Dreaming of Pat
by Dennis L. Sanders
I miss Pat Buchanan.
Okay, I have not made a switch to the far right. I have spent my time trying to fight people like Buchanan. But, I miss
the way he was able to throw a money wrench in the GOP machine and get them to for on issues he thought were important. He
weakened the elder Bush's shot at a second term. In 1976, Ronald Regan, then simply an ex-governor, ran a campaign to the
right of President Ford and caused a ruckus at the Kansas City Convention that year. Again, Regan and his conservative allies
felt they had something to talk about gummed up the process to make a point.
As the 2004 Presidential race takes off, I'm wondering why there is no challenge for the current President Bush. Many commentators
and journalists think that Republicans are unified behind President Bush, but that's not true. They are only talking to the
party activists, which of course these days tend to be the most conservative folk. I've heard a fair amount of disgust concerning
Bush from Republicans of all stripes, including moderate, "Rockefeller Republicans" to Old Right Republicans or "paleo-conservatives."
Many are upset at the war in Iraq and how the adminstration does not seem to care that we are running deficits again.
What surprising is that there is no person that is listening to that disgust and rising to face Bush. No John McCain. No
Chuck Hagel. No Susan Collins. There is not even a draft movement out there.
This lack of uprising has left many disgruntled Republicans supporting Democrats like former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. But
I don't think I'm the only one who would like to see a Republican challenge the President.
So why is there a lack of revolt right now?
I think there are a few reasons. First, it's not easy these days for mavericks to disagree. The neoconservatives have taken
over the party and like their Marxist ancestors, they don't tolerate disagreement. Moderates who are pro-choice or who may
think tax cuts are too large may get attacked by groups like the Club for Growth. Arlen Specter is facing a primary challange
from a conservative congressman because he is departing from the party line. Olympia Snowe was castigated as a "Franco-Republican"
for wanting a smaller tax cut than what people like the Club for Growth or Grover Norquist want. These days, the GOP is more
and more resembling the Communist Party of old complete with the recquisite purges when people do not agree. The liberal bumper-sticker
that says, "Vote Republican, it's easier than thinking," is sadly not far off the mark.
The second reason, is that moderates are not really fighters. We moderates by nature tend to be people that want to seek
consensus, we are not true believers. The right wing ideologues, like their left-wing friends, tend to be fighters because
they believe their viewpoint is the only valid one. As a friend once told me, "Conservatives go to the caucus, moderates
go to the theatre."
This doesn't mean that moderates have never risen to the challenge. In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt decided to challange his former
Vice President and hand picked succesor, President Howard Taft. Taft favored business interests more than Roosevelt ever did,
undoing Roosevelt's work as President in standing up for the common man. He challenged Taft for the nomination and lost.
Then Roosevelt left the party and ran againt Taft. The short term result was not good. All the infighting led to the White
House going to the Democrats. The problem with challengers is that it does lead to the incumbent losing power. That's what
happened to President Ford in 1976 and President Bush in 1992. But while it maybe detrimental in the short run, it can have
lasting effects in the long run. Regan may have helped make Ford and ex-President, but it set the stage for his own presidency
and the rightward turn of the party.
The GOP as it stands now is a party that has become corrupted in many eyes. What if someone ran to the left of Bush, talking
about national concerns and stressing fiscal responsibility? What if this person ran a McCain-like campaign that ran on themes
of national service and against entreched interests? That person might cause Bush to lose, but it may set the stage for rebuilding
the moderate wing of the party.
I think it's time for someone to take charge. Maybe start a draft so and so campaign. Anyone brave enough?
To contact Brian please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cracks in the Wall - 2003-06-02
For months, indeed years, the Bush administration has been protected from effective criticism by a wall of "national security".
After all, the nation was "at war". Our risk level was high. Everyone must rally behind the president!
I have written several times on this site about how I believe that the Republican Party faces impending disaster by our
connection with the policies of this administration. Unfortunately, the "wall of silence" has been very effective, especially
within the Republican Party.
However, the time which I have been worrying about for months seems to be arriving - the time when all of the Bush administration's
foreign policy mistakes (or outright deceptions?) come home to roost. The question is whether our Republican party can run
away fast enough to avoid getting caught in the ruin. Is it still possible for another candidate to be nominated for the 2004
In no particular order...
Crack #1: Mis-treatment of arrestees.
It is always a bad sign when a department rejects the conclusions of its own Inspector General's office. You would expect
the department to at least feign contrition and make empty promises of change... I'm afraid this will be a damaging issue.
