An Open Letter to the GOP (by T Freeman)

An Open Letter to My Fellow Republicans:

Here are his questions: Are these real differences I see?  Was it me that changed or the party, or did I just realize (late) what was always there?  Regardless, should I stay (GOP) or should I go (Independent), or have I already gone?

I’ve been a Republican for 20 years, for as long as I could vote, and I’m about to hit 40.  But something has happened, maybe slowly, and if some things don’t change soon, either in me or in the party, a break up is comin’.   Maybe I’m the only one that feels as I do or has my reasons, but what follows are some things that will have to change if the GOP and me are gonna stay together:

Immigration.  The Party is quickly becoming anti-immigrant.  To put it another way, the party doesn’t mind subjecting all brown people to additional police suspicion and arrests–citizens or not–if it helps catch those darn illegals.  Maybe it’s always been that way, and I just didn’t notice or care.  But it seems like the only immigration reform that the GOP is willing to get behind consists of bigger and better walls, more questioning of suspected illegal immigrants (even if they turn out to be citizens of a suspicious color), and more deportations,  even of people who have been here since they were infants and have only known America as their home.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been some high profile Repubs (George W. Bush, John McCain, etc.) that (briefly) made the political mistake of thinking that GOP immigration reform should and could be more than just these things, but they were quickly brought in line or silenced.  GOP immigration “reform” is increasingly about policing real–and suspected(!)–illegals. That’s it. The message the GOP is sending to even legal immigrants and their citizen children: If your skin is brown, you better carry proof of your right to be here on your person, because we want to give police the power to demand your papers and arrest you if you can’t prove you belong here, on the spot.  If you didn’t know that was the growing message that Hispanics in this country are getting from us, read the Arizona law (in its pre-SCOTUS form), think about how that would work exactly, read some lefty commentary from a lawyer or someone in police enforcement, and most importantly, look at the polls of Hispanics on this issue.  My fellow Repubs may say, “No, no!  We want to do more immigration reform that just busting illegals, we just want to get the policing powers lined up first.”  My response:  I wish I believed you, but I don’t.  More importantly, neither do the vast majority of Hispanics.  Further, giving police the power or encouragement to make Hispanic citizens feel like pseudo-criminals in the meantime in the effort to rid us of all illegals is anti-American and a racist cop’s dream.  Get a different priority and/or strategy, or risk losing your soul, as well as the soon to be majority of Americans.

Political entertainment.  I could be wrong, but I used to feel that although buffoons and special interests always had their share of sway in every party, the GOP had some statesmen within it, and those statesmen had some degree of real leadership in the party and with the base.  I think there are still some statesmen within the party.  My concern is that they are not the leaders of the party, not in terms of influence.  My growing conviction is that political entertainers have more influence with the base than anyone else–by far.  My parents were always aware of whom I was hanging around with and listening to on a daily basis, and I’m aware of it today with my kids.  Increasingly the base of the GOP is spending too much time listening to Rush Limbaugh and various Fox News “personalities.”  So our party is becoming more like these folks: more belligerent, more arrogant, more belittling of other views.  Both the content and depth of the ideas and the tone in which they are conveyed is increasingly set by the political entertainers, and this is not good, unless we think that governing is the same as entertaining.

Criminal justice issues.  Related to the points above, harsher and harsher mandatory minimum sentences for everything is not a great policy (certainly not from a standpoint of fiscal responsibility or even public safety), even though it makes for some great sound bites.  If “tough on crime” is all our base wants to hear about a candidate, then we’re not even a thinking party any more, just an angry mob.  Again, there are prominent Republicans (Chuck Colson, for one) who have advocated real and helpful reforms based on their experience working with prisoners and their families towards rehabilitation, but, despite their experience, the base is unmoved.  Our talking heads (except when they are facing criminal prosecution themselves) lead the chant to lock ‘em up and throw away the key, and the party follows.  Prison has never been a particularly smart way to deal with crimes fueled by addictions, or with people who do have a real shot at rehabilitation. Prison has shown, however, to be a great way to train all kinds of folks for more crime. We could do better if we can break the singular focus to be “tough on crime” which, not surprisingly, produces more and more hardened criminals.  Being tough or angry isn’t the only thing we need; not for long term policy and public safety.

