Last Wednesday, the day after this year's US presidential election, I posted a statement here I called An open letter to the Republican Party in which I outlined my dismay and disappointment with my own political party, the republicans.
My goal, as much as anything, was simply to get off my chest the things I've been feeling for some time now. Things that make me less and less supportive of both my own party's actions and the actions of politicians in general.
I posted a link to it on Facebook mostly because I hoped a few of my friends might at least take a look. Really, I expected it to end right there.
I couldn't have been much more wrong.
In the five days it's been up, my blog post has been viewed almost nine thousand times. My Facebook link to the post has been re-shared well over 100 times. And, I've been engaged in long and mostly-thoughtful discussions on the topic here in the blog, in Facebook, and via that old standby, e-mail.
I couldn't be more surprised nor, if I had to admit, more pleased.
Because, what I've learned is that I am not alone in my disappointment. Maybe misery really does love company, but with regard to what I perceive to be a problem like this, the only chance of getting it to change is to have a lot of people determined to change it.
And, from what little I can see from here on the second floor in Columbus, Ohio, there is a lot of support out there for a change. Not an Obama change, a real change. A change in the way our government works or, more to the point, doesn't.
I have been heartened by the passion and the support I've seen for my meager words. Minus a few respondents from the far right fringe, there has been an amazingly supportive stream of responses from people on both sides of the aisle.
What this has done for me is confirm what I believe to be the passion in our country for a real change of dialog. A return to a more civil level of discourse and to people with differing ideas working together to find the best possible compromise for our country.
People have been asking me how to make it happen and the real answer is, I'm not sure.
Having said that, I think our country is at the point of almost begging for a revolution of thought. Not a revolution of arms--nothing so radical as that--but a change in the workings of the political system and the way all of us deal with it.
As a practical matter, it would be incredibly difficult to try to create another political party. Look at the Libertarians or, for that matter, the Tea Party. It might actually be that the Libertarians are what we're all looking for in a political party but it's pretty hard to know. With Joe Lieberman as your headline guy, I think it's pretty hard to get a lot of passion going among the millions of people it would take to make a real difference.
More to the point, if the way you win elections is with billions of dollars of support, I don't see anybody other than the two major parties--including the Libertarians--getting that in the short term. But I could be wrong.
Unfortunately, I think it's probably almost as hard to imagine making a substantial change in the Republican party, although I have to say I think they are closer to being willing to consider new ideas than they've been in a long while. But they have a lot of baggage, so I'm less enthusiastic than I'd like to be. Still, it might be possible.
What we need in any workable scenario is a groundswell of support from the people. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that can heavily influence change. Corporations and the wealthy on both sides can pour their multiple millions into the support of whatever they like, but at the end of the day we still have voting, and it's the tally from that which is the final determinant.
I think the timing for something like this is pretty good. If the response to my little blog post is any indication of the pent-up passion out there, and I think it is, it seems like there are a LOT of people ready for some kind of substantive change.
I've been thinking more and more that if there is a solution to this, it may lie in some combination of technology and media. If you look at the power literally sitting in all our hands to communicate widely and immediately through things like Facebook and Twitter and all the rest of it, there is the possibility of the basis for a solution.
Maybe, just maybe, there's a way to leverage the power of these technologies, the masses of people, and the determination that there has to be a better way to work to build an effective and influential base without spending the billions of dollars it took Mitt Romney to lose.
And, I think we need a Rush Limbaugh / Bill Mahr type of media person for sensible government. The problem is, sensible thought and reasonable discourse are not likely to be nearly so entertaining as the ranting and raving of those guys. But it seems like we need someone able to call a spade a spade and to help reinforce the imagination and the will of those who want to see substantive change.
I'm a great believer that every problem has a solution if you can just figure it out, including this one. I'm not sure how one begins such a thing.
I'd sure love to hear your ideas.
Dear Sirs and/or Madams,
I am a life-long Republican. The son of Republicans who were, themselves, the children of Republicans. At fifty-five years old, and as the owner of two small businesses, I believe very strongly in the importance of conservative fiscal policies, and that hard work is the key to success.
I believe it's better to get ahead by the sweat of your own brow than by legislative mandate. And, I believe that the greatness of the United States comes in great part from the flexibility and tolerance we have developed as a culture, rather than from the rules we choose to choke down each others' throats.