See the Department of Justice's Inspector General's Report here.
Crack #2: Lies, Part I
The story in US News & World Reports about Colin Powell's United Nations speech, and how he rejected most of what the White
House wanted him to say as being unverified or even "bullshit". What he finally said in front of the Security Council was
only the tip of the iceberg
Crack #3: Lies, Part II
As to what Colin Powell and others did say in public - where is the evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction? And why are
we still looking instead of cutting our losses and admitting we were wrong? How did the administration come to be so far off
on its assessments? The vultures are gathering: the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Sen. Bob Graham, and numerous media outlets. Sen. Warner (R) of Virginia is prodding the administration forward by calling
for an investigation - maybe he can show America that some Republicans still care about truth. I saw an article in the latest
Economist calling for UN inspectors to be called in and questioning the whole administration line. If a not-so-liberal
English business/news magazine is calling for blood, the end is near. The problem for the administration is that they dug
themselves a deep hole before the war, and have continued to dig themselves deeper. Can anyone outside of Paul Wolfowitz's office still believe that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons ready to fire at any recent point in time? More disturbingly,
did anyone in Paul Wolfowitz's office ever believe that?
Here are some additional links to columns and articles questioning the Bush line on WMDs pre-war: A column by the defense correspondent at the BBC. Newsweek's story on the MSNBC site. Michael Duffy in Time.
Crack #4: Iran, the Next Target?
So, is Iran to be the Next Target, the next reason why America must remain in a state of war? They are next alphabetically
in the Axis of Evil. The problem here is that convincing Americans and the world that Iran is an imminent threat to the US
and the world is going to be a very tough sell. Why? To begin with, Iran is Shiite Moslem, Al Qaeda is Sunni Moslem - accusing
Iran of connections with Al Qaeda is like accusing the Pope of backing the Protestant extremists in Belfast - not bloody likely.
Iran does certainly back Hezbollah in Lebanon, but selling the idea of Hezbollah as a bunch of wild terrorists is going to
be tough in the Arab world. If you define them purely as a terrorist group, then you pretty much have to define all armed
Arab resistance to Israel as terrorism. That isn't going to be convincing anywhere in the world except maybe in the US. Iran
is also presently run by a freely-elected government that is widely regarded as being secularizing and reform-minded. Admittedly
they don't have complete control over the Iranian security apparatus, but that is quite obviously something the reformers
are working on. Pushing Iran hard from outside can only strengthen hard-line religious elements in the country and make Iran
less cooperative - and most observers outside the administration realize this, the struggle between reform and hard-line elements
in Iran having been in the news for years. And the longer the US continues to insist that weapons of mass destruction will
be found in Iraq, the less Bush administration accusations about Iran's nuclear program are going to be believed, either internationally
or even in the US. There has turned up not a whit of evidence that Iraq was developing nuclear capability in recent years,
and the Bush administration it appears has stopped even claiming that Iraq had an active program.
Crack #5: Overselling the War
The Pentagon and the administration did a fabulous job of making American troops look good and get favorable coverage during
the war. "Embedding" reporters was a brilliant concept, and may have produced both more favorable and more accurate coverage.
However, it has emerged that at several points during the war incidents were "managed" to the point of actual deceit, apparently
in an effort to build public support for the war. Two such incidents that have been widely reported on since were the "rescue"
of Pvt. Jessica Lynch and the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad.
A story on the BBC site challenges almost every part of the Pvt. Jessica Lynch "rescue" story. Pvt. Lynch's Iraqi doctor
says that her injuries were consistent with a truck accident, not combat. Two days before the "rescue", the doctors attempted
to return her to American lines, and the ambulance was turned away. The Americans were told by multiple sources that there
were no Iraqi troops or guards in the town or at the hospital, but still chose to perform a dramatic - and disruptive - nightraid
"commando raid" to remove her. Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean has recently called for the release of the full
videotape of the "rescue", but it looks like "national security" will prevent that...
Here is the transcript of the full BBC program, and the shorter BBC online article.
The statue toppling story looks like a much more hastily arranged farce. Pictures show that the "Iraqi mob" pulling down
the statue was in fact a group of about 100-150 people, filling only a fraction of the giant plaza, watching an American tank
pull the statue down. The plaza was blocked off by American tanks. This and other evidence leads to the conclusion that the
statue toppling was in fact originally intended as a ceremony in front of a picked group of Iraqi exiles and locals.