Fiscal Responsibility.  Kudos for being consistent in sounding the alarm for fiscal responsibility.  I wish I could say that the GOP is as good at doing fiscal responsibility as talking about it.  The best thing about the Tea Party, IMO, is that they have picked up on this hypocrisy in the party. Talk is cheap, or expensive, depending on how you look at it, but either way, talk of fiscal responsibility by itself doesn’t work.  You have to actually propose and pass balanced budgets (ones that hurt Repubs and Dems interests alike).  You have to be willing to cut some of your sacred cows to get the other side to cut some of theirs.  And lastly, cutting taxes can’t always be the solution to everything, not if the government is in the red.  (Taxes, let’s remember, account for how money comes to the positive side of the government’s cash flow statement, unless you wanna just keep borrowing.)  I’m a lawyer with a tax degree to boot so maybe I’m one of the few that knows how many tax cuts we’ve had in the last 12 years, even as deficits shot up, so maybe no one else sees the unreasonableness of being unwilling to put taxes back the way they were during the 90′s.  But I do, so the GOP is losing credibility with me.   Please keep talking about fiscal responsibility, but not if you are unwilling to raise any taxes or cut any of the GOP’s favorite expenditures.

So, I’m interested to hear from fellow Republicans: Are these real differences I see?  Was it me that changed or the party, or did I just realize (late) what was always there?  Regardless, should I stay (GOP) or should I go (Independent), or have I already gone?

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Steve Billingsley

    I am a registered GOP voter and I share all of these concerns (and a couple more) – but my attitude toward the Republican Party is similar to the sentiment attributed to Winston Churchill regarding representative democracy (I don’t have the quote in front of me, so this is a paraphrase) – “It is absolutely the worst form of government ever invented, except every other kind that has been tried.”

    As political parties go, that sums up the way I feel about the Republican Party. I think it still has some statesmen in it (to be fair, I think the Democrat Party has some as well), but the overall tone and culture of our political conversation is pretty discouraging to me. That being said, I do feel that Christians have a responsibility to be informed and involved as much as they can in a way that reflects the character of Christ.

  • http://wornoutbibles.blogspot.com A. J. Farley

    The issue that makes me angriest with the GOP is voter suppression. Republican-led legislatures across the country are moving to put up overwhelming barriers to legal voters in democratic constituencies in an effort to combat a problem (voter fraud) that doesn’t exist. I am more likely to get struck by lightning than I am to commit voter fraud. The hypocrisy of these actions strains credibility. Never have so many resources been devoted to such a non-existent problem.

  • Patrick

    On the criminal justice problems, he’s wrong if he thinks the right is the only delusional aspect of US thinking relating to drugs and jurisprudence. I cannot find 2 people who think drug prohibition is stupid. We tried it and learned better years ago, yet here we are at it again.

    Everyone has a hysteria about drugs, IMO. It was black, democratic congressional representatives who advocated for “throw away the keys” penalties for crack cocaine sales, they ignorantly thought it would scare pushers away. Now they’ve repented.

    I wouldn’t rate the GOP talking heads as more hate filled or ridiculous than a handful of the lefty guys . To me they’re all a waste of bandwidth or whatever . Maybe he should watch him some Ed Schultz on MSNBC. He can do a tirade with the best of them. I personally think hatred is on the growth path on all sides.

    Immigration? It was under POTUS Clinton the law was passed&signed and under POTUS Obama the law has been voraciously applied to empower local police to act as agents for ICE authority which could lead to the racism applied fears he remonstrates about as if it were the GOP who is voraciously executing this law currently. Note to author, it is not.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/17/us/17immig.html

  • T

    Patrick,

    I know that there are lots of Dems and Repubs that are for the war on drugs. My issue is with how we deal with the “criminals” who are addiction-driven. On the whole, I see much more willingness to talk about treatment and rehab, even for criminals, on the left than the right. Am I wrong?

    I also know that the GOP has no monopoly on hate-filled entertainers. Rather than argue that the right is leading the way on this, which I think they are, I’d rather argue this: OUR talking heads aren’t making us better, they’re making us worse.

    Yes, we can point to what Dems have passed or done that didn’t go far enough in immigration reform. Again, rather than point at the Dems and say, “They fail here too!” or “They started it!” could you tell me where my analysis of the GOP’s own priorities or message is wrong? The only goal for immigration “reform” that has any political life in the GOP right now is better fences and more policing of suspected illegals, which, by definition, will include police questioning/arresting people who are actually citizens or otherwise legally here, but who have somehow provided reasonable suspicion that they are not. What would that be exactly? Skin color? Language or accent? Guilt by association?

