Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Not My Grandfather's Republican Party

Watching the spectacle of delusion and denial unfold at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul MN, the most striking aspect is the clear evidence that the GOP has become completely beholden to a rabidly neo-conservative evangelical base.

The GOP of 2008 bears little or no resemblance to the GOP of only twenty years ago, let alone the Party my Grandfather supported fifty years ago. Yes that's right, my Grandfather was a Republican. He believed in the ideals and values of the party that once elected Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency.

Yet I seriously doubt he, or Lincoln himself for that matter, would recognize the party meeting in St. Paul this week.

Abraham Lincoln believed in freeing the oppressed, uniting the nation, and punishing War Profiteers. John McCain's GOP ignores oppression in countries that don't have Oil or where the leaders are family friends. And ignores the fact that we have had a war profiteer as Vice President for the last 8 years.

Dwight Eisenhower viewed war is always a last desperate resort, and an unchecked military industrial complex is a threat to democracy. John McCain's GOP sees an unchecked military industrial complex is a crucial part of their "base."

Richard Nixon understood that we live in a world of interconnected global relationships. Constructive engagement and detente' are always more successful than direct conflict. John McCain's GOP blusters "You are with us or against us". To seek the cooperation of Foreign Leader or even to have respect of citizens of other nations is ridiculed as a sign of weakness.

Gerald Ford truly believed in duty, and that the interests of the nation are more important than polls or elections. He was a living example on how accepting responsibility for the actions you take in office, is a president's first obligation. John McCain's GOP sees transparency as a threat and can never under ANY circumstances admit a mistake.

Ronald Reagan saw that to achieve PEACE through strength, America's allies were the key to America's security. He knew that Big Government is never a substitute for American Ingenuity, and he understood that Faith is a private matter not a poltical platform. John McCain's GOP uses faith is political tool. America's historic allies are disposable, and big Government is great when it can make your base happy.

George HW Bush said it best in his inaugural address; "In crucial things, unity, in important things diversity, and in all things generosity. When America says something, America means it. Whether a treaty an agreement or a vow made on marble steps." He used Personal diplomacy to build a grand coalition of nations the likes of which had not been seen since World War II. John McCain's GOP thinks that the Geneva Convention is "Outdated and quaint", "public" meetings should only be open to hand picked supporters. And has given us a nation more divided than at anytime since the civil war. When we most needed strong alliances, we instead have a "Coalition of the Willing". A handful of countries with a handful of troops.

My Grandfather's Republican Party fought for smaller,less intrusive Government John McCain's GOP fights to amend the constitution to regulate the bedrooms and bodies of American Women. Along with a pledge to continue the largest and most costly expansion of the Federal Government in History.

My Grandfather's Republican Party sought to make the US the leader of Strong Global Alliances. John McCain's GOP loves to bash the UN, act unilaterally and recklessly, and trash traditional alliances calling them "Old".

My Grandfather's Republican Party understood fiscal responsibility, and that Jobs are the engine of the American Economy. John McCain's GOP, after only eight short years has given us massive Debt and deficits. Policies that tax the Lower and Middle Class to pay for tax breaks for the most wealthy, resulting in the loss of more jobs on their watch than any time since the days of Herbert Hoover.

This week in St. Paul we will hear a great deal about the GOP's "respect for life", an easily packaged label for a zealous push to eliminate reproductive rights for American women, and achieve theologically based government regulation of how life begins and ends.

"Defending families" will be the code phrase for the zealous push to deny any and all, rights, to Gay and Lesbian Americans no matter what the cost. Arabic translators who could in fact, help win the "war on terror" must be purged from the Department of Defense. Veterans who serve with honor and distinction must be demonized if they stand up and say who they are and who they love. Americans who have lost loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan must be rendered silent and invisible. Denied any right to publicly grieve, because the soldier they mourn was their partner, and loved someone who was the same gender as they are.

John McCain's GOP easily sets aside issues like dealing the impending collapse of Medicare, the over 8 billion dollars missing from the Iraq reconstruction authority, the near 50 million Americans without health insurance, the problem of illegal immigration, massive trade and budget deficits, or the millions of cargo containers still entering our ports uninspected.

For John McCain's GOP, these and other inconvenient truths, are as easily overlooked as the record of the last eight years has been in the speeches at this weeks GOP Convention.

In an interview with Vatican television in 2003 then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, spoke of the death penalty as one the great evils of the modern world. Religious leaders around the world have been critical of the conduct of the war on terror, American disengagement in the middle east peace process, and intense aversion to meaningful foreign development aid. Yet John McCain's GOP is not interested in hearing about Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses, or how wise stewardship of the environment is "Christian Value".

For John McCain's GOP the "culture of life" ends at the prison door. The Neo-Conservative Right, may hate abortion, but they love capital punishment. John McCain's GOP will rush to defend the lives of the unborn. Yet after you come out of the womb however, you get to join the John McCain's "ownership society" - meaning you are on your own.

For John McCain's GOP, when critics dare question, you call them traitors, you have your surrogates question their character, their motives and their very humanity. In that same inaugural address, George Bush's Father lamented a time in our nation where "not each other's ideas are questioned, but each others motives." Sixteen years later, the party John McCain now leads, has embraced the politics of personal destruction, making a new legacy of division, rancor and politically expedient hate.

We live in a time when the Republican Party seeks to define "American" as only those people who conform to a particular limited , fearful view of the world. It is a political party that history will remember for a legacy of "fifty percent plus one." Where the key to victory is to divide people as much as you can, then prevent any who oppose you from having equal access to the political process. Be they people of color, people who don't speak English, or people who are not Conservative Evangelical Heterosexuals.

This what John McCain and Sarah Palin will ask America to vote for in November.

Thanks, but no thanks. I suggest America follow the advice of another GOP icon, Nancy Reagan...

Just Say No.

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