“Pious Baloney” and the Republican Party
I’m a Republican. In fact, I knew I was Republican before I knew I was Polish, thanks to Sr. Cleo who asked her first grade class if they knew who their parents were going to vote for when John F. Kennedy was running for President. Who said church-based schools were apolitical and children too young to know where their parents’ allegiances lay.
Fast forward to late 2011. I’m sitting in the office of my optometrist, a traditional North Shore liberal Democrat, who knows my background and affiliation (we always talk politics in between eye charts.) On this occasion, he looks at me and says, “what happened to my party?” I respond, “so, you don’t recognize yours, either, eh?”
I read several conservative websites on a daily basis, and occasionally participate with posts and/or comments. The more I read, the more convinced I become that Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon by whom all others are measured, was an anomaly. If you look at Reagan and his record, were he alive today, he’d never survive the vetting gauntlet by the Party’s conservative base.
The Democrats have their Obama liberal wing, and the Republicans, well, we have websites like RedState, for example. I read the site’s commentary on a daily basis, and actively post some of my viewpoints. One day I used the phrase, “God helps those who help themselves” in a reply comment. Whoa! I was called out by one of the readers as being a “blasphemer”, because that phrase was not in the Bible. By the time she was done with me, I knew more Bible verses than Sr. Cleo ever taught.
This post is not about RedState or its vociferous, active community, because we happen to share the belief we’re at a critical, pivotal juncture in our country’s history, philosophically and fiscally. I part company, when people start defining, and dismissing, candidates based upon some “true conservative” litmus test, whatever that is. In other words, if you’ve been deemed a moderate “reach across the aisle” a la Simpson-Bowles, by their definition, or worse yet, a “RINO”, you need not apply.
I’ve personally experienced the dumb-founded “you’ve got to be kidding me” reaction when the Party establishment/rank and file chose candidates like Bob Dole in ’96, and most recently, John McCain in ’08. But I still felt philosophically akin to aspects of Republican dogma, and that there was toleration of all party factions. Now, with these ongoing debates and follow-up commentary, I see this “who’s the real conservative” vetting process, that not only has risked keeping other experienced, potential candidates sidelined, but risks alienating and bewildering another core base of the Party, whose support and ‘get out the vote’ efforts will be needed if the White House is to be regained in 2012. And it’s 2012 when we have the most to gain, or lose.