I miss the Republican Party

by Doc Coleman on November 7, 2012 · 5 comments

in Rants

Normally, I’m a pretty apolitical person. I don’t usually go in for much political commentary, so you must realize that things have pretty much gone pretty far if I feel like there is a need to speak up. I’ll try to keep it short, but I understand if there are a lot of folks who just don’t want to hear it at this point. For that reason, I’m putting the rest of this post behind the cut.

I’ve always looked at politics as a dirty business. One that I didn’t really want to get myself involved in. Let’s face it, one of the things that politicians are there for is to do the things, make the decisions that need to be made, but that each of us individually don’t want to have to make. Things like raising taxes to provide services. Or cutting services to provide funds for something else. Sometimes these are things that we know need to be done. Sometimes these are things that we aren’t willing to admit to ourselves need to be done. And sometimes, our leaders get things wrong. They make a bad decision. And usually, that marks the end of a career. But some politicians try to convince everyone that their mistake is really a success. That their decision is right and everyone else is wrong, no matter what facts are brought to bear.

So what does this have to do with me missing the Republican Party?

When I was a kid, I swear that things were different. Maybe it’s just the mists of memory, but there was a different feeling to things back then. There was still acrimony, and scandals, and negative ads, but there was something different as well.

Respect.

No, our politicians weren’t perfect. They weren’t the statesmen of yesteryear who would speak out because they felt that every man and woman in the union needed to be informed on the issues. Some of them tried to pull some pretty scummy tricks, but through it all, there was always one constant. No matter how energetically they fought, how aggressively they opposed each other, they made a public show of respect for their opponent. When an election was decided, the losing party would congratulate the victor, and ask his supporters to accept and support the leadership of the victor. We might be divided for the election, but afterwards, we’d be united again.

When did we lose that?

Sadly, I know the answer. Newt Gingrich, when he first entered the house of representatives, resented the fact that the senior Republicans had all the power. He sought to pull a coup within his own party by bankrolling young Republicans in district where the Democrats were weak. These Republicans were recruited under very specific terms. Newt would bankroll him, and in return, they would owe their loyalty to Newt, instead of the Republican Party. And so, a new breed of Republicans sprang up. Republicans for which power and victory were the only values.

These people changed the nation.

They’re tearing it apart.

This new right has embraced a new religion: The one true way, the American way, is and can only be the Republican way. All who believe differently are idiots, misguided, or evil. Compromise was no longer an option.

And now, we have come to this. In the wake of President Obama’s re-election, conservatives are melting down all over the country. Some are claiming fraud, or that the voters were deceived. Others are bemoaning the result and saying that America is dead. The most extreme are calling for revolution, then hastily retracting their words.

There used to be Republicans who could take defeat or victory equally with grace and dignity. I miss them.

Now, I know that there are still Republicans who believe in their country and their party, and can still accept the outcome of the election and still be positive about the future. I know several of them. We may not agree on matters of policy, but we respect each others positions. We can agree to disagree and still be friends and colleagues.

I hope these Republicans can take back their party, and return the impression of statesmanship. I hope they can rest power away from those who want to cut the budgets for education, health care, and disaster recovery, because they think they are smarter than everyone else. Away from people who would cut support services, but take every dime of assistance they can get their hands on.

I want to see a Republican Party that commands respect again, not just because of the power they command, or because they loudly demand respect, but instead because their conduct leaves no option but to respect them. Maybe that Republican Party never existed, but I swear that at one time they did. I’d like to see them become that in the future.

Now, to be fair, I have to admit that the Democrats aren’t perfect. There have been times when they’ve been so incredibly slimy I wouldn’t touch ’em with a 41 foot pole. But they’ve also gotten better. Yes, they’re likely to get worse. But unless we’ve got a strong third party as a viable option, I’d like to see better from the Republicans.

There are a lot of different opinions about what is right for America.  Sometimes, what is right isn’t what is on one side or the other, but somewhere in the middle. Compromise is important. It’s how you show your opponent that you’re right by giving them something they believe is right. That needs to become part of the process again.

We need to demand more from our leaders, so that some day we can all be proud of them, no matter their party or policies.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ravven November 8, 2012 at 4:50 am

This is probably the best post about the election that I have read recently. I’m from the US, but I live in the UK with my British husband. I was trying to explain to him that the Republicans weren’t always the rabidly batshit party that they seem today. He’s a lot more conservative than I am, and to me the old Republicans felt more like the present UK conservatives. I wouldn’t necessarily vote their ticket, but I could respect them for having solid opinions on their side. What happened to the party that I could disagree with, but still respect?

What is collectively right for sometimes very different groups of people will always be in the middle somewhere. That’s just common sense. Give a little here, take a little there, and we all end up with something that most people can live with. That’s very plainly put because I’m not a very political person. I just think we should all work together. Fanaticism has no place in government in any civilised country.

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2 Doc Coleman November 9, 2012 at 8:26 am

I find it interesting that most governments around the planet have some kind of Centrist party, who are neither Left nor Right, but we don’t have anything like that in America.

I’ve also seen a few articles that indicate that in policy, Obama is pretty much equivalent of a Republican President of the 1970’s. The conclusion pretty much seems to be that the country hasn’t left the Right, the country has stayed in place and the Right has left the country.

Glad you liked my little essay.

Doc

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3 Maria November 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

You are astute, and right, and I miss the days when you could see character and differences in people and still elect them, when politicians didnmt have to be everything and squeak to get elected. I think back to Reagan, the first President I could clearly remember and whose letters I read later in life (all inspiring writers should read him as his delivery of a concept is amazing), and realize he could not have been elected now.

I wish there could be a place in the middle, a choice where saying you lean left or right didn’t carry such a large and assumptive burden, but the nature of elections is one must choose. I know I am in the middle and had to vote like I always have…hoping they would work together and the best of each view emerge. No party will ever have my allegiance and I am not holding my breath wishing for what you hope for in your post. I am going to observe, expect entropy, and highlight those examples that choose to not preserve the positive aspects of statesmanship, reserve, leadership, cooperation, communication, listening, innovation, and compassion, and let go, or let degrade, all of the things that impede such.

My hopes are for beautiful entropy, but my expectation is that both sides will disappoint me greatly.

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4 Doc Coleman November 9, 2012 at 8:36 am

I find it strange the way Americans treat moderates. Normally, a moderate or a Central positions is very reasonable politically, but in America moderates keep being treated as if they are undecided. As if they MUST choose the left or the right and obey them in all things. The thing is that liberalism and conservatism are positions, not solutions. To fix a problem, you really need something that balances between the two. It seems a shame that only extremism seems to gain a following.

Doc

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