Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Great Imposters

According to conventional wisdom, there are three things you should never talk about in polite company, sex, politics, and religion. I'm about to address all three. I'm not going to be coarse, crude, or offensive, but I will be direct. Some readers may not like what I have to say, and a few might even take offense. Know in advance, that is not my intent, and read on if you choose.

You're welcome to agree or disagree and leave comments. Comments are moderated, but as long as the comments are civil (no name calling, insults, blaming, or demonstrably false information), I will allow them whether I agree with them or not. Remember, this is my soapbox, and your right to free speech does not mean I have to allow you to use my soapbox to say it. Be civil, or it won't be allowed here.

Let me start with I've never been a member of any political party. My views are most closely aligned with the Libertarian Party, but not completely because most Libertarians actually want (in my view) too little government. However, given that the nature of government is to grow, take more power, take more money, and become too intrusive, I welcome people fighting for "too little" govt as it helps counteract the natural tendency of bureaucracy. But this post isn't about the Libertarian Party.

This post is about the modern Republican Party, the GOP.

Most of my life, I've tended to side with the Grand Old Party on many issues, in large part because, despite the existence of several minor parties, most offices have don't have a minor party candidate running, so the choice is often between a Republican and a Democrat. On many issues, the GOP has been more closely aligned with my beliefs than the Democratic Party. That's not to say that I haven't supported and voted for numerous Democrats and more than a few minor party candidates, I have. I have always voted for candidates, not political parties.

Once upon a time, the GOP actually stood for some good things. See, many years ago, they actually believed in less government and individual liberty. According to Wikipedia:
American conservatism of the Republican Party is not wholly based upon rejection of the political ideology of liberalism, as many principles of American conservatism are based upon classical liberalism.

Founded in Northern States in 1854 by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs and ex-Free Soilers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the dominant Democratic Party...

"Free labor" referred to the Republican opposition to slave labor and belief in independent artisans and businessmen. "Free land" referred to Republican opposition to plantation system whereby the rich could buy up all the good farm land and work it with slaves, leaving the yeoman independent farmers the leftovers. The Party had the goal of containing the expansion of slavery, which would cause the collapse of the Slave Power and the expansion of freedom.

The GOP supported business generally, hard money (i.e., the gold standard), high tariffs to promote economic growth, high wages and high profits, generous pensions for Union veterans...
Classical liberalism is the philosophy committed to the ideal of limited government, constitutionalism, rule of law, due process, and liberty of individuals including freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and free markets.

Once upon a time, they had sound fiscal policies, and fought for individuals, and less government, and small business, and farmers. That Republican Party no longer exists. The current Republican Party bears little resemblance to that GOP. They call themselves conservatives, but that's only a half-truth, they're reactionaries.

The Republicans' attempt to write religious beliefs into law at the federal level is a full fledged assault on the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That guarantee of freedom of religion, also guarantees everyone else freedom from your religion. That applies to the current assaults on access to birth control, abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and others. Your rights end where they start to infringe on the rights of others. If you don't understand and honor that concept, you are not qualified to hold elected office in this country.

If you're opposed to using birth control, abortion, modern medicine, modern electric/electronic conveniences, or working on the Sabbath (whichever day you consider that to be), you have a right to hold that belief. Likewise, if you believe in abstinence only as "sex education", no pre-marital sex, and the teaching of creation (in church or church schools), that is your right. If you're an atheist or agnostic, that is your right. What you do not have a right to do is force others to abide by those beliefs.
"Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is." - Bruce Bartlett, former Economic Advisor to President Reagan.

The fundamentalist Republicans' attempts to outlaw abortion, or to make it more traumatic (it's already very traumatic for the woman) for women, attempts to make birth control harder to obtain, attempts to teach creation in public (e.g. taxpayer funded) schools, animosity toward and denial of benefits to homosexuals, and other such attempts to force their religious views on everyone are unconscionable. They have simultaneously abandoned all compassion and offers of aid to those in need (in direct violation of the teachings of the Bible they cite as their guide), while citing that same Bible as "proof" of the moral superiority of their views on these topics. They have perverted the Republican Party into an instrument to impose their religious beliefs on everyone. This faction of the Republican Party (which includes much of the leadership of the GOP) is not morally superior, they're morally bankrupt.

If you believe in the things this country and/or the Republican Party were founded upon, then search your conscience and see whether or not you can allow these imposters to continue to distort everything this country and the GOP were founded to support.

This power grab by the fundamentalists has been going on for far too long. I have fought against it, I have denounced it, and in some ways, I've overlooked it, while hoping it would improve. I'm sorry I waited so long. I can no longer tolerate this corruption of our government for their own purposes, and I can no longer grant them the use of the term Republican Party.

It's time we demand that these imposters stop calling themselves Republicans. The party leaders and beliefs they espouse are a disgrace to the legacy and beliefs of the founders of the Republican Party, and to the founders of our country. I don't know what I'll call them, perhaps we should just call them "The Great Imposters".

Reform the Republican Party, or end it, but don't let this faction destroy everything it once stood for, and what this country stands for.

A brief note: From a strict constitutional perspective, states may have the power to make laws regarding religion, however, they have that power only by agreement of the residents of that state, it's not an inherent power of the state. I am personally opposed to granting states that power, yet there is nothing in the US Constitution to prohibit it. Perhaps there should be, but it's not there now. That's a subject for another discussion. See the NYT Op-Ed in the related links section below.

Related links:

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