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Where do we go from here...?


By Randall Leverette - Posted on 23 October 2008

As I watch the current campaign unfold and rapidly draw to a close, I listened intently this past Sunday to Colin Powell’s reasons for endorsing Barack Obama. (I wrote this Tuesday and since then we've seen Scott McClellan, a former Minnesota Governor and Goldwater's offspring jump ship.) I’ve scoured our home here at RFO too, and what’s amazing is that the themes echoed in Powell's endorsement mirror the months if not years of conversations and comments many of us have had in this place during this political cycle.

I don’t know about any of you but I feel left out -- the current administration has a lot to do with that loneliness -- however, if/once John McCain loses this election what can our party do to get back on the right track? Do we hope that the American electorate and moderate Republicans have short-term memory regarding the Bush years so as to enable a new crop of Republican candidates to get back to basics and the major themes of the Republican Party? How can/do we re-establish ourselves so that we have the crossover appeal of an Obama? Will our party use an Obama win, if it comes to that, as a lesson or will we start pointing fingers yet again?: Obama had more money, he had a better organization, etc. Or will Reaganites blame Neocons and Neocons blame McCain's "campaign" leaving McCain to blame them all.

More troublesome is the seemingly "ugly" side to our party -- the base. By definition base is the foundation and if the foundation is not reflective of a vast number of its members, how can or do we change the direction of our party? If they don’t leave, or aren’t pushed aside, where do we go, you know, those of us who are "un-American," "un-patriotic" and who have "no moral values"? Are we destined to ride the middle only to find ourselves in the “predicament” of going back and forth between Democratic and Republican candidates to vote for and support the lesser of two evils or do we permanently join the ranks of Independents? The thought of abandoning the party is a frightening prospect for me, not because I fear change or loathe Democrats. My fear bubbles to the surface because I like the political ideals of our party: personal responsibility, low taxes, strong defense, fiscal responsibility and when necessary, and let’s face it it’s always necessary, compassion for those less fortunate.

Unlike most countries, America, its people and its government was founded on ideas and belief in those ideas. The true beauty of this nation is its ability to mold, bend and re-work its ideas as its people change. Can our party see its way to be as malleable? I hope so. I so hope that we can get our house in order and that we can return to the ideals for which we once stood. As things wind down, the current situation finds me in a state of confusion and I don’t like it. What was, is not now; this fish, our fish, stinks from the head down and a wholesale cleaning from top to bottom is in order. Can Republicans do it, will we do it? I think so, just look at the two young people who started this place, John Martin and Barbara Gordon, both ahead of the curve and smart enough to take the risk early to seed a new idea called RepublicansforObama.org. Yes we can.

Wow, Golf, that's really nice of you. It was Evan and John's idea though. They just brought me along for the ride.

I hope we can redefine our party in the next decade. Perhaps the spectacular implosion of the McCain-Palin ticket is the beginning of a new day.

And Evan too!
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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

LOVE this site! 

We are keeping the Mitt Romney site up. www.committedtoromney.com.  For the same reason that we are STILL repbulicans first, and we want our party back.  We are trying to find ways now to bring it back from the grasp of the theo-cons who want only their types on the ballots.  Palin has proven to me that the Dr. Dobsons in theis country have more power over McCain than anyone else.  That is NOT a good sign.  I am looking forward to an Obama presidency.  If for anyother reason, it will be fun, and Michelle has more class, and more fashion sense than Palin, who was starting to look and sound a little too 'cindyish'.  Now we know why.  150K in clothes and makeup?  Yeuuup.  she's just like us, they tell me.  Anyway, go to the site, and see what (if anything) you all can contribute to it.  Also try VoterMoms.com.  and ConservativesforObama.com.  

Have fun, and I really do enjoy this site!

Chris

Beautifully written and moving tribute - I only wish I'd found this site a LONG time ago. Do you plan to keep it alive after the election as a place to explore more thoroughly the common ground of wanting to get back to the political ideals of personal responsibility, low taxes, strong defense, fiscal responsibility and compassion for those less fortunate? I may be a Democrat, but I believe in all those things, too. I can't think of anything better than to continue the dialog with like-minded people. "Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." - Elbert Hubbard (R-Iowa 1905-1912)

I dunno, Randall. I've asked the same thing in a forum post, and so has at least one or two other people in the short time that I've been here.

I'm sure that it is a pretty common question. One that I wish that I had the answer to.

As I've said before, I'm still a Republican. I still believe in fiscal responsibility and small government. I still believe in individual responsibility and civil liberties. I still believe that what's good for business is what's good for America, and it's corollary that what's good for America is good for business.

This election sometimes makes me seriously consider switching parties. I'm not there yet, but man. Especially after being accused of not being a "real Republican" or a real "conservative" etc.

While I still believe strongly in freedom of speech, and I don't believe in making any legislative or judicial restrictions on that right, I also believe that the spread of both hate radio and hateful opinions disseminated on the Internet have contributed to the ugliness of our politics in the last sixteen years or so. It really is a shame, and I don't know how to counter it in a way that is still consistent with my own values.

 I do hope that the Obama administration will usher in a new era, an era where our ideals are more consistent with our actions, and vice versa. 

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, & wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russel

Best way to respond to ignorant trolls is to not respond at all, just ignore, don't even bother trying to respond.

As far as the first post, like someone else before me posted, being a Democrat I understand the need for balance and I hope that the Republican party changes also to make us all better...or perhaps moves into a new party?