(Eyewitness accounts and news pictures seem to indicate that many of the people were members of Chalabi's exile group.) Apparently
some participants believed that the American flag briefly draped over the statue was in fact a flag that was flying at the
Pentagon on 9-11 - a flag which clearly would have been flown in for ceremonial use. (See the BBC report here, for example.) At the last minute the event was repackaged as being spontaneous. See the story with pictures here. Here is a column by a sharp-eyed Canadian columnist who remarked the next day on how few people had been involved. This is an eyewitness account, an interview on Australian television with an Australian minister and peace activist who saw the
statue go down.
- Brian Youmans, a Republican in Boston, MA
By Dennis L. Sanders
Conservatives are supposed to believe in order. We supposedly believe that if we work hard we will be rewarded for our diligence. That is the mark of a true conservative, isnt?
To be sure and steady and in the end, like the slow turtle, we will win the race?
Tell that to James Saxon.
James Saxon is starting his ninth term in Congress. He was in line to become head of the House Resources Committee. This is the committee that deals with vital environmental policy such as the management of federal lands. Since Saxon was the most senior Republican on the committee, tradition holds he should
have received the chair. Nope.
Western Republicans were wary of having a northeasterner
from New Jersey have control of this committee, especially one who had a fairly decent environmental record. So, Saxon had to end up falling on his sword. He bowed out
of the race. In his place, the GOP chose Richard Pombo, a five-term congressman from California to head the committee.
One has to wonder what Republicans were smoking
when they chose Pombo. According to the League of Conservation Voters, Pombo
received a whopping 9% rating on their Scorecard. Saxon had a more robust 59%.
Pombo has said that he is going to look at proposing
common-sense environmental policy. Common sense.
Yeah, right. If you live
in Bizzaro World.
Is there something uncommon about clean water?
Clean air? Is there something uncommon about preserving our national lands so
that future generations of Americans can enjoy them?
This move is a betrayal of conservative principles.
Instead of rewarding hard work and perserverance, the GOP now rewards those who think a like.
Instead of respecting institutional tradition, they make a mockery of it by supporting only those who see things their
Conservatism, unlike our leftist friends, has
always been a more pragmatic movement. But sadly, it is become more and more
dogmatic. There is only one way to do something and if you disagree, then you
are painted as suspect to the conservative cause. That kind of conservatism has
more to do with the old doctrinaire communism than it does with the conservatism of people like Theodore Roosevelt and Winston
In a recent episode of the Simpsons,
a group of Republicans somehow take over environmental policy and end up polluting the environment and paving the forest like
crazy. Sadly, this is how many people think of the GOP when it comes to conservation. Whats even sadder is that it seems like the party doesnt seem to care.
Some Comments on Conservative Principles and Philosophy
By the Rt. Honourable Robert Stanfield, 1974
Editors Note: Robert Stanfield was the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
during the mid-1970s.
We must start with some fundamentals. This may seem rather remote
from present day politics and it may very well involve us in more that one such session of discussion, but this kind of beginning
is essential if we are to consider principles as opposed to political tactics for the short term. I have put down a few points
for your consideration. Please excuse the rough edges.
We are not now discussing the platform of the party. This program
should be consistent with our principles, but it is a set of proposals designed to deal with the problems and issues of the
moment, rather than a statement of principles. And of course, it is also intended to gain support in a given situation.
I must emphasize, too, that we not now discussing the extent to
which we in our party should be positive with regard to issues and problems of the day, as opposed to being critical of government
policies on these issues and problems. This question is an important question but it is a matter of tactics, rather than a
matter of party principles.
We are therefore discussing principles: what we do or should stand
for through the years.
First I would like to make a few comments on the role of political
parties such as ours in Canada. Not only is it unnecessary for political parties to disagree about everything but some acceptance
of common ground among the major parties is essential to an effective and stable democracy.
For example, it is important to stability that all major parties agree on such matters as parliamentary responsible
government and major aspects of our constitution.
I would like to emphasize too, that in the British tradition, political
parties are not doctrinaire. Walter Bagehot, who wrote a famous book on the British Constitution in the 19th Century,
set out to explain in an essay why France had unstable government and Britain has stable government. He joked about this,
suggesting that it was simply a matter of French being more intelligent. Every self-respecting Frenchman, Bagehot said, developed
his own personal philosophy, and if he found three or four others who agreed with him he formed a political party; whereas
in Britain a Conservative was quite content to support his party as long as the Earl of Derby (who was then the leader of
the party) attended the annual picnic, and a liberal was quite content as long as Mr. Gladstone attended the annual picnic.