    The Arizona law was an embarrassment, but the GOP base has made it abundantly clear about what their priorities are for immigration, both in the support for those laws and in the reaction to pols of either party that have proposed anything other than “secure the border” measures.

  • JohnM

    What does it mean to “go independent” though? If there were more than two viable parties, something other than the Democrats as an alternative, I too might be thinking about parting ways with the GOP, for some of the same reasons, and some different reasons. But there aren’t and there isn’t, so I expect I’ll stand pat for the time being.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    The 21st century edition of the GOP is anti-intellectual, anti-science (see the recent Pew survey in that ~5% of scientists consider themselves Republican), “anti-smartypants”, nativist (just look at the lopsided numbers of minority/female support for ‘D’ over ‘R’) and promotes regressive Gilded Age policy as solutions to economic ills.

    Granted, the Democratic party is no panacea either, but at least they only wish to go back to the 20th century.

    All that aside, while I have my sentiments, since last election, I “outsource” my vote now. When I was young, I used to think about what was best for me or those in my occupation or my family. Then, it morphed into future generations, or the aggregate good of the nation, etc.…. Now, I vote for who the average “poor” person will cast a vote for. The system is so slanted to the rich (look at all the studies that show deferential treatment lawmakers give to upper class over middle class, and middle class over lower class — it is as if poor people do not exist).

    And ever since abandoning my card carrying Republican status, outside of a short period where I switched to the ‘D’ side, I remain politically independent and pledge allegiance to no political party.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    @T wrote: I also know that the GOP has no monopoly on hate-filled entertainers. Rather than argue that the right is leading the way on this, which I think they are, I’d rather argue this: OUR talking heads aren’t making us better, they’re making us worse.

    The difference is that on the right, these folks (i.e., Limbaugh, Coulter) are exalted by party leadership and the GOP brass cowers to call out anything spewed by these reprehensible hate mongers. There are indeed some hateful kind on the left, but they, by and large, are relegated to the margins. But the Limbaugh lovers, Coulter worshippers are represented not just at upper GOP echelons in Washington DC, but across state legislatures.

  • http://saintmarkslutheran.org Mark Brown

    C’mon Scot, 3 out of 4 of those are junk. Immigration is simply a demand to actually follow the law first and stop undermining the wages of Joe American. And that is coming strictly from the base of the party because they are tired of cheap talk followed by cheaper wages – see fiscal responsibility. Political entertainment is junk. The American people are certainly capable of telling the difference between Mitt Romney and Donald Trump; or Shep Smith and Sean Hannity. Take this one up with the DEM press who clearly has their share of clowns; yet always seem to interview the lone nut as the voice of the GOP. And please tell me what the equivalent DEM is to Paul Ryan or Tom Coburn. Which goes to the third junk, fiscal responsibility. Is the GOP good at this – no. But who you going to go to? The Democrats? Heh. The only one that has sting is Criminal Justice. But even there its an issue that national dems compete to see who is toughest on crime. The change is going to come from the Colsons and Douthats (before Bad Religion) of the world that build that case for the GOP to be smarter than blunt force throw away the key.

    There is no perfect political party this side of the return – at which point we won’t need parties. But if you actually care about any of those issues; the GOP is really the only game in town, because the Dems are pretty clear: open boarders, government spending by creditialist who know better than you, tough on crime status quo as a political issue, and deficits don’t matter or we just need to double taxes to pay for it all.

  • Jeff

    These are exactly some of the reasons I left the GOP and became an independent. I enthusiastically registered and voted GOP for my first election in 2004. By 2006 tho, I registered as an independent because I was sick of conservative arrogance, neoconservatism abandoning limited government, and all the other GOP folks at my small, conservative Christian college being class A jerks to the handful of liberal students on campus. I also got tired of conservatism and Christian faith being considered one and the same. I am sick of conservative Christians acting so unChrist-like then turning around and condemning others for believing in social justice, health care for all, etc. Probably why most of my friends at this point are more liberal than I am.

  • Andy

    The GOP has held on to the position (at least on paper) to oppose the murder of the unborn.