Leave the base behind and form something new, a party in itself means nothing without people to support it. All "Democrat" and "Republican" are is just words, a label, change the label.

In all honesty I would not consider myself a 100% absolute Democrat, I am not hardcore, some values the Republican party stands for I think are good ideals as well...give me a worthy candidate that wants what is best for us all and I will give them my vote. (aka Reagan etc....) 

As a Democrat who is married to a Republican, I can tell you that I have seen the anguish first-hand of a man who has become so very disillusioned with his party. I have asked him over and over again why he doesn't just change his registration to Independent? He always says that it's his party and he wants it back. I admire him for his tenacity. I think that he deserves to get it back. He is a good man. He is a wonderful father and husband. He works hard to make us comfortable. I love him dearly.

It always amazes me how very alike we are, depite our differences. I guess that is why I no longer view Democrat or Republican as nothing more than a D or R on our voter cards. There is one big difference between us. He came from an affluent background, I did not. Even with that, we both understand that sometimes people need help to improve their lot in life. You know, after my dad died, my mom had to find a job. Back then, women did not make a lot of money, so we did without a lot. I guess that's why I registered as a Democrat - I remember that there was a helping hand when we needed it most. Because of that, my mom was able to raise two children who became very productive members of society. My husband did not have to worry about where his next meal was coming from. He had a big house with a pool, got a car for his 16th birthday, and had no worries. His parents, however, made him get a job while a teen and use his earnings to put gas in the car, pay for any necessary repairs, and for his own spending money. He learned early on that hard work had its rewards.

So, who's right and who's wrong? See, there are no easy answers. He could have simply said that my mom took the easy way out by accepting help. I could have said that he came from privilege and was (gasp) elitist. You know what? When we talked, I mean REALLY talked, we found we had a lot more in common than we first thought. We understood that we each had something that worked for us at the time, and we must never forget that 'there but for the grace of God go I'. From what I have read here at RFO, there is a whole lot more that we have in common than what divides us. Our dialogue has opened us to seeing the 'other side'. That is a good thing - a very good thing.

It is time to stop the finger-pointing, the anger, the hate. Heck, if I can live with this man for 22 years and agree 90% of the time <VBG>, then surely we all can continue what has been started here for the forseeable future. As for the party itself, I want to see it go back to its roots. I want to see it thrive. I want to see it right itself and send all those losers out to pasture. I want to have an alternative when my party is stupid. I want to have an alternative when my party is not listening. Mostly, mostly, I want to be able to vote for the BEST person for the job, party be damned. I want to be able to do what's right for America, no matter the person and no matter the party affiliation. I want to have real political discourse in this country - without rancor, without name-calling, without labels. I want to be able to agree to disagree. I want this country to go back to knowing that 'smart' is a good thing.

Look at your voter card. Does it say Republican or Democrat or Independent? Who cares? As long as we can cross party lines to do what is best for our country, then we are all Americans. Please keep something going after the election. We need to be able to call out those pols who would continue the negativity, those who would keep us apart, those who won't work together.

My husband wants his party back. We both want our country back!

Although British, and by nature politically liberal so a Democrat by inclination, I joined this group because I also believe there is merit in the traditional values of the genuine Republican party; one that seeks to win based on superiority of ideas, not character assassination and "Robocalls".

If Obama wins (and I really hope he does - it would be good for ALL America and the whole world for that matter) there may well be a parallel to the Conservative party in my native Great Britain.

Although not as evil with personal attacks as Bush, Thatcher took the Conservative party in the UK to a "me-first", "No foreigner is welcome", "I'm alright Jack" that was very dangerous. This got its come-uppance in 1997 when Tony Blair's "New Labour" (having gone through its own regeneration process shortly before) won the general election in a landslide.

The Conservative party, disoriented, its roots splattered into a million pieces, went through 11 long years in the political wilderness. After regeneration, they have now rediscovered the true merits of moderate conservatism, and are electable once more.

The good thing for the Republican party if Obama wins by a landslide, and if Democrats are in complete control of Congress, is that the politics of fear and divisiveness, the repugnance of which unites all of us on this blog, should dissapear forever. The Republican party can step back, rid itself of the extremists in its ranks and return to the fray with a positive, unifying message of true Republican values.

Then we can find true bipartisanship with healthy discussion, respecting that nobody has a monopoly of wisdom.

I actually believe that even Obama himself would welcome that outcome. He has the utmost respect for political opponents and welcomes healthy debate.

I think when we talk about the "base" we have to remember that they were once southern Democratics by and large, who were driven out by the Social Gospel and civil rights movement. The party was never "theirs"... but they were welcomed with open arms as a voting block. In the last decades the GOP has nurtured them by feeding their bigotry and instilling the idea that Dems aren't real Christians.

Now they've overrun the party, but it may be possible to starve them out, send 'em on over to the Constitution Party where they really belong. To do this is like undergoing cancer treatment - the cure almost kills you. We have to pull our support, let it's numbers dwindle to shrink it's power, then we have to run good old fashioned moderates. Some folks here ought to think about running for office on down the road.

Great post Randall.  

Or jam them in a time capsule and send them to the fields at Gettysburg.
Maybe the two party system has been simply been outgrown. If we had more parties, more electable choices it would mean less adherence to a rigid ideology.

I agree with that. But the problem with other parties (we certainly do have them in the U.S.) is that they want the whole enchilada right away. No running for local offices, state offices, building up support and press coverage, then congress, and then trying for the presidency.