Bagehot made the point that because French political parties were
based upon doctrine they tended to divide the country and found it very difficult to work together. Consequently, government
in France was likely to be unstable. In Britain, on the other hand, doctrine was relatively unimportant to political parties,
and because of the tradition of consensus and compromise in Britain, stable government was the rule.
It seems to me that Bagehot, while exaggerating to make his point,
had an important point to make. In our parliamentary tradition, which is substantially the British tradition, parties have
a unifying role to play. For example, the British Conservative Party has always tried to appeal to Britons in all walks of
life because it felt that it represented Britons in all walks of life. There are, of course, time when stands must be taken
which will seriously divide the country. However, a truly national political party has a continuing role to try to pull things
together: achieve a consensus, resolve conflicts, strengthen the fabric of society and work towards a feeling of harmony in
the country. Success in this role is, I suggest, essential is a party is to maintain a string position in this country. This
role of a national political party, and success in this role, are particularly important in countries as vast and diverse
as Canada and the United States.
It is partly because of this that I do not favour the Manning thesis
which urges polarization of political view points in this country. In Canada a party such as ours has a harmonizing role to
play, both horizontally in terms of resolving conflicts between regions, and vertically in terms of resolving conflicts between
Canadians in different walks of life. It is not a matter of a national party being all things to all people this would never
work. But a national party should appeal to all parts of the country and to Canadians in all walks of life, if it is to serve
this essential role, and if it is to remain strong.
Turning now to the consideration of the Conservative Party as such,
I would not wish to exaggerate the concern of British Conservatives through the years with principles or theory. After all,
they were practicing politicians for the most part, pragmatists dealing with problems, and of course, politicians seeking
success. There are, however, some threads we can follow through the years. I am, of course, not suggesting that we in Canada
should follow British principles or practices slavishly. Nor would I argue that our party in Canada has followed a consistent
pattern. I believe it has frequently wandered far from the conservative tradition that I believe to be valuable, and conservative
principles I accept.
British Conservative thinkers traditionally stressed the importance
of order, not merely law and order, but social order. This does not mean that they were opposed to freedom for the individual;
far from it. They believe that a decent civilized life requires a framework of order.
Conservatives did not take that kind of order for granted. It seemed
to them quite rare in the world and therefore quite precious. This is still the case. Conservatives attached importance to
the economy and to enterprise and to property, but private enterprise was not the central principle of traditional British
conservatism. Indeed the supreme importance of private enterprise and the undesirability of government initiative and interference
was Liberal 19th Century doctrine. It was inherited from Adam Smith and was given its boldest political statement
by such Liberals as Cobden and Bright. It was they who preached the doctrine of the unseen hand with practically no reservation.
The conservative concept of order encouraged conservative governments
to impose restrictions on private enterprise where this was considered desirable. We all studied William Wilberforce and his
factory legislation when we were in school. These were logical measures for Conservatives to adopt; to protect the weak against
the excesses of private enterprise and greed. That is good traditional conservatism, fully consistent with traditional conservative
principles. It is also good Conservatism not to push regulation too far to undermine self-reliance.
Because of the central importance Conservatives attached to the
concept of order they naturally favoured strong and effective government, but on the other had they saw a limited or restricted
role for government for several reasons: because a highly centralized government is quite susceptible to arbitrary exercise
of power and also to attack and decentralization of power. National government had to be countervailing centers of power and
influence. In the past, these might consist of church or the landed gentry or some other institution. Today in Canada, the
provinces, trade unions, farm organizations, trade associations and the press would serve as examples.
In the middle of the last century a very able Frenchman named de
Toqueville explained why France had had a succession of revolutions following 1789, whereas the United Stated had had stable
government and had been free of revolutions for many years. De Toquevilles explanation was the decentralization of government
in the United States as compared to the highly centralized government of France. All one had to do to gain complete power
in France was to capture the central government at Versailles, whereas in the United States the power of Washington was limited
by the decentralization of power and authority. Consequently, there was no easy target for revolution in the United States.
Another reason why Conservatives traditionally saw a limited role
for government was because Conservatives were far from being Utopians. They adopted basically a Judeo-Christian view of the
world. It might be an exaggeration to say that they saw the world as a vale of tears. They certainly saw the world as a very
imperfect place, capable of only limited improvement; and man as an imperfect being. They saw evil as an on-going force that
would always be present in changing form. It would therefore not have surprised Edmund Burke that economic growth; and government
policies were supposed to overcome.