By being comprised of so many other cultures, from so many other places, the United States is less a melting pot than what I prefer to think of as a wonderful curry. A rich mixture of flavors and textures which might not be intuitively combined but which, nevertheless, coalesce into a wonderful, incredibly flavorful dish.
It is our strength, not our weakness, that we are not all one thing or another. We are many things, together, and it is this broad exposure to others' cultures, to their ideas, and to both our similarities and our differences that makes us different and, in some cases, a little better.
I was taught, and I still believe it to be true, that the American dream is that any of us, if he or she is smart enough, or lucky enough, or works hard enough, can become rich, or successful or, heaven forbid, even grow up to be the President of the United States.
The America I believe in was built on the basis of limited legislative restriction, broad applicability of free will, and the value of hard work. But it has become increasingly obvious that that is no longer the position of the Republican party and, frankly, I am embarrassed.
When did it become acceptable to overtly attempt to insert not just religion, but Bible-beating creationist Christianity, into our government? Yes, many of the formers of our Constitution were Christians but they clearly, and with no room for misinterpretation, made it absolutely clear that no form of religion--including their own--should have any part in our government.
And, when did it become acceptable to limit the rights of American citizens because of who they choose to love? It is apparently the ignorant and inexcusable position of this party that being gay or lesbian is a choice people make rationally, like choosing a car. That they somehow have opted into a much more difficult and persecuted lifestyle just because, I don't know, because it seemed like fun. And that, regardless, those who make that "choice" are somehow inferior or worthy of lesser forms of equality, or of lesser opportunities.
It is narrow-minded thinking of the worst and most damaging kind, and that's why the Republican Party of today has become a national embarrassment.
I can't think of any clearer way to say it.
This party's obstinate insistence on marching in lockstep with the most radical and narrow-minded creationist right-wingers has crippled its ability to represent and motivate the actual, real live citizens of this country. From what I can tell, "my" party is being run by a commission of geriatric white Southern Baptist preachers and they have made the party look ridiculous, vindictive, and idiotic.
I don't think there is really much doubt in most voters' minds that, of last night's two candidates, Mitt Romney is the one vastly more qualified to turn up the wick on our stagnant economy. And yet, he had his hat and walking papers handed to him because, it turns out, most people don't vote based on only one issue.
By being elitist and arrogant, "we" turned off both the middle- and lower-classes who, not coincidentally, constitute the bulk of the electorate. By insisting on the wrongness and inexcusability of gay marriage, "we" not only turned off the 10-15% of the population that is gay or lesbian, but also the huge portion of the population that is young and/or sympathetic to gay people.
By insisting that abortion should be illegal and Roe vs Wade overturned, "we" turned off the women. And, by being passionately against any kind of immigration reforms, "we" turned off the fastest-growing portion of the American population, Latinos and Hispanics.
What I want to know, in all seriousness, is: For what?
When Todd Akin publicly said, "...If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down...," or when Richard Mourdock said, "...even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, ...it is something that God intended to happen," you, the leaders of the Republican party, should have cut them loose. Just said to yourselves, and to us, "they are a cancerous growth on our party and we're pulling all support in a very public way."
If, in response to both of those, Mitt Romney had said, "that is both ignorant and wrong and I cannot endorse someone so wrong-minded," we would have lost those two seats--which we did anyway--but it would have done worlds of good not only for Romney's chances with women but with a lot of others of us, too.
Except, of course, he didn't. Instead, he shuffled around it, no doubt in great part because that's what he was told to do. We still lost the seats, but Romney's actions, by implication, defined him to be as much of an idiot on women's issues as Akin and Mourdock.
And, that's just one example of many.
It is long past time for the leaders of the Republican party to wake up, look around, and see what an incredible mess they have created for us all. No longer is this a country driven merely by the wants of rich white men. Today, more than ever, we are a multi-cultural blend of the best and worst the world has to offer.
There is a whole country out there that is about social justice, personal freedom, and the rights of individuals. And, unlike even a decade ago, there is no escaping immediate and ubiquitous social communications throughout all strata of the society. If you're an idiot, it will be found out both quickly and publicly.
The people of this country, as am I, are, on the whole, appalled by the vast majority of the positions and actions taken by this party. We remain moderately loyal, simply because of this party's conservative fiscal policies.
But it won't last much longer.
This party has lost all touch with the people of the United States. I'm not talking about the people of the United States back in 1950, I'm talking about the people of today's United States, and it is high time to re-evaluate and reconnect.
Get to work, boys, before it's too late.