Walking in off the street and trying for the presidency against two powerful and long-established parties is just not going to work.

You're so right about that. Odd, my little hide-away town in upstate is predominately the green party. The mayor here was 26 and was doing a good job until he started marrying gay couples, essentially breaking the law.

In this day in age everyone wants instant gratification, no one wants to do the heavy lifting early on. It's the way things are these days unfortunately.

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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Hear Hear!

Great piece, very well written.

I may consider myself an independent (simply so I can acknowledge that neither party has what I want) but I share the sentiment that a once great party is now... well.. rabid.

I wonder if creating a new party would be a better fit? I'm no political scholar so forgive me if some of these thoughts are a bit idealistic.

If you try to reform the Republican party then it'll be a hell of a row to hoe. The problem, in my opinion, is the evangelical base. Not all evangelicals are in this same boat, some are quite laid back. I'm talking about the other ones.

Taking out such a large part of the base would leave the structure unstable. Plus how could you undo such a gigantic and tsunami sized influx (and coddling ) of them from the leaders of the GOP? I think it may be impossible.

Creating a third party might be a little bit easier. Its true that it would have to start on the local (city even) level before it could gain enough momentum to vie for the presidency. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion. There are plenty of things to do locally that can have a reverberation all the way up the chain.

I think the hardest part about creating a new party is the name. This sounds a bit trite I know, but think about it. Calling it the New Republican Party is still too close to allow moderate Democrats to feel comfortable claiming it. The Independent party is taken. Calling it the Right Democratic Party is also exclusive.

Remaking the Republican party back into its old self would be wonderful but base limiting. I think there are a lot more Americans who would agree with a turn back to the true values of Republicanism, yet after the past ten years the label may turn off voters who still remember the last time the 'product' left a bitter taste in their mouths.

I think of it almost like marketing. The ideals are important, but so is the label.  

No apologies needed for being idealistic, that's where all good ideas come from. I agree it is a marketing issue, the brand is sorely damaged, something I spoke of in an earlier piece a while ago. 

That's just it, I don't really know how large this base is. You know, it could be one of those things where the squeakiest wheel gets the grease. The rest of us don't really "care" as long as the house isn't being burned down. Well the house is being burned down and with stupid stuff; it's like using a petroleum based product in aerosol form and lighting a cigarette while you're spraying and wondering why a fire starts. It's just stupid and nonsensical.

I was fooled both times with G.W.B. I voted for him and in the back of my mind were visions of his dad and Colin Powell. I thought he'd take advantage of that dearth of experience. Boy was I wrong. I mean if my dad had been president and I won my own term I sure would have him in there talking to me and helping me every chance I got. I wouldn't give a rat's behind what it looked like

As for rebranding, maybe it's called the Lincoln Party, Lincoln was a uniting figure and did great things and similar to Obama was wet behind the ears and from Illinois. One thing is for certain, those of us who think like me and are moderate in their politics must do something if we don't want to see ourselves wandering around the desert for 40 years.

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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

That's a very good point about the base and its size. I wonder if there could be a Republican census of some sort. Five headings (any more than that and people get confused too easily) along the lines of 'how do you identify yourself' perhaps?

Evangelical, fiscal conservative, moderate, social etc.

The Lincoln Party. Wonderful idea and it obliterates the need for those pesky labels of R and D and even liberal and conservative perhaps. 

(As a Democrat) from the outside looking in, I'm not sure who the Republican Party truly represents anymore.  I have two conservative acquaintances whom I have referred to this site.  Their particular aversion to Senator Obama resides more in his comments on abortion and faith based issues than anything else.  Interestingly enough, they have no problem with a potential infusion of more "socialist" type thinking into governmental policies, because their lives, like mine, directly benefitted from New Deal socialist type initiatives.

Their emotions on abortion/faith run as high as mine do on the subject of the suspension of habeas corpus by the Bush administration.  That's just it though, they are influenced by emotions and "reasonable" minds (given persuasive leadership) can overcome flaccid emotions.

With the right type of leadership (Sen. Obama in this case), they (reasonable minds) will begin to see that an open approach to choice on abortion & faith based issues is ultimately, to their advantage.   As for where your party goes, if abortion and faith based platforms can be eliminated, is a move toward libertarianism in the offing? I like libertarian stands against progress imperialism (i.e. the Iraq invasion) and for strong civil liberties.  I personally however strongly disagree with their notions on free market economies and the exclusion of a governmental role in commerce.

As for the right wing of the party, I think its influence will gradually (and greatly) decline.  The backbone of that wing of your party appears to be Christian conservatives.  With memberships in Christaian churches on the decline, and on the heels of Simcha Jacobovici's discovery of the tomb and bones of Jesus, his family and followers, the influence of the Christian agenda will all but disappear.  (I believe) this will cause the Republican Party (as we know it today) to vanish as their support will only be among the declining ranks of the wealthy.  Secular humanism and church as a social construct will (finally) replace the banal mythical conflicts espoused by the prejudicial and antiquated church of today.

This is very common: social conservatives cannot look past Obama's record on abortion. period.

This is also a problem for the future of the party. It's easy to say, "we need to redirect the party around one unifying issue." The problem is, nobody can agree on what the core issue of the party is. The federal/fiscal conservatives will tell you that true conservatism should take precedence; the social conservatives will tell you that "family values" should take precedence. I honestly feel like there's a stalemate and I'm not sure what will happen next.

