As an Independent voter who left the GOP in 2006, the demise of the GOP has been predicted for the past few years. The best prediction I saw I cannot attribute to an individual as I don’t remember who said it – one of the problems of being an Old Fart. The key is its timing as it was said in 2009 before the mid-term elections. The comment resonated with me as it said “the mid-term election success the GOP may enjoy will unfortunately mask the underlying problems in the party.” The point of the unknown author is the GOP had embraced the extreme conservative right too much and this embrace would come back to haunt them.
I have heard other more traditional Republicans make the same lament, the most famous being Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush on Fox News back in February and again in Washington over the summer. Jeb Bush lamented the deficit reconciliation plan that John Boehner and Barack Obama negotiated last summer was a “no brainer” yet the Tea Party congressional members voted it down as it had a modest tax increase. Now, we have this pending cliff that will hit at year-end thanks to their failure to act with stewardship.
Like Governor Bush, I would like the GOP to return to what made it a more viable party and one that was welcome at the table. We have become a more embittered and divided nation because of the extremism that largely sits in this party, Yes, there is some on the left, but the median has clearly been moved to the right and it is not a normal distribution meaning the extremists do not fall evenly on both sides. As an Independent, I see a much heavier tilt to the right on the share of the lunatic fringe to quote a great Pink Floyd song. Our problems are very complex and need more than sound bite solutions. They need bi-partisan planning as the execution of the plan and measurement of results will last beyond anyone’s incumbency. This especially holds true on revamping our tax code, responding to our deficit and developing an eco-energy plan.
We also need to work from real data about our problems and leave the politically or industry biased data behind. This is hard because of the vast amount of money the industry and lobbyists contribute to sway legislators. Yet, we have to work hard at making sure the issues and solutions are openly discussed. I have attempted to use data based arguments the past few months doing my best to use apolitical data from outside the US. To highlight a few of these comments:
– We have to solve our deficit problem with increased taxes and reduced spending. The math will not work otherwise. We are one of the least taxed countries in the world and were so when the budget was contributing a surplus before Jeb’s brother took office.
– We have to address our eco-energy crisis due to global warming and its man-made influence. Like other countries who are way ahead of us, we must diminish the use of fossil fuels in an orchestrated way, we need to switch to cleaner coal, we must incent and embrace solar, wind and other alternative energy solutions and we must conserve energy and water. This plan must include a robust EPA not a gutted one.
– We have to emphasize education and job-retraining as being done in the community colleges. We need to include teachers and industry leaders in this process. Otherwise, we will continue to see the flight of jobs to other countries. Please remember, innovation is portable. Someone can take his or her ideas somewhere else. We need to show this is where innovation can flourish.
– We need to address our economic disparity in this country which is atrocious. We need to plan with communities on how to give more opportunity to people in poverty. We need to help them climb ladders, but we need to address that this problem exists and is painfully real. America has fallen to 10th place in social mobility in the world and for some it is non-existent. We have 46 million Americans in poverty.
– We need to address common sense gun laws. We have 20 times the gun deaths of the next 22 wealthiest countries combined and 80% of all children gun deaths of these 23 countries, including us. At a minimum, we need to reinstate the Brady Bill. Note, the Democrats are almost as scared of the NRA as the Republicans which is why the Brady Bill was let to expire.
– We need the Affordable Care Act to continue regardless of who wins the White House. It needs further improvement, but please note the status quo before the law is not sustainable or that effective with our number one global ranking in cost which buys us a 37th ranking in quality. Note, the ACA is largely a Republican idea which I find hypocritical that the GOP holds it in such contempt.
– We need to stop using the bible as a weapon and cease the bigotry from the pulpit. The next time a minister denigrates someone in the name of God or Christ, get up and leave the church. There is a reason for separation of church and state. Just because someone is a minister does not mean they cannot be full of shit.
– We need the GOP to stop making stuff up. This is one of the key reasons I left the party. Our problems are hard enough with real data. By the way, the Stimulus Plan worked and saved us from a depression creating 2.5 million jobs and 2% of GDP. Who says so – six respected, non-partisan economists. If the President did not bail out GM and Chrysler as Governor Romney suggested, we would be in large hole, especially in Ohio and Michigan. Obama is far from perfect, but he deserves some kudos here.
Let me conclude by saying I want the GOP to get back to reasonableness. It has fallen into an extreme political abyss and needs to finds it way out of this hole. The country needs collaboration to be successful. We need reasonable debate and discussion. We need a reasonable GOP at the table. Otherwise, we deserve the credit rating drop that Moody’s is holding over our head should we not address our issues. Remember, S&P dropped us last year and they were right to do so.