A third reason for Conservatives taking a limited view of the role
of government was that men such as Edmund Burke regarded mans intelligence as quite limited. Burke was very much impressed
by how little man understood what was going on around him. He pushed this thought very far surely much too far in his famous
protest against the French revolution when he argued against any fundamental constitutional change on the grounds that constitutions
such as the British and French constitutions had been developed through the ages, incorporating the wisdom and the experience
of the race. Burke questioned whether any one generation really had the intelligence to understand fully the reasons for existing
institutions or to pass judgment on those institutions which were the product of the ages. Burke pushed this idea much too
far, but Conservatives have traditionally recognized how limited human intelligence really is, and consequently have recognized
that success in planning the lives of other people or the life of the nation is likely to be limited. Neither government nor
its bureaucracy are as wise as they are apt to believe. Humility is a valuable strain in Conservatism, provided it does not
become an excuse for resisting change, accepting injustice or supporting vested interests.
I have emphasized the stress British Conservatism placed through
the years on the importance of order and stability, and some of the implications of this: active and effective government
is vitally important, and government initiative and regulations necessary, politicians should recognize their limitations.
There is another important strain to traditional Conservatism. Conservatism
is national in scope and purpose. This implies a string feeling for the country, its institutions and its symbols; but also
a feeling for all the country and for all the people in the country. The Conservative Party serves the whole country and a;;
the people, not simply part of the country and certain categories of people.
In past days when there was a rigid class structure this might well
have involved each one keeping his place in society, but nevertheless government was for all the people according to the lights
of the time.
Social conditions have changed, but the national scope of Conservatism
(both vertical and horizontal) is still an essential aspect of Conservative philosophy. Economic policy was and is subservient
to national objectives in this full sense of the word national. Liberalism traditionally emphasized the individual and opposed
the subservience of the economy to national political objectives and purposes.
I suggest that it is in the Conservative tradition to expand the
concept of the order and give it a fully contemporary meaning. The concept of order always included some concept of security
for the unfortunate, although the actual program may have been quite inadequate by our present day standards.
The concept of order certainly includes the preservation of our
environment. And the concept of order, linked to Conservative concern for the country as a whole, certainly includes concern
For a Conservative in the Conservative tradition which I have described,
there is much more to national life than simply increasing the size of the Gross National Product. A Conservative naturally
regards a healthy economy as of great importance, but increasing the size of the Gross National Product is not in itself a
sufficient goal for a civilized nation, according to a Conservative. A health economy is obviously important, but a Conservative
will be concerned abut the effects of economic growth what this does to our environment; what kind of living conditions it
creates, what is its effect; on the countryside, what is its effect on our cities; whether all parts of the nation benefit
or only some parts of the nation, and whether a greater feeling of justice and fairness and self-fulfillment results from
this growth, thereby strengthening the social order and improving the quality of national life.
I am not trying in this paper to gather together all the strands
of Conservative thought or to fill in details, but rather to mention some aspects of Conservative thinking which I believe
are frequently overlooked or misunderstood in the day-to-day activities of our party. While I, as leader of the party, have
stressed economic problems and economic issues, there is clearly a great deal more to Conservatism than particular economic
We would all do well to read deeply of the life of Sir John A. Macdonald.
There we will see exemplified the principles that I have been discussing. There, incidentally, we will see these principles
applied with great political success.
This paper may not help you to state ten or twelve points on which
Conservatives differ from Liberals. I have emphasized that a party such as ours, if it is to do its job fully, must attract
Canadians of different walks of life. Its principles must be spacious enough to permit these Canadians of different backgrounds,
interests and therefore points of view, to live together within the party, reasonably comfortably, arguing out their differences
and achieving a consensus on which the party can act. Any particular economic dogma is not a principle of our party, fond
as most Conservatives may be of that particular dogma at any particular time.
At any given time our party is likely to contain those whose natural
bent is reform and those whose natural bent is to stand pat or even to try to turn the clock back a bit. I think it is fair
to say that Conservative statesmen we respect most were innovators. They did not change Conservative principles, but within
those principles they faced and met the challenges of their time.
Traditional Liberalism started with the individual, emphasizing
liberty of the individual and calling for a minimum of government interference with the individual. Conservatives, on the
other hand, emphasized the nation, society, stability and order.