I think you vastly overestimate the ability of reason and science to render religious ferver irrelevant.

That's part of my confused state Barbara. I don't begrudge belief in religion, but to me social conservatives means a prescription of values and judgement of people and for the most part those teachings are based on the church one might attend. So one side of the mouth says lets promote social conservatism and on the other side you have the same people wanting to be strict constructionist. They argue for protecting a fetus but at the drop of a hat would fry somene for certain criminal offenses.

And then there's seperation of church and state it's not the longest of clauses in the constitution and it's pretty simple: the government will stay out of the church and the church should stay out of government. The last thing I want is for this country to mirror the governments of the middle east and that it seems is exactly what "social conservatives" want.

The other thing that I didn't put in my post but thought of it afterwards is this: the base of the Republican Party is so very similar to the dependable vote of blacks for the democrats. Come hell or high water, they will vote Republican no matter how BAD the situation or candidate. The other thing that's interesting is the turmoil of our party today is usually what's seen in the Democratic Party.

It makes no sense...they've buggled this so badly that they will lose all that they care for simply out of spite becasue they've gone to far and have been unwilling to compromise or seek common ground. It's their way or no way.

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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Barbara, I do agree with you that science and reason do not always render religious ferver irrelevant but not all in the Christian conservative wing of your party fall into the "fervent" category, do they?  One thing is a certain fact however, Christian (particularly evangelical) church attendance is on a steep (and probable irreversible)decline (with the notable exception of the Mormon faith).  These decline in numbers will inevitably affect (faith based) affiliations with the Republican Party.  Please help me to understand as well:  are there other pillars of "conservative" family values other than the abortion issue?  It's been said before on this site, but I think the Democrats beat the Republicans hands down on "family values" issues.

Sex education, gay marriage, what's on television (God forbid you get up and change the channel)...who else can help with this list?
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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Okay, granted, but aren't those stances softening a bit?  Nobody is carrying a banner in my community against sex education or for prayer in schools.  Gay marriage is probably unsurmountable for the Christian conservative, but I have heard of some conservative churches, who are, on gay relationships at least, adopting a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.  Senator Obama himself has said he does not favor any type of legislation that recognizes gay marriage. 

"Okay, granted, but aren't those stances softening a bit?"

I don't know TR, but I would guess it would depend on where you live as to any softening. And even that doesn't matter becasue opponents import opposition. Which kills me when they say leave it up to the states and then the state does something and then wham...outside forces come in.


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Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Golf11, I hear you, and some accuse me of being naive, but I truly believe (and hold out great hope) that the effectiveness of those type of tactics end with Senator Obama's election.    I think we will be pleasantly surprised by the positive change in our political atmosphere.

We need to start learning to talk about our common ideas and not get so standoffish on what we disagree on.

Here is my take on things.

Religion - I am not religious, I normally do not care for religion, I think wars are fought more based on religion than any other topic on this planet. Now I DO see the good of some religion, help in communities, help for the poor and less fortunate, missionaries etc...I see the good absolutely.

Abortion - I think it is wrong for anyone else to tell a woman what she should do with her body, I am a man and do not have any clue what it means to carry a child. However, take a sh*t or get off the pot...if ya find out you are pregnant, make a choice SOON. Don't wait weeks, make that choice fast because after a very short time then I think it becomes wrong to abort.

Military - I was raised by a man who fought in Vietnam and was a Marine for 21 yrs, spent my whole life around the military, I am a massive patriot. I am one of those grown men that gets tears in my eyes when I see a soldier die or hurt in combat on tv, I would give my life for this country right this second if the need was there.

Health care - This one is kinda tough. I have an autistic stepson, I know healthcare in our country sucks, but if other democracies can get it done why cant we? Very hard to find the right plan and way to do it though. I do think all children should be protected but I will confess I would not know the best way to do this.

Anyone got different views? Share it! Lets talk about it! Lets get some good discussions, no attacking just explain your own thoughts. 

Phantiasmic:  Good idea.  I think a new party may be a good start.  I like the idea of the Lincolnests the Moderates or Centrists would probably be less wieldy, with the advantage of reminding members what the party is supposed to be about. Background information - I am a reluctant democrat.

Religion:  Freedom of Religion seems like a no brainer absolute, but how are you going to define religion?  I think the situation is such that right now I could rent any storefront and start preaching and I would get a tax exemption on any money I could convince anyone to give me.  Some religions require animal sacrifice, which is absolutely horrible to others in the country.  How do we determine what is valid and what is not?

 Abortion:  I am female, never had a child.  I am not pro abortion, but I am reluctant to pass anti-abortion laws.  I would fell much better about  antiabortionists positions if they spent as much time and energy in sexual education and birth control devices  to help avoid unwanted pregnancies as they do protesting abortion. Instead they try to pass legislation that intesifies the problem, (no sex education, abstinance only, forbidden money for birth control programs if abortion is included etc). If you don't want the problem, don't create the environment in which the problem would thrive.

Military: Don't know much about it. Definately necessary, but would need alot of convincing regarding pre-emptive strikes. Support for troops AND veterens.  Better thought going into military purchases, new is not always best, nor is most expensive.

Health Care:  No way will no one complain about anything anyone will develop.  Question, how can America's approach be best if we are  last in every health care measure of all industrialized nations?  Other nation's approach  have problems, but what is the end goal of health care? Good health? or a healthy bank balance for the industries specializingin health care? 

