believed the public didn’t care about the money going to the political parties. “It was clean,” he said. “Nobody was buying influence with (personalized license plate) money.”

Ignorance Of The Flaw Is No Excuse

There is an advantage to nurturing a strong two-party system, and Early is right that vanity plate-buyers had no objections.
Likely, they didn’t realize the fee was going to the political parties.

This ties into my previous post in which I state that taxpayers should know where their tax dollars are being allocated.

But I digress.

Gov. Mitch Daniels was right to call for an end to the antiquated practice, and the General Assembly was right to end it by a 47-1 vote in the Senate and a unanimous vote in the House. About $1.4 million is the amount the state will retain now that the parties are off the dole.

Controlling the capital necessary to campaign to keep thrid-party challengers out of the race is one thing, but to use it as blackmail is yet another:

Spell switches to Republican

State Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell surprised Democratic leaders Friday by switching his party affiliation. He said after years of people telling him he acted more like a Republican than a Democrat, he chose to make the switch.

Spell's conversion comes in the midst of a state and federal investigation into the failed Mississippi Beef Processors plant in Oakland that left taxpayers footing most of the $55 million the state invested. The state just paid off the $35 million, state-guaranteed loan used to build the plant with proceeds from a $100 million tax settlement with MCI. The plant closed Nov. 17, only three months after it opened, putting 400 people out of work.

"I smell some odor coming from Lester's meat processing plant and Haley Barbour's office," state Democratic Chairman Wayne Dowdy said Friday night after learning of Spell's party switch. "I wonder if Haley Barbour will continue to attack Lester now about his meat processing plant," Dowdy said. "We'll see."

Spell, chairman of the Land Water Timber Resource Board, wrote a letter in February defending the board's July 2001 decision to issue a $5 million grant to Mississippi Beef Processors President Richard N. Hall Jr., who later defaulted on a $35 million state-backed loan for the plant.

Dowdy said Spell's defection won't hurt the party. "I question Lester's sincerity," he said. "Someone who switches so casually after 9 1/2 years after seeking Democratic nominations and contributions has no real moral compass." But if that's Spell's decision then "good riddance."

"It's not a big loss," said Rep. Walter Robinson Jr., D-Bolton, chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus. "Everyone should have been more careful about the beef plant," Robinson said. "Leaving us and going to the Republicans won't solve his problems."

As this former Republican confirms:

Death of a Republican

Macbeth was one of Shakespeare's most tragic figures. Consumed by politics and the lust for power, Macbeth comes to despise himself, life, and the very power that he sought. The loss of meaning in his life could be traced to the moment politics invaded his existence. Politics killed Macbeth. In America, we are all modern-day Macbeths, struggling to emerge from the darkness which elections, political parties, and government have thrown over our souls. The only victory to be gained is a dark one -- the death of political concerns in each of us provides the only route to salvation.

Today I proclaim that the ranks of the Republican party have dropped by at least one.

Somehow, as disheartening as the government may be, it does not even approach the tragedy of the fall of the Republican Party. One expects politics to be an ugly, slow, dirty process that grinds along regardless of time period, political parties, and leaders. I expected more of the Republican party.

Actions speak louder than words -- and the old elephant's main actions have left a pile of manure through which its followers must wade. No new taxes. A war on drugs. Welfare reform. A New World Order. An era of cooperation. These were the words we heard, as we sloshed on through our party's fetid trail of lies. Telling the truth, aiding the nation, and renewing faith in the Grand Old Party certainly can't be included among recent Republican victories.

In their lust for power, Republicans forgot to believe in something. They forgot to believe in anything other than a rise to power. The Republican Party has lost its sense of right and wrong. No longer do Republicans value their principles; now trading beliefs for votes is acceptable. Not to me. Not anymore.

Thus, I submit my official resignation from the ranks of the Republican Party. I just don't fit in anymore. I don't belong with Republicans any longer. I don't belong with Democrats. I don't belong in government.

Of course, if you believe in nothing, or if you are scared to stand up for your beliefs, join the Republican Party -- it's your "choice." The Republican Party has become a travesty of the American Dream. It has sold out to become powerful.

