I grew up in an extremely political home and from my earliest memories, I have identified as a Republican. To my point, I think I might have been the only second grader who watched with extreme interest the presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Interest in politics and identifying myself as Republican has always just seemed second nature.
However, as we gear up for the presidential election next year, I am looking around and wondering where the heck am I? I thought I belonged to a party that stood for lower taxes, not just for lower taxes sake, but for the improved environment it creates for entrepreneurship and capitalism. I thought I belonged to a party that didn’t look to welfare as a long-term solution, but rather as a short-term stepping stone to improving one’s self and becoming a positive force in society.
In short, I thought I belonged to the party that still believed in the American Dream.
As such, I would expect that the issues my party would be focusing on as we head toward 2016 would be say…I don’t know…restructuring or outright battling regulations that discourage rather than encourage economic growth. Another idea might be coming up with solutions to address the decaying infrastructure of our country by exploring partnerships between government and the private sector that would both lead to the improvement of our roads, bridges and national parks and provide jobs to thousands of people still struggling through a slow economic recovery. (I know some might equate this idea with the New Deal and liberalism, but frankly, both of these issues need addressing and coming at it from a conservative perspective rather than moaning about the solutions the liberals come up with seems so much more productive to me. I’m just sayin’.)
Lastly, since so many of us on the right view Obamacare with suspicion and disdain, shouldn’t we be crafting plans and policies of our own that would address the huge boondoggle that is healthcare in our country. Because, as we all remember, the issues regarding skyrocketing costs and insufficient affordable coverage did not begin with President Obama. They simply provided him a platform to present his own solution…which we hate…to the point that it was almost all we talked about for nigh unto four years. So shouldn’t having a plan of our own to present to the voters be our number one priority?
Instead, the primary issues that seem to be driving the GOP conversation these days are as follows:
1. Defending a flag that represented a traitorous rebellion against our nation mostly in the name of keeping slavery alive and well.
2. Decrying a Supreme Court Ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.
3. Donald Trump
Let me address each of these separately, may I? Thanks.
I find it interesting that so many people want to cloak the Confederate flag and its continued presence in our society in the argument of free speech. Especially since so many of the people making this argument are the same folks who twenty years ago were the ones apoplectic over the National Endowment for the Arts providing funding for art shows that presented, among other things, a crucific upside down in a glass of urine or the American flag in a toilet. Admittedly, I find both of those examples repulsive and agree that tax payer money should not be used to fund such “art”. However, I would also argue that a flag representing one of the most abhorrent practices in our history should not be flying over taxpayer funded buildings such as the South Carolina capitol building. To me, it’s the same thing. And I don’t want to hear ridiculous arguments such as, “It is a preservation of our culture and history.” Bull Crap!!! Let’s ask just about any African American citizen in South Carolina and see how they feel about that memorial to their culture and history being displayed atop a building they pay for with their tax dollars.
Bottom line, if somebody wants to have a Stars and Bars license plate on the front of their vehicle or a Stars and Bars blanket that they purchased from a booth in the parking lot of Walmart, so be it. That’s their right. But for any political movement that wants to be taken seriously to suggest that we need to defend the flying of the Confederate flag over a state capitol is ridiculous. And for this issue to be given any serious consideration within the party of Lincoln is irony at its most extreme.
As far as the Supreme Court ruling, I understand how vital to the Republican Party the religious right is. I can also relate to the fear and concern that this ruling creates regarding religious freedoms in America. I do believe this part of the debate is legitimate. However, there is a very fine line between debating the future of religious freedoms and dredging up old slurs and stereotypes in an effort to discredit your opponents. And frankly, in the political climate in which we exist, crossing that line could be fatal. Regardless of the beliefs of any group or individual, the truth is that the winds of change are upon us. Social acceptance of the LGBT community, and by extension same-sex marriage, has become the majority thought in this nation and those on the right would be wise to recognize this. Trying to scare voters against the “evils of the homosexual” might whip up a small minority of the base, but it will just as easily engender disgust and anger on the part of independent and moderate left. You know, the people Ronald Reagan wooed in order to win the presidency in 1980 and ’84.
Now I know that many will scream out that it is the moral obligation of all Christians everywhere to call attention to those who would “Call Evil Good and Good Evil,” but as I have expressed in a previous post, I think they are wrong. I think debating homosexuality itself is pointless and unbecoming of a people who profess to follow a God who loves everyone. Rarely do those debates remain civil and even more rarely do they accomplish anything. For Republicans, this debate has to stay focused on religious freedoms and protecting the constitutional rights of everyone on both sides of this issue.
And finally, how is it possible for one political party to be so incredibly tone deaf when it comes to single fastest growing voting block in this country. The fact that Donald Trump is being given any credibility at all is mind-boggling. Did people not hear him when he basically called everyone who is or has come here illegally a drug runner or a rapist???…or maybe some of them are good people…he’s not quite sure on that one. OH MY FREAK!!! What is wrong with us?
First of all, did no one notice that the GOP lost Nevada (a state they had carried with ease in the past) in 2012? Why do you think that is? Polling data was very clear. Republicans got slaughtered among Hispanic voters which could be traced back to the Republican primary and their nasty rhetoric regarding immigration. I know everyone wants to argue that it was only directed toward illegal immigration, but when you make it easy for your opponents to paint that rhetoric with a wider brush, it doesn’t help your cause.
But more importantly, as mentioned earlier, aren’t we supposed to be the party of Christian values? I’m sorry, but labeling an entire population as rapists and drug-runners doesn’t sound very Christian to me. I’m sure a criminal element exists within the illegal immigration population, but c’mon, saying what he said was absolutely stupid and frankly, in my eyes, makes him unfit to be considered a candidate for president.
However, the larger point is this: the GOP, and specifically the tea party, has got to take a more realistic view towards immigration from Mexico. To claim that illegals are stealing jobs is ridiculous. It is not even remotely that simple. One, most American citizens do not want to do many of the jobs illegal immigrants do nor would they even consider doing them for the wages offered. Two, Americans are not willing to pay the price of what things would cost if they were produced by fully compensated legal American workers. That’s why everything we buy is made somewhere else…including Donald Trump’s clothing line which is ironically made in Mexico. Republicans should be talking about ways to make manufacturing cheaper in this country so that American made goods could be more affordable. And if that includes guest worker programs made available to Mexican citizens, then…Awesome!!!
Don’t get me wrong. I understand there are issues with illegal immigration that need to be addressed. But denegrating an entire society (which, like it or not, has a spill over effect with the entire Mexican-American population) is not the way to go about it. In fact, I have yet to hear Donald Trump correctly address any issue as a candidate for president.
And yet, if you believe the polls, he is currently in second place. (Sigh!!!)
What makes this all so sad for me is that I used to believe that belonging to the Republican party made me someone who was interested in providing a solution rather than being part of the problem. However, as I look over the political landscape today, I can’t see how I can make that claim any longer. Today’s Republican party seems to be far more interested in debating innocuous issues that better the lives of no one. I hope that changes before November of next year, otherwise I will find myself preparing for four years of another Clinton presidency. And quite possibly looking for a new political home.