Capitalism vs Socialism:  Absolute either will not promote a healthy society.  The results of unregulated capitalism we see today. The results of nearly pure socialism we see elsewhere.  I think the USA was doing pretty good until the current financial mess. Therefore, I think regulations are necessary regarding public safety: ie food, medicine, products and regulations regarding a balance between labor and owner is a good idea too.

 

and what do you get, another day older and deeper in debt.

My responses:

Religion - the problem with religion is everyone thinks theirs is the 'right' one. We all know what a theocracy will produce (ie, Taliban). We need to maintain separation of church and state. It is crucial to our democracy, and freedom to worship any one chooses is essential to a healthy society.

Abortion - I don't like it, but would never presume to tell someone else what they can and cannot do. It comes down to when you believe life begins - and THAT has been dictated by religions. As far as late term, the life and health of the mother MUST be in any law written, as no one has the right to interfere with decisions made by a woman with the assistance of her doctor.

Military - I view the military as essential, no more, no less. It should only be used as a last resort, not something with which to bully the rest of the world. It needs to be strong, but we also need to reign in the spending.

Health Care - the problem with health care is that it is 'for profit'. This has allowed medical decisions of life and death to be made based on the needs of the corporation, rather than the needs of the patient. It is inherently wrong for a corporate lackey to hold the keys to your health. Your doctor's recommendations for your care should be paramount, yet it takes a back seat to someone sitting in a cubicle worrying about the bottom line. What's wrong with that picture??? Until we take the profit out of it, the patient will always be just a number who is trying to siphon off the money the corporation needs to give its stockholders. This is just plain WRONG!

Taxes - I don't know what is the best method of taxation. I do know that my family has benefitted from the Bush tax cuts, while we watch our friends struggling just to get by day to day. We should ALL feel comfortable paying income taxes. They are a necessary evil. They build and maintain our infrastructure, they pay for government programs that assist people to get back on their feet, they pay for education, and on and on. What is the most equitable tax format? That's a good one for debate. Right now, though, I know we are ready to return to our old tax rate and give someone else a break for a while. After that? I'm open to ideas.

Education - We must make education a priority. Other countries are passing us by. Vouchers? A partially good idea. But when we start sending kids elsewhere, the schools that are in desperate need of repair are still left lacking. Here is my take on this. First and foremost, we must make sure that our teachers are capable of teaching. We must hold them to very high standards, and if they don't perform they are out the door. For the ones that remain, they should be paid top dollar. The physical buildings, in many instances, are in dire need of repair or should be torn down. I know that I would not want to have to attend a school where paint is peeling from the walls, ceilings are ready to collapse, the heat doesn't work, etc. It's depressing. How does one keep their spirits up in such an environment? Yes, there may be some people who wind up getting more out of the deal. I don't care. Everyone deserves to be educated, and everyone deserves to do so in a safe, welcoming environment.

Deregulation - I think we've seen what the people in the market will do when left unchecked. There must be some kind of oversight when they are messing with our money. There are some other things that should be regulated - monopolies. We know we cannot trust a company to 'do the right thing' when there is no competition. If left to their own devices, they most likely will take advantage of the consumer. If deregulation stimulates competition, then I'm all for it. I was in favor of the breakup of Ma Bell, and I worked there! Now that my little piece of Maryland has competition in the cable market, I have better service, lower prices, and more selection. If I don't like what they have, I go to the competition. Works most of the time.

Okay, that's what I have to say about things. I want a party that shares most of my beliefs. My husband and I feel like we're caught in no man's land. We agree 90% of the time, but with neither party that often. Does that make us both something else? I think so. But what? That's the question we're trying to answer here, I think.

Someone wants to discuss ISSUES??? Yeah! Count me in.

Religion - has gotten a bad rap from a small percentage of the overall population.  I am a Christian (Lutheran denomination). Jesus Christ accepted all people and taught us to look out for others -- no matter what their faith.  I was also taught about the other major religions in the world because education leads to better understanding and tolerance.  After 9-11, I was shocked that people of the Muslim faith would want to hurt us like that.  However, my anger and confusion led me to research the faith and found out that the people who attacked us were no more like mainstream Muslims than Branch Dividians resembled my Christianity.  I also learned that the attack was politically motivated, NOT religiously or socially motivated.  (The popular explanation of "they're jealous of how we live" stuff... give me a break!)

Abortion - I don't think I could go through with the procedure (unless a dire circumstance); however, I would never impose my personal view onto another woman; nor do I think it's the court's job to decide what she does with her body.  As for those staunch pro-lifers who are voting on that issue alone: George W. Bush is staunchly pro-life; what has he done to reverse Roe v. Wade in his eight years?  Nothing.  Why do you think McCain will do something different?

Military - I'm proud of our military; seeing someone in uniform puts a lump in my throat because they volunteered to serve this country and to protect us from those who might want to harm us. I believe we should allow them to do their jobs without handcuffs. I also believe we owe it to them to not start wars for the benefit of corporate profits (Shell's contract in Iraq???).  And I vehemently oppose the use of private companies like Blackwater.  I don't pretend to be well-versed on the subject of private war contractors, so I'm curious what others (esp. veterans) think about it.

Health care - I return to my comment about Jesus Christ in religion -- he wanted us to look out for others.  How can we sit around while others can't get medical help when they need it? And how on earth do we justify our inaction with the "it'll raise my capital gains tax" argument? And why don't we promote PREVENTATIVE CARE? A completely nationalized system scares me, though Canada seems to be doing it quite well. I think there's a middle-ground, though, and I'd like to see us move toward that middle ground.