The Republican Party has lost all sense of moral fiber. Washington has abandoned America. The GOP has abandoned its members. We must accept this fact and move on.

Quo Vadis?

So what is to become of the Republican Party? One web pundit ponders the question:

Republican Party: Where will it go?

As it stands now, the party is in splinters. The leaders are struggling to keep all those involved together with many groups pulling in opposite directions. Some have accused the current Washington leadership of losing the idea behind conservative, small government thought.

I was talking with a friend about the future of the party a few days ago. We discussed a possible party realignment similar to that that happened post-WWII. The difference would be, that this time a three or more party system would finally evolve.

The Republican party would split with the religious right and other extremist groups leaving the party to form their own party, and the moderate and progressive republicans combining with the conservative democrats to form a moderate party which is liberal on social issues and yet fiscally conservative (hey, a balanced federal budget would be a nice start).

For me, the religous right and other extreme groups within the party add little and restrict much of the potential changes the Republican party could be making. I fear that if some sort of realignment does not happen soon, the entire power base of the GOP will erode leading to a complete loss of power.

If all of the Republican leaders and voters can recall the true ideas that have historically made the conservative party strong and get back to the basics then there is a chance the party can be saved. However, I don't see this as a likely possibility or even the best one.

I would propse that the Republican leaders stop listening to the religous right who do little more than alienate many of the independent moderate voters of the United States. Maybe then, there will finally be a party worth supporting with my energy; a party that understands the needs of many of the American people and works towards meeting them; a party that in many ways is above the corrupt politics of interest groups and extremist organizations.

I know this last part is a very utopian view, but hey, one has to find some hope somewhere. The current leadership of Washington surely isn't providing it.

Some would agree with you, Chandler Koglmeier:

Eisenhower's 1956 Message Lost on Today's Misguided Republican Party
Published on Tuesday, August 3, 2004 by the Niagara Falls Reporter

The most intriguing and perhaps best speech I heard last week came from a Republican, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The joys of channel-surfing and C-Span brought me to Ike's acceptance speech when nominated for a second term at the 1956 Republican National Convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Eisenhower spoke eloquently about the future of his party in that year when the GOP was marking its 100th anniversary. Many sensible themes Eisenhower offered that night could provide the Democrats of today with messages appealing especially to independent voters and older Americans.

Dwight Eisenhower's view was that the Republican Party should be inclusive and inviting for all Americans. He said, "The Republican Party is the party of the future because it is the party that draws people together, not drives people apart."

Karl Rove, President Bush's political brain, and the right-wing religious wackos he uses as his surrogates for division would drive Eisenhower right out of their Republican Party.

Ike also said on that night in San Francisco, "Our party detests the technique of pitting group against group for cheap political advantage."

That strategy, sadly, has become the mantra of a Republican Party Ike certainly did not envision and would find repugnant. This politics of desperation is an attempt to divert the public's attention from the mess in Iraq, the sputtering economy and Bush's horrific record on job creation.

Dwight Eisenhower was everything George W. Bush is not. Ike was self-made, accomplished, worldly and thoughtful. He would find George W.'s impetuous, visceral, bullying approach to the world reckless and foolhardy. Bush's disdain for the United Nations, our NATO allies, and really any nation that took issue with his obsession with Iraq would leave Ike chilled.

In his acceptance speech at the 1956 Republican National Convention, Eisenhower spoke of the heart of collective security resting on the principle that strength is not military strength alone. He said, "It lies rather in the unity that comes of the voluntary association of nations which, however diverse, are developing their own capacities and asserting their own national destinies in a world of freedom and mutual respect." And with the experience of a man who had seen the horrors of war firsthand and knew the limitations of military actions, he added, "There can be no enduring peace for any nation while other nations suffer privation, oppression and a sense of injustice and despair."

And in words that would make George W. cringe, Eisenhower urged that the Republican Party of the future "must be completely dedicated to peace, as indeed must all Americans. For without peace there is no future."

