Before I knew who the candidates would be in 2008, before I decided who to vote for in the First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary, I decided to vote for the Democratic nominee.
I’m an independent voter, undecided so far in the presidential primary. But at what the media laugably call the “start of the political season,” I’ve chosen a party because I am deeply concerned about the country’s future, and the importance of this election.
(It’s laughable to call the Labor Day Weekend before the Iowa Caucuses and the First-in-the-Nation Presidental Primary the start of the political season, because the presidential campaign has been going full steam in NH for more than a year already.)
All Republican candidates but one are pandering to people who claim that their most uncharitable political beliefs come to directly from God. Rudy Giuliani thinks he is God. They all kow-tow to Rush Limbaugh.
Barry Goldwater, who moved conservatism into the political mainstream in 1964, said before he died that conservative evangelical Christians are turning his inclusive, secular Republican Party with Main Street values into an exclusive religious organization with Wall Street values.
No national Republican candidate will get my vote this year. I will vote for a Democrat in the primary and support the Democratic nominee in November.
As an independent voter who voted for Ronald Reagan and for George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis, I am so angry with the Republicans today I could spit! Let me count the ways, in no particular order, leaving out the Iraq war because Congressional Democrats and the media were complicit in that fiasco:
1. For the first time in 80 years, mine disasters have increased. George W. Bush put the mine owners’ lobbyist in charge of the mine safety agency a few years ago, then weakened safety rules and reduced the number of inspectors and inspections. Even the Republican Congress refused to approve this man, so Bush appointed him during a congressional recess.
2. Bush and his corrupt friends in Congress (remember Tom DeLay?) handed the public treasury over to their super-rich supporters, while cutting health care for widows, people with disabilities and orphans; food stamps for the working poor; and student loans for the middle class.
3. But then, as Goldwater conservative George Will says, “Conservatives are not supposed to be cuddly. They’re supposed to be competent.”
Which brings us to Hurricane Katrina, Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, planning for post-war Iraq, and Abu Ghraib. “When failure has no price,” Will says, “you get a lot of failure.”
4. The White House has shown contempt for the Constitution. Firing federal prosecutors who refused to go along with the White House political agenda is worse maybe (certainly more unprecedented), than the illegal wiretaps. Today’s candidates say nothing that might anger Bush’s base.
5. Suppressing government scientists whose evidence-based opinions disagree with the Christian Right’s political agenda: stem cells, morning-after birth control, abstinence-only sex education, global warming and environmental safety.
Air and water, public lands and parks, are worsening after years of improvement.
Another Goldwater Republican, David Brooks of the New York Times, suggests that the excesses and incompetence of Republican government since 2000 are extreme but logical outcomes of Ronald Reagan’s dictum that “Government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.”
When Reagan said that in his 1981 inaugural address, Brooks says, taxes, inflation, interest rates, and over-regulation were preventing the economy from generating the wealth we needed to get us out of a sustained, crippling economic and psychological slump.
But today, there is nothing more to deregulate, inflation is controlled, taxes are reasonable, and interest rates have been historically low, maybe too low, for years. Deficits, entitlements, and the national debt are too high, and Bush has made that problem worse with his war and un-funded, open-ended prescription drug entitlement.
Bush has taken “government is the problem” to the extreme: If government is always the problem, what’s the point of governing well, Brooks says.
Why not put your friends on the Supreme Court, in charge of mine safety or emergency management, regardless of their competence? People in government are not patriotic experts and professionals serving their country, just turf-protecting paper-pushers with axes to grind.
So why listen to them? Republicans this year are yearning in vain for another Reagan because 70 percent of the country plainly sees the results of this perverted Reaganism, Brooks says.
Since Reagan earned the power legitimately in 1980, Republicans have held onto it by polarizing the country on “wedge” issues like stem cells, evolution and pledging allegiance. As another great president said, “You can fool all the people some of the time (Iraq), and some of the people all the time (30 percent approval today). But you can’t fool all the people all the time.”
Republicans need to be kicked out this year, like the Democrats in 1980, and forced to earn their way back.