Hey, thanks! It's fun discussing stuff other than $150,000 spent at Nieman's.   

The problems we face will not be solved by the minds that created them.

My religion is not in freefall.  We get new members every day, every hour.  I am LDS.  That is what scares the heck out of bigoted evanglaicals who think this is a cult.  Well, it's a darn big cult, if you ask me!  Were pushing 13 million now.  This is why the GOP is in freefall.  religious bigotory.  if your a Muslim republican, don't run for office.  If your a buddist, no votes for you.  If your LDS, forget it.  But, if your butt is in the right pew on Sunday, your in like flint.  I NEVER want to see another candidate (obama included) go and kiss the rick warren ring again.  Article 5 must be upheld.

I would take exception to the statement that evangelical churches are losing membership - statistically it is the Protestant mainline churches that are declining. Those that have left take one of two paths in almost equal measure - non afilliation altogether or entry into the network of nondenominational/charismatic churches.

The growth of these pentacostal/charismatic churches is fueled by the appeal of the highly emotive style of worship, could be seen as equal to the growth of the nonaffilliated so as to cancel one another out statistically, but it doesn't represent a decline of evangelism. In fact it's the contrary, and because it is such a politically motivated theology it will continue to play a significant role in US politics for some time to come. Worldwide the charismatic faiths are on the rise as well, with southern hemisphere Catholicism adopting some of those ideas. Here in the midwest even Quakerism is affected - it's hard to distinquish my local Friends Meeting from a Sourthern Baptist service, even to apocalyptic theologies.

I believe that the human religious impulse is so much a part of our very nature that it will never leave us but rather evolve (mature) to a less dogmatic, more naturalistic type of..... worshipful gratitude, more along the lines of the Christian mystical experience ala Meister Eckhart or Jesuit priest H. A. Reinhold. (Read The Soul Afire: Revelations of the Mystics.) Less of a personal theism toward a more universal holism that creates unity... but this is beside the point of the post.

Even in my conservative community we have 3rd party candidates running for office and sometimes getting elected. But for the big ticket items, 3rd parties don't stand a chance. But this is today...

Just as the recent government intervention on our financial institutions has changed the nature of capitalism forever, so too would a landslide away from the Republican party change the system forever. We will only know how in retrospect.

There is a hunger for unity as evidenced by those here and by Obama's success. Perhaps in the future we will call ourselves the Progressive Party.

Nightporch:

I would tend to think the growth in the charismatic/pentecostal churches (in the United States) is from within.  It may, as you allude, be a different story worldwide.  I heard a local minister say that "regular & frequent" church attendance is practiced by as little as 15% of the population (and expected to decline as congregations age). 

Interesting though, you appear to be a traditional church attender but reject apocalyptic dogma.  Are you unique among your fellow congregants or is it a tenet of your faith?  I believe I have read Reinhold but had trouble making any "connections."

You might be interested in reading Pew Center on Religion and public Life's recent report on faith in the U.S. It's a very extensive survey of beliefs, traditions and the fluidity of affiliations. A brief summary is here: http://religions.pewforum.org/reports

The whole 200 and some page report is here, http://religions.pewforum.org/pdf/report2-religious-landscape-study-full.pdf

And a good article appeared in the LA Times and can be read here: More in U.S. jump to new faiths, poll finds

Americans are switching religious affiliation in ever-greater numbers or abandoning ties to organized denominations altogether, and Protestants are on the cusp of becoming a minority, according to a survey released Monday

 

Nightporch:

Interesting and thoughtful.  Thank you for taking the time to include the links.

-TR

Randall,

The problem with the republican party is that demographics are changing. Hispanics are increasing, AA are increasing. We are now a more diverse nation that at anytime in our nations history.

Much of the base are/were southern democrats who left the party after the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. LBJ famously said that the Democratic Party has now 'lost the south for a generation'. Many suburbanites, southerners abondoned the Democratic party because they thought the party only cared for the poor and AA. That it didn't speak about 'middle america'. Irony has it that the first serious african american presidential candidate is now seen as the champion of the middle class.

The republican party is now struggling because its base is shrinking, racial antagonism has seriously declined as older white americans are passing away, diversity is increasing.

Just take a look at the two conventions and the stark differences. For now, the democratic party seems to represent americas future. Unless the GOP can shed it face as a 'white man' party, its going to be a long struggle.

In addition you have ideological fractions breaking now. The reaganites vs the neocons vs the religous right. Who wins the battle for the soul of the party?

That will determine the direction of the GOP for the next generation.

Agree, 100% and that's why I put in there will the Republican Party learn to be malleable? I would hate for them to have to repopulate those who are dying out with younger voters on the fringe and I think we know who they are. They're trying it now out of desperation. It comes down to it's all about the brand.

^^^^^^^
Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

I have to say, as a Dem i do want the republican party to go back to being a party of ideas again. But alas, I think the rockefeller republican is a dying breed.

A word of advice, the grassroots followed Dean after his loss. He became the DNC chair and revitalised the party.

Ron Paul is the future. He just needs to moderate his views a bit, personal responsebility is crucial, but government does have a role to play in making sure that the playing field is even (hence the resque plan for wall street).

Its not an either-or proposition, but both-and.

Look to Scandinavia.