Eisenhower, who classically reminded us of the dangers of the military-industrial complex as he left office, would find the Bush-Cheney melding of foreign policy and military action for the profit of their corporate clients appalling and dangerous. It would grieve him that the very unholy alliances he warned us of had literally taken control of the Republican Party.

As Bush and company look for more weapons systems and reasons to justify their use, Eisenhower provided us with a far more restrained, prudent and realistic vision of the use of armaments as instruments of America's dominant role in the world. He told the 1956 GOP Convention, "We have worked unceasingly for the promotion of effective steps in disarmament so that the labor of men could with confidence be devoted to their own improvement rather than wasted in the building of engines of destruction."

A line like that at George Bush's second nominating convention would get the speaker booed off the podium.

All Americans would do well to heed Eisenhower's vision and reflect again on the great sense he made nearly half a century ago. The youngest Americans who actually voted for Ike are now 70 and over, but that's one of the fastest-growing segments of our population. They and other Americans who find the sensible moderation of the great warrior who became president appealing can still find a political voice. Eisenhower protected our nation and kept us strong during some of the most difficult days of the Cold War, but he did that soberly and intelligently. The Republican Party under George W. Bush has ventured far away from what Eisenhower envisioned.

This National Review author indicates that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree:

Party without a cause - Republican Party
by Michael Fredenburg
Feb 17, 1992

The national Republican leadership prides itself on putting winning above 'ideology' - i.e., principle. As a result it supports candidates who are neither Republicans, nor winners. Rather, the threat to a Republican renaissance comes from within the party itself.

Most of those who respond to the appeals of the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the National Republican Congressional Committee would probably be shocked to learn that these committees have no obligation to channel their support to candidates who support the Republican platform. Indeed, the GOP national committees have regularly intervened in contested primaries, promoting candidates who reject major planks of the platform over those who wholeheartedly embrace them. Increasingly, conservative Republicans are seeing the national committees step in to override the clear wishes of the local leaders.

ALL THREE national Republican committees maintain that they merely support the candidates brought forward by the local parties, and for the most part this is true. But in the cases where there has been notable intervention, the pattern has been against the heirs of Ronald Reagan and in favor of those who oppose, sometimes loudly, major elements of the Republican platform. Increasingly the big tent is translating into a smaller and smaller party.

All the relative advantages Republicans enjoyed under Reagan are still there, largely because the Democrats are in even greater disarray.

One Republican might just disagree there, Slim!

Republicans for Bill Clinton

Being a Republican isn't just joining a party, it's a point of view. To me it's more important what a candidate does and what he stands for than what party label he runs under.

What is a Republican and what do we believe in? A Republican is supposed to be for fiscal responsibility, small government, keeping the government out of people's private business, traditional family values, and a sense of basic morality. The government and the Republican Party are here to serve the people, not the other way around. The Republican Party is here to serve us, not for us to serve them. We are not here to be loyal to the party, but for the party to be loyal to us. It's not just about talking the talk, but you have to walk the walk.

I am tired of the right wing extremists and the Moonies trying to redefine what a Republican is. Republicans are not moving away from the party. The party is moving away from Republicans. My Republican views haven't changed. I still support traditional Republican Values. But the Republican party is turning into a bunch of self serving slobs who only care about being elected and the power it brings.

The Republican Party needs to wake up to reality and realize that there are a lot of Americans like myself that base their decisions on what politicians do, and not what politicians say. I'm creating this page to put the Republican Party on notice that America comes first. We will no longer tolerate our party putting it's self interest ahead of the citizens of our country. We will no longer tolerate petty partisan political bickering. We are not stupid and we deeply resent what our party is doing and the direction the party is heading.

The Republican Party can't win an election on the issues. They can only win if they lie and cheat. The Republican Party has become a national embarrassment. Elections are the core of a democratic society. In fact the two elements that I consider the test of a true democratic society are free and honest elections, and a judicial system with high standards of integrity and the will to enforce its own rules.

Republicans can't seem to respect the will of the voters. The right wing thinks that it's OK to try to harrass the President and attack him personally through right wing publications like The Washington Times and to abuse the special prosecutor [law] and create a witch hunt. What ever happened to democracy in this country? When the Republican party has to stoo

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