Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Why I Might Have Been A Good Republican
To most of the people I talk to "Republican" has become a dirty, dirty word. They seem to want to lay the blame for everything that has gone wrong on the Republican doorstep, and I will admit that there is a slew of nastiness I would accuse our present administration namely of : torture, manipulation, cronyism, mismanagement, and lying, among many other things, but I'm not certain it's all their fault. [It is. --Flannery]
I used to follow politics and the news quite closely as a kid. My Dad bought the paper everyday and read it front to back. He would frequently point out this or that article to me, which I would read, but only after I finished with the comics section. Then we would sit and talk it over. From the Newark Advocate, jokingly referred to as the Aggravate, I learned to read. From Dad, I learned to reason. I can distinctly recall sitting at the dining room table with several sections of the paper spread before us and looking up from an article on some foreign aid bill and asking him what the difference was between the two parties. I knew that the Republicans were represented by the elephant and the Democrats by the donkey, but I didn't know what their particular platforms were.
In Dad's usual way, he sat back in his chair, took his old briar pipe from his lips and blew a plume of blue smoke to the ceiling as he thought about it for a minute. "The Republicans often represent big business, while the Democrats represent the working man."
"Well who do you vote for?" I asked.
He just smiled very big, and with his callused and bruised carpenter hands put his pipe between his teeth and went back to his reading. This Christmas he will have been gone seven years and I still can't bear to read a newspaper.
I was thinking about his simple explanation recently. The Republicans represent big business, but there are a lot of other things that come under their banner. The Republicans, to the best of my knowledge, have always touted that they represent family values. I am all for family values and who wouldn't be? I have a family, you have a family, and wouldn't you want them to have values? I'm just not so certain that what my family values is the same as what their family would value. Often the phrase "family values" is used to include the values of the Christian right. While I count myself as a Christian, we fundamentally differ in our interpretations.
The Republican party has always been friendly with the National Rifle Association. I own a gun and I'm fond of it. I don't own it because I'm planning on holding up a liquor store, shooting a friend in the face while hunting, or defending myself and my family against evildoers. I own a gun because I have a maniacal need to blast a few empty pop cans every few years. Call me a crazy gun nut, but no amount of therapy and jasmine scented oils can provide the feeling of release of seeing four cents of aluminum shredded to the sound of a small bang. I make no excuses for this.
The Republican party has never made any bones over their stance on the death penalty. I like to consider myself as an "enlightened" person and find ending a life abhorrent in all forms, but I think that there are times when you need to put a rabid dog down. I would rather see money spent on a kid to get a hot breakfast and lunch as well as a good education than spend it to keep some creep locked up for seventy years. The creep is going to generate nothing but more trash to fill a landfill with and hog resources we could spend on something worthwhile and contribute nothing, while the child demonstrates nothing but potential and hope.
Don't for a moment think that this is a decision that I arrived at casually. I think I made my mind up after reading Jack London's "The Law of Life", about an old Eskimo man who was blind and had been left to die by his tribe. His son hugs him after the rest have left and shows the old man the small pile of wood next to him for the fire and hikes off. The old man sits and contemplates his position for the rest of the story as he listens to the wolves in the distance. He knows that the tribe can only support so many people and he has become a burden who can contribute nothing, while his new grandson can have the food he would have eaten. He is never angry at being left behind to die, and he remembers leaving behind his own father in the same position he finds himself in and how painful it was to be the son who walks away. In the end, the wolves get him. If we can allow transgressors of our most heinous laws any dignity, let them exit with the knowledge that they make room for someone to do some good in their place [You presume remorse--Flannery] [Yes, yes I do--Doc]. As grievous as the thought of an innocent facing this final judgement is, and such things have happened, in a thorny way it is somewhat comforting to think that the truly guilty have met their fate. The ending of their life in no way makes up for their crime or could ever restore right to the wrong they created, but it does keep them from contributing more wrong. The solution is grossly permanent, distasteful, and should never be applied hastily, but I can see it.
Republicans have backed tax breaks and limited government since their entrance on the political scene. Lincoln was the first candidate for the party and I would be dishonest if I said he was anything less than my hero. Let's be honest, NO ONE LIKES to pay taxes, other than the guy who prepares yours. I would love to pay a small amount to keep the streets paved and clear of snow and assure myself that my kids get a good education, as well as cops and firefighters are plentiful, but I know that I, as a citizen, have to pony up my share. I'm all for keeping the government out of my hair as they have better things to do than screw with me. For instance, rather than tapping my phone line and paying someone good money to monitor Flannery telling me to take the books and movies back to the library as well as how her day is going, why not put this money into funding our struggling school system and help some folks who find their backs against the wall?
To the best of my knowledge, it wasn't that long ago that the Republicans spearheaded a bill to jump start the economy by sending us all a check, only after they had created the biggest debt we have ever known. I won't kid you, I cashed the check while I still could. Didn't you?
The Republicans have always backed a strong but limited central government. They have pursued this since Alexander Hamilton and I can't honestly admit that I have a problem with this, provided that the government delivers on their most basic of promises: to insure peace and domestic tranquility, to provide the services necessary for an enlightened and diverse electorate, to ensure justice, honesty, and equality to all, and to operate on the highest of standards with respect to those they serve and to be accountable for their actions.
Perhaps I missed the memo, but I haven't seen any of this. I have witnessed an administration and a party that has done none of what they promised and has violated many of the things that I hold sacred. I feel betrayed, cheapened, cheated, and short-changed by everything that they have put in place. I am deeply embarrassed by the party of Abraham Lincoln, and I can only hope that another man from Illinois can help to set things straight.
I might have made a good Republican, but the truth of the matter is, I'm just the son of a carpenter, and I can't see it their way.
God Bless America,