Looking for Republican renaissance in defeat…

November 3, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

I’m assuming today that John McCain is going to lose. And it looks as if the Democratic Party will not only win the White House but solid control of the House and Senate.

I do not think that this will mean the death of the Republican Party.

Quite the contrary: I think a McCain loss will mean the renaissance of a proud political party, the party of Abraham Lincoln.

I don’t think the Republican Party will turn liberal. I do think it will move more toward the center.

The center is a good place to be, because as far as I can see it, that is where the electorate has always been, except that it has a funny way of moving ever so slightly to the right or left depending upon the Zeitgeist.

Bill Clinton won his first term because of two things: the spoiling effect of the third party candidacy of Ross Perot and as his campaign manager advised him at the time, “it’s the economy stupid”.

If Obama wins (and do I really have to qualify that with an if?), it will be because of one overriding issue – the economy. Really, I think Mickey Mouse could almost win (and I’m not poking fun at Obama’s big ears) after the collapse of our banking system and the threat of another Great Depression that we are witnessing at the moment. At least the economy is a major part of it all.

Also, I think that McCain sowed the seeds of his anticipated defeat by his careless and cynical selection of Sarah Palin for vice president (and at the very first it seemed so clever). While less than spectacular vice presidential picks don’t always mean a loss – remember Dan Quayle – this time I think that the presidential candidate went too far.

I think McCain picked up a tiger by the tail and it got away from him and came back to bite him in the posterior.

I remember that day he introduced Sara Palin. He hovered over her as if he was ready to control everything she would do or say. That didn’t last long. Oh, sure, she gave a dynamite acceptance speech at the convention, but it was not long before she struck out on her own (well to some extent anyway) and even seemed to be challenging her boss (althought part of that was no doubt the campaign’s strategic attack dog, or should I say pit bull with lipstick, tactic for the VP pick to save the top guy from spoiling his image). And could the McCain campaign have conceived of how dismal she would be in answering questions without a script? Apparently not. And yes, sometimes questions can be unfair — have you ever had what I call a hostile job interview?

As much as I have watched her and read about her, I really don’t know who Sarah Palin is or quite what she is all about (I have a good idea, though). But it seems apparent that at the very least she is not someone you would want to be president of the United States, and that is really the only official duty the VP has, that of being ready to assume that duty at a moment’s notice, well, along with breaking a tie vote in the Senate. Palin has made it painfully plain that she has no grasp of issues and after all these months does not even know what the duties of the vice president are (and how hard is that?They’re the two things I just mentioned). She stated in a recent interview that the VP controls the Senate. Actually, if you’re going by example of the past eight years and Dick Cheney, the VP may indeed control the whole enchilada in a secret and dark way behind the scenes, but we don’t want more of that.

I just read on another blog that there are signs that even white bigots are voting for the black guy this time around (bigotry does not prevent one from voting his or her own self interest – and it is a secret ballot).  And remember all the uproar when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball? Today, redneck sports fans unabashedly cheer on leagues of black players in all sports and go on spouting off their bigotry in their own personal lives as if they saw no irony in that, well heck, they wouldn’t even know what irony means, except that they prefer wives who are irony, as in go iron my shirt.

And even the conservatives are becoming more open-minded. I forget where our VP Cheney officially comes down on gay rights and gay marriage, but I know he and his sometimes critical of the gay lifestyle wife had to hold back a little being as their own daughter is openly gay (I usually avoid using the term “gay” and use “homosexual”, but sometimes that seems pejorative).

Mayor of San Diego Jerry Sanders recently found himself having to do an about face after having come out against gay marriage (there is a ballot measure on the subject in California).

Just as his city council was set to pass a resolution against gay marriage, he announced that he had changed his mind. He said that some friends and members of this family, including his own daughter, were gay.

“… In the end, I couldn’t look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship – their very lives – were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife …”

In my own case, rather than worry about the break in tradition that gay marriage is, I look at it this way: since marriage is a contract sanctioned by government action, it would violate the U.S. Supreme Court’s present interpretation of equal rights to deny marriage to a certain class of people. Brown vs. the Board of Education struck down the previously held position of separate, but equal (such as gays being allowed only civil unions, not marriage would be). Most available evidence, especially the empirical evidence that most of us have within our own families, suggests that gays or homosexuals are a distinct class of people – they were born homosexual.

So, at any rate, conservatives and the Republican Party are adapting, if but ever so slowly.

I think the election of Obama will hasten that transition toward more open-mindedness.

I have never registered Republican, but I feel that we need the Republican Party. We need a loyal opposition to balance out our government and save ourselves from the extremes.

In my off-the-cuff interpretation, the Republicans stand for self-initiative, less government control, and no sudden changes (even if that is not the way things have worked out).

Even though I think that the traditional left and right designations are blurring with time and generational changes, I still think there is a natural tendency for politics to waver between the extremes of ultra liberal, which at its worst can result in socialist totalitarian government (Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong), and the extreme right, which at its worst can result in fascist or Nazi totalitarianism (Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini), and of course many readers younger than I have no idea who I am talking about because it is not taught in schools.

And isn’t it strange that while liberals and conservatives are arch enemies, when taken to the extreme both ideologies seek to destroy the rights of the individual and replace those rights with the requirement of blind obedience to something called the state.

On television yesterday I saw a report that said that people around the world are rooting for a new beginning for America that will once more make us the hope of freedom-loving folks all over the globe. No more Nazi-like blitzkriegs into other nations under false-pretext, no more police-state tactics, no more incarcerations without charges or trials, no more attempts to make the nation a theocracy, and hopefully no more proclamations of war with no end in order to stifle democratic (with a small d) dissent, and here’s one – how about an administration that does not send its citizen-soldiers (National Guard and Reserve) to war and then have the uncaring audacity to charge them for their medical bills when they are wounded? George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative”. If I had of been him and I found out that either through policy or bureaucratic bungling my solders were being charged for their own treatment, I would have issued an executive order on the spot rectifying such a situation and followed up with the necessary policy changes through legislation or whatever it would take. If he had any shame or decency he would have done so. How can we hear those reports and with good conscience go about our everyday lives?

I think the crowds in Berlin turning out for Obama meant something (although a right-wing friend of mine claimed they were waiting for a rock concert). I think the U.S. as a nation has felt unappreciated and has gone around with a chip on its shoulder too long.


I’m Tony Walther and I approve of this message.

P.s. barring unexpected circumstances, I probably won’t blog again until after I get the word on who won the presidency, assuming I get that word sometime at least by late Tuesday (don’t think I could hold off blogging longer than that).