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Facing Washington Avenue
By Dennis L. Sanders

About a month ago, I received an e-mail from Sean Dingman of St. Louis, Missouri. Hes an independent voter with a strong libertarian bent. That should make him a perfect match to ally with the Republicansin theory, that is. He is turned off by the GOPs far-right rhetoric, so he has voted primarily for Democrats, even though they are not always in line with his libertarian views.

He then asked me a question: do I always vote for the GOP despite its sharp right turn? He continue by saying, If your moderate colleagues placed your votes elsewhere, would it not send a strong signal to the party leaders that the radical rights co-opting of the party is not appreciated?


If this tone sounds familiar, thats because contributing writer Mark Kittel wrote pretty much the same thing last month. Both Sean and Mark make sense. Loyalty is not bad virtue to have. However, there are times when loyalty must be sacrificed for a nobler goal.

Sean and Mark's words remind me of the sad case of Collin Powell. Powell has been the shining star among moderates in the GOP. When he has picked to be Secretary of State, I think many moderates rejoiced. With his voice in foreign affairs, we would have a moderate and pragmatic foreign policy.

Well, we know how the story turned out.

Powell was made to carry the Bush Administration's water in the lead up to war with Iraq. His voice of moderation was turned aside for wild-eyed hawks. Powell could have stepped down in protest as Cyrus Vance did during the Carter Administration. However, Powell has stayed on, ever the loyal solider. The Great Moderate Hope is now a laughingstock.

What would have happened if Collin Powell resigned? What if he remembered the lesson of Vietnam and publicly left the administration? For one thing, it would have exposed the Bush foreign policy for what it is: reckless unilateralism.

The wider lesson is that moderates have to stop placing loyalty above all other values. I know that many moderates are disgusted by the loss of fiscal discipline among governing Republicans, as well as the partys embrace of those who want some form of theocracy, and those who are anti-gay. Moderates know the party was not founded on these ideas. We believe in limited government, but that doesnt mean the government is evil. We believe in individual rights, but that doesnt mean that we enshrine selfishness as an ethic. We believe in personal responsibility, but that doesnt mean shunning the poor.

If we are disgusted by such goings-on then maybe we need to send the party a message. Will some brand us as traitors? Yes, but they think we are already since we hold these more moderate views. If people simply vote for the person with the R following their name even when their views violate Republican principles, then we are accomplices to this far-right takeover.

I think the proper course would be to not vote for someone who will not respect Republican principles. If enough of us boycott the far-right, the party leaders will get the message.

Its time to show some courage.

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