Dixie33,

let us toast for the many great republicans here and across our land. I hope I have the courage of so many people here to follow your convictions when my party betrays me as well (that is eventually inevitable).

Dear God I hope Ron Paul is not the future! 

He neglects to reveal his theocratic leanings so that his libertarian and anti war views remain appealing, especially to young progressives that have no idea of his religious right and, dare I say, racist leanings. On the top of my list is his desire to outlaw ALL abortion, a position held by a scant 12% of the population. 

 Here are some snipped excerpts from one of his editorials: 

"The Christmas spirit, marked by a wonderful feeling of goodwill among men, is in danger of being lost in the ongoing war against religion." 

"Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. The justification is always that someone, somewhere, might possibly be offended or feel uncomfortable living in the midst of a largely Christian society, so all must yield to the fragile sensibilities of the few.

The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation, a nation that is legally and culturally biased against Christianity."  

"The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers."

"The Founding Fathers envisioned a robustly Christian yet religiously tolerant America, with churches serving as vital institutions that would eclipse the state in importance." The War on Religion - Ron Paul 2003   

He co-sponsored HR 888, the Christian revisionist bill full of historic distortions and outright fabrications, most of which have been propagated by author David Barton,  "honoring our Christian heritage" and calling for a week each year to be set aside to honor that heritage and educate the nation's children on their Christian roots.

Chris Rodda and Bruce Wilson have painstakingly torn the bill apart in a series of articles at Talk2Action.org. The revisionist history of Barton's book has animated the Christian Nation crowd since its publication in the early 90's, along with "The Myth of Separation," so much so that the manipulated quotes far outnumber the instances of accurate quotes cited on the internet. Another ten years of msinformation and American history will be completely rewritten - especially if we can get the deceit enrolled in Congressional records! 

Some other select statements: "Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action" 

"The "living Constitution" is the death of democracy." Ron Paul subscribes to the "Constitution in Exile" philosophy which argues that the whole range of regulatory functions of government are unconstitutional, especially federal environmental laws. S

Some time back the NYTimes Sunday mag did a great piece on this political philosophy titled "The Unregulated Offensive", you should read it.  

In decades past he used to publish a very racist newsletter, the "Ron Paul Political Report" which regularly appeared as articles in several white supremist and holocaust denier publications.

During his presidential campaign there were calls for him to distance himself and denounce their support, but they went unheeded. He denies writing any of the articles that appeared in his newsletter:  "When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name."

VoteSmart.org has a tally of his voting record, as they do for all in public office, as well as interest group ratings.

Among them we find that he voted NO on tax incentives for energy production and conservation. (Jun 2008) and NO on tax incentives for renewable energy. (Feb 2008)

He advocates the closing of the Department of Education and encourage homeschools and private schools via tax breaks and he supports "present scientific facts that support reationism." 

Furthermore, I don't like his friends. His recent Campaign for Liberty featured Constitution Party leader and theocrat Howard Phillips along with Grover Norquist and Barry Goldwater Jr.. He also received a hearty endorsement from Michael Anthony Peroutka of the Constitution Party (whose primary mission is to restore the judiciary to "biblical foundations") (Incidentally, the Alaskan Independence Party is the Alaskan state chapter of the Constitution Party, a fact that eludes the media in the hubbub of Palin's associations.) 

He’s a wolf in libertarian’s clothes….. Moderate his views "just a bit"??? I wish folks would really do some research on Ron Paul!

The Pary has Left US

 As a life-long R, it is time for me to CHANGE. This is a Republican Party with which I am not familiar. I find myself oppesed to almost all of the stands taken by our out of touch and extremist base.  This country and the world have changed more in the past decade than all of my previous life. The problems we face no longer fit the narrow out-dated views of the Republican Party.

It's time for me to become an Independent or a Democrat or help start a new relevant polical party.

Presently I am leaning towards joining the Demorratic Party because of Barack Obama.

I think you should fight for the party. Fight to rejuvenate the party.

Find your Dean and follow him.

The GOP must be made viable again. A strong two party (or multi-party) system is essential in America. Someone has to be left in the GOP to lift it out of its lunatic fringe base, and bring it back to being the party of people, instead of just a few unenlightened self interests.

Question. And I am making this as food for our brains to chew on.

 What if the Republican party is now going through what the Democratic party did go through back in and around 1964 as someone else stated, where people felt the Democrats had lost touch with middle America having been so focused on minority issues?

What if it is just peaks and valleys and now people are simply "coming home"? 

Maybe it helps if you realize that the "Republican" Party name is nothing more than a brand. It's marketing. It can be changed or they can launch a campaign to fix the damage when the smoke from this election clears. It is more effective from a marketing point of view to re-brand. (I happen to be in marketing).

What I'm saying is that the ugliness carries a heavy weight. As Republicans, you may be better off letting the extremists keep the now-tainted name and create an offshoot party of moderate conservatives. Keep the wack-jobs out and create a new trust by luring respected conservatives to the fold. If you check your history books you will find out that before we had the monikers of "Democrat" or "Republican", there was other parties. They are not finite entities. When they fail, they can sometimes do so spectaculary and attempts to revive them only make the situation crumble faster. 

With a new brand you can point at the Michelle Bachmanns and the Sarah Palins, Cheney, Rove, O'Reilly, Coulter, Limbaugh et al and make it very clear what the distinction is. Keep the far right at arms length and rebrand the party with a common sense approach.

