Tag Archives: zealots

Why Good Republicans Should Vote Democratic in 2018

When I left the GOP in 2000, John Keeler, an eminently thoughtful and civil legislator, asked me what I thought it would take to keep people like me–not just reliable Republican voters, but active  and involved party workers–from leaving. I responded that I would have remained a Republican had the party continued to be the party I’d originally joined–my version of a refrain that I have often heard in the years since, “I didn’t leave the GOP, it left me.”

When I run into people I worked with in the Hudnut Administration, or on campaign committees supporting Republicans like Bill Hudnut and Dick Lugar, the conversation often turns to bewildered “what the hell happened” commiserations. My students (who appear to have overwhelming animus for today’s GOP and its priorities) find it hard to believe that the party wasn’t always a refuge for anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-immigrant, anti-science, anti-government know-nothings.

One consequence of Trump’s election has been a vast increase in political activism by previously unengaged citizens of all ages. And that participation–not to mention demographic data showing a rapidly graying GOP and a young, diverse and growing Democratic party that did not bode well for the future electoral prospects of the Grand Old Party even before Trump– is not a good sign for Republicans.

Right now, the GOP is dominated by a relatively small group of white, elderly political and religious fundamentalists. If it weren’t for highly successful gerrymandering and the Electoral College, the GOP would already have been consigned to permanent minority status.

That wouldn’t be good for America. America needs two responsible, adult parties.

Here is the choice faced by “real” Republicans– the ones who still believe in facts and evidence, in compromise and bipartisanship, in working toward the public good–those who recognize that the last election was not a fight between candidates with contending policy preferences , but an atypical and dangerous departure from democratic norms.

Those Republicans can continue to vote, however reluctantly, for any candidate with an “R” beside the name, and (assuming the country survives Trump/Pence) watch with dismay as the radical cult that is now the GOP dwindles into inconsequence. Or those rational, good-government Republicans can take the party back, and grow it by returning it to its roots in the socially tolerant and fiscally conservative “big tent” politics that have been displaced by the zealots, alt-right bigots and assorted “true believers.”

In order to do that, however–in order to reassert control by the adults–the current iteration of the GOP has to be defeated. If the party is to be resurrected, its faithful voters in those bright-red gerrymandered “safe” districts are the only ones who can do it. They have to declare “enough,” and the only way to do that is by voting Democratic in 2018 and then picking up the pieces, restoring sanity and–quite possibly–saving the two-party system.

If the Trump/Pence/Bannon administration continues on its current course, if enough reasonable Republicans are sufficiently embarrassed and repelled by Mitch McConnell’s appalling behavior in the Senate and by the GOP’s “lunatic caucus” in the House, it might actually happen. (But then, I’ve always been an optimist….)

That’s Funny…

I don’t know whether these things run in cycles, but over the past few days I’ve seen at least three articles/blog posts speculating why there aren’t any conservative comedians–at least, none with the audience of a Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Andy Borowitz, Bill Maher or several other liberal comics who come readily to mind.

I don’t think the dearth of conservative comics is an attribute of political philosophy. After all, in the days of the Soviet Union, there weren’t very many hilarious Communists. I think the problem is fanaticism. A sense of humor requires more than the ability to tell a joke. As my mother used to say, it’s easy to laugh when the other guy slips on a banana peel. People with a sense of humor can laugh when they are the ones who slip on it. The ability to laugh at one’s own foibles is one sign of emotional maturity. If you look at the popular political satirists, they all share the ability to poke fun at posturing and stupidity whether it comes from the right or the left. These days, it just happens to be coming mostly from the right.

Zealots provide a great target for comedians, but they themselves are almost never funny.

Voting for Indiana

I see that John Gregg is throwing the proverbial hat in the ring, and running for Governor against Pious Mike Pence.

I know relatively little about Gregg.  What I do know is that he was once Speaker of the Indiana House, that he is more socially conservative than I am, and that he’s a folksy public speaker. But I really don’t need to know much more, because I do know Mike Pence. And I also know that the last thing Indiana needs is a preacher-in-chief–a Governor with an extreme religious agenda and a very limited grasp of Constitutional history and principles. (Whether that “limited grasp” is a matter of political convenience or genuine ignorance is irrelevant in this context.)

We have seen the harm that can be done when a crop of zealots is elected to the legislature only to be enabled by a Governor who really does know better, but who sacrifices sound policy (not to mention human compassion) to political expediency. The last thing Indiana needs is a Governor who would be a cheerleader for the intolerant, “Christian Nation” elements of that legislature.

I’ve heard very good things about John Gregg, and I hope they are true. But he has my vote because he isn’t Mike Pence.

The Mean Between Extremes

The ancient Greeks used to warn of the dangers of extremism, and advocate for the “golden mean.” Our contemporary circumstances point to the value of that warning.

I posted yesterday about the hateful responses to Elie Weisel’s objection to equating healthcare reform with Nazi death-camps. But the examples extend much farther: the demonizing of Muslims, the insistence by fundamentalist Christians that this is a “Christian Nation” in which others reside only by sufference.

M.J. Rosenberg makes the point forcefully.