In this century, Liberals have resorted to the use of government
more and more. Today big government and liberalism are synonymous in Canada. A Liberal in Canada now much more nearly than
formerly approximates what is called a liberal in the United States a progressive who believes strongly in government activity
to enlarge the protection and the freedom of the ordinary citizen.
Some Conservatives, on the other hand, want to move to the old individualistic
position of the 19th Century liberalism enshrining private enterprise as the most fundamental principle of our
party, and condemning all government interference. The Conservative tradition has been to interfere only where necessary,
but to interfere only where necessary to achieve social and national objectives. Conservatives favour incentives, where appropriate,
rather than big stick.
Of course, it has always been and remains important to Conservatives
to encourage individual self-reliance; and certainly red tape and regulation have today gone too far, especially in the case
of small business. Self-reliance and enterprise should be encouraged, but Conservatism does not place private enterprise in
a central position around which everything else revolves.
Conservatism recognized the responsibility of government to restrain
or influence individual action where this was in the interests of society. Whether a government should or should not intervene
was always a question of judgment, of course, but the Conservative tradition recognized the role of government as the regulator
of individual conduct in the interests of society.
I would not assert that Conservatives always saw society as a whole
and never sought to preserve a particular form of society vested interests, if you like. I do not wish to make any exaggerated
claims about the virtue of Conservatives; I am speaking rather about Conservative principles in the Conservative tradition.
Nor would I suggest that Conservatives have tried or would try to
build a radically different society from that which they have known. But to reform and adapt existing institutions to meet
changing conditions, and to work towards a more just and therefore a truly more stable society this I suggest is in the best
Conservative tradition. Resistance to changes and the support of privilege has been a part of the behaviour of Conservatives
from time to time, but neither is nor ought to be Conservative principle.
The emphasis on the nation as a whole, on order, in the Conservative
tradition that I have described, was surely seldom more relevant than it is today, with inflation raging and life becoming
more and more a matter of every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. We see increasing stresses and strains in
our society, wildcat strikes, increasing distrust and mounting tension and violence.
This is a period when true Conservative principles of order and
stability should be most appealing. Principles of conservation and preservation are also high in the minds of many Canadians
today, and a Conservative can very legitimately and on sound historical ground associate with these. Again I emphasize that
these kind of bedrock principles are national in scope and reflect an overriding concern for society at large.
Enterprise and initiative are obviously important; but will emphasis
upon individual rights solve the great problems of the day; I mean the maintenance of acceptable employment, and an acceptable
distribution of income. Would we achieve these goals today by a simple reliance on the free market, if we could achieve a
It would certainly be appropriate for a Conservative to suggest
that we must achieve some kind of order if we are to avoid chaos; an order which is stable, but not static; an order therefore
which is reasonably acceptable and which among other things provides a framework in which enterprise can flourish. That would
be in the Conservative tradition. The methods and the specific programs appropriate to achieve these goals of course lie outside
the scope of this paper. (Incidentally, I am not abandoning out name Progressive Conservative although I use the shorthand
Conservative in this paper.)
By Dennis Sanders
Ten years ago, I was living in Washington, DC
doing what most people in the twenties do in DCworking as an intern. It was a
volatile time in my life. I was in the midst of coming out as a gay man and I
was appalled with how the Republican Party was treating gays and lesbians. Even
though politically, I reflected the moderate wing of the GOP, I wanted nothing to do with the party.
One day, while working with a group dealing
with Central American issues, I noticed that there was a Republican that was we had contact with. I was quite interested in this person. I found out that it
was Connie Morella, who represented Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of the nations capital.
In the years that I was in DC, I found out this
Republican cared about the environment, abortion rights and gay rights. She was
living proof that the Rockefeller Republican was still alive and well. My discovery
that there were Republicans like Morella, started me on a journey towards making the GOP my political home.
Morella lost her reelection campaign in a tight
campaign against a Democrat this year. Her opponent stated that Morellas first
votes would be for people like Tom Delay. Never mind that these were procedural
votes and after all, she is a Republican. The Dems made a big mistake in taking
her on. Yes, they have one of their own in the House, but Morella was a moderate
who could work with Democrats on issues ranging from the environment to gay rights.
That would have been needed with the stronger GOP majority. Yes, this
Democratic district now has one of their own, but he will have very little power to change anything.
Also, picking on a moderate means that the Democrats
have made the GOP that much more conservative and polarized. The continued polarization
of the political parties does not advance the work of the people, but tangles it up.
As Representative Morella leaves public office
for her next stage in life, I would like to say, thanks for keep the spirit of Lincoln alive. Godspeed, Ms. Morella.