 --------------------------------

And finally, I just felt the need to comment on one other thing that is being talked about here. That contentious abortion issue.

There is a lot of misinformation swirling around from the pro-life camp that really needs to be looked at before any reasonable person could render an educated opinion. For instance, there is no medical procedure called "partial birth abortion". It's a marketing term aimed to frighten people.  The procedure they are referring to is called "intact dilation and extraction". It is the safest route for the mother yet it is reported that up to 70% of people polled are against it. Why? Do they want a mother with a inviable fetus to die? What is her crime?

Contrary to their hateful literature, this procedure is not done for "birth control" purposes. In the 3rd trimester, it is safer for a woman to carry to term than to have an abortion. These so-called "partial birth abortions" are only granted when the mother's life is at risk. 

So when we listen to these thugs and their propaganda, we put women's health at risk. And over what? A marketing term? Because of the fury surrounding this made up term, there are now States which have disallowed the safe extraction of a non-viable fetus are are forcing women to undergo a more dangerous procedure. It's political, it's criminal and as women we should all be concerned. 

Most people have no idea what Roe vs Wade contains. They are so blinded by their fear and hatred of baby killers that they forget to look at the science and logic behind the decision. My point is that we all need to re-examine where and who we get our information from. It is not good enough to find out about abortions from "pro-life" groups and their websites. They go out of their way to misinform and frighten people. It's a win at any cost mentality.

I agree with Obama that the reasons for abortion need to be addressed. Access to birth control, better information for women of child bearing age, reduce the need for abortions. Ignorance isn't the answer yet that's what we have been sold.

My biggest hope for an Obama presidency is that fear mongers will finally be silenced. That might be too tall an order but truth has definitely taken a backseat for the last 20 years. How is anyone supposed to wade through the mud and sludge and distractions created to misinform and frighten us all? 

<Officially stepping down off my pulpit>

Excellent points Canadian, what I hear you saying is that both groups have been "selling the sizzle, not the steak" and we've fallen for it for years. I think many of us are starting to wise up.

^^^^^^^
Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

Thank you for getting that Golf11. It seems when the topic of abortion is raised, the person yelling the loudest and in the most angry tone gets to prevail. We need to take the world back from these ignorant types. I guess the point I was trying to make is that we need to stop and re-evaluate almost everything we think we know. Even contentious issues because we've been fed such a line of bullsh@t for so long by so many. There is never going to be a solution that makes 100% of people happy. It's such a complex subject with a multitude of reasons for and against any side. 

I have a hard time understanding why so few, loud, obnoxious and frightening people get to define more public policy than the moderate folks. Being reasonable hasn't been a working strategy during the Bush years. 

This is not a perfect world. There are some things that we will never agree on. Abortion is one of those topics. But do we force every woman to live according to the tenets of Sarah Palin's religious leanings? Is there room for what I believe? Or what you do? Sarah's narrow path would surely disadvantage women as they wouldn't even be allowed to learn about birth control. Prevention is not allowed and abortion under any circumstance is forbidden.

According to Sarah and her followers, life begins at conception. The moment a sperm meets the egg, even before the cells split. Yet they conveniently ignore that our eggs and a man's sperm are also alive. Expanding on their logic, half a baby each if you will, the recipe for life. If they were honest about their beliefs, then masturbation would be a crime. A boy could be arrested for a wet dream. A woman's period would be treated as the destruction of a human life as the egg washes out of her uterus. How far do we let these unscientific fear-based beliefs go? It sounds ridiculous but I can guarantee you that someone, somewhere in this world takes the bible so literally that a menstrating woman is still considered "dirty" and should be avoided. There are pockets of people who reject any interpretation of the bible. To them, it is exactly as written.

As we learn and evolve, we have to re-define what the bible means. As we find out that dinosaurs and man did not co-exist. As we learn how old our planet is and how lakes and rivers formed. It isn't useful to debunk science by making up falsehoods. My favourite recently was that "carbon dating is false". They (uninformed religious talking heads) "proved" carbon dating was false by taking an object that could not be accurately carbon dated and when it came back understandably inaccurate, that was their so-called proof. But by the time it became news, many Christians were on board with the unscientific misrepresentation. It is now repeated as "fact".

It is not relevant in today's world to expect women to let nature take its course. We deserve to be more than accidental mothers. John McCain voted to allow insurance companies to reject coverage of birth control to women, yet he was okay with funding viagra for men. The message? Keep men as virile and potent as they can be. Women, you can keep bearing children until your body gives out... just like the good old days of our grandparents. 

It is not equality. It's the enslavement of women. 

I can't really get into the discussion about abortion with you. My view on it is so skewed. I'm personally against but I think my reasons are more related to it being used by some as a form of birth control. What's worse, I'm one who believes that life begins at birth, the moment an individual begins to breath, eat and exist without doing so by using the internal bodily functions of another or at the stage where an unborn can exist outside of mom even if premature. I'm no doctor so these are beliefs based on what I feel in my heart.

All of that said, as a guy, I would never seek or want to impose my will on any woman in this area nor would I judge if she moved in either direction. I've gone through life being judged so I keep my mouth shut when it comes to others and decisions they make for themselves that don't impact in any way someone else or another's personal life. I will say this: I can't imagine, nor do I think I'd want to imagine the joy of carrying a child and giving birth. The thought of passing something the size of a bowling ball, well lets just says it sounds totally unpleasant.

^^^^^^^
Golf11, NYC
Vero Possumus

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