  • T

    JohnM,

    That’s a good question. I’ve considered staying in the GOP for the primaries, but at this stage I wonder if dropping the GOP registration is a better message to send than my often failed or irrelevant votes in the primaries. I’m thinking that if the roles of registered Repubs drops low enough, the party may respond, but even if they don’t, I’m wondering if I should bother staying with a party with such fundamental differences.

    Mark, again, I’m not making this about what the Dems do or don’t do. And immigration isn’t junk. The current law is both cruel on some points, and a mess to even try to enforce at others. To insist that bad laws be followed and enforced before discussing any common-sense reform to those laws is a choice, and a bad one, where the laws are as unworkable as our immigration laws. Even Karl Rove has said that the current GOP direction (a la Arizona’s law) is a short-term gain, long-term loss for the party, because it is so insulting to Hispanics (the ones that are citizens!). Finally, I didn’t say that people couldn’t tell the difference b/n Limbaugh and a statesmen; I said that we’re letting the Limbaughs shape and lead the party. We’re listening to them and their influencing us. My daughter can tell the difference b/n respectful kids and rude ones, but that doesn’t mean that she won’t start getting rude if she listens to the rude ones day after day. We’re “hanging out” with these guys on the radio and TV and they are changing the party–for the worse. I don’t know if you have kids. I do, and there’s no way I’d let her listen to Limbaugh. In terms of how he deals with people, he’s exactly what I don’t want her to learn to do with her wonderful brain and tongue. I’d love it if I could say he wasn’t the single biggest influence on the GOP’s base, but he is, and it’s not a good thing.

  • David P HIMes

    This post and comments demands response on two levels. First to the individual issues raised. Then, second, the the more fundamental issue of one’s view of the proper role of government. I find the issues raised here pretty thin.

    Republicans, as a group, are not against immigrants or immigration, they have simply called for enforcement of current law before we start making new ones. The border is not secure. Immigrants are required by current law to carry papers at all times, i.e., their green card. And are obligated to show it on demand to any law enforcement officer — current law. The current administration is refusing to enforce current immigration law. Some choice.

    Republicans have only recently become better at “political entertainment” than D’s, For years, the D’s had the arena all to themselves, and no one noticed.

    Criminal justice — I’ve not recently heard this raised as an R v D issue, and don’t believe it to be one. changes to the criminal justice system have been pretty much bipartisan changes.

    On fiscal responsibility, R’s want to see some real spending cuts before taxes are increased. And D’s have never and continue not to agree to any. The federal budget goes up 7% automatically, every year, due to laws enacted by D’s in reaction to Nixon not spending everything they appropriated.

    It is not irresponsible to ask the government to spend less. And it is spending which has grown so astronomically since President Obama took office.

    But the real issue is your view of government: If you think government has ever solved any problem, you should vote D. If you believe people freely interacting with other people are more likely to find solutions, you should vote R.

    People say they vote for the person, not the party. But the reality is that party is the more important criteria. Sure, some people in both parties are jerks and should be avoided, but they too are the exceptions.

    It is the parities that organize and run the chambers of the Congress. And that is what you should care about, who runs each of the chambers of Congress. Rarely due individual Senators or Representatives make a difference. Sometimes, they do, but mostly, they do not.

  • T

    Andy,

    Yes, I’ve thought of that. But I don’t see how my registration with the party, or even the votes I’ve cast over the years, have changed that one bit, or will do so. I’m not going to start being pro-choice if I become an Independent.

  • Jeff

    I know you asked to hear from fellow Republicans, but I hope you don’t mind hearing from a former Republican. For what it’s worth, I think your analysis of the GOP as it currently stands (I’m not competent to speculate on who changed and when) is spot-on. Now to the meat of your question:

    “Regardless, should I stay (GOP) or should I go (Independent), or have I already gone?”

    As my wife’s mother is fond of saying, “you win or lose by the way you choose.” I think you can call yourself an Independent, you can write posts like this one, you can lament the hegemony of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, you can bemoan the impending financial doom… but at the end of the day it comes down to your vote, because that’s what puts people in office. Nothing changes unless you vote differently. It’s very possible that other commenters are right when they say that the GOP is the lesser of two evils, but if you punch the ticket on the R side, you’re voting for the continuance (or furtherance) of everything you’re decrying here.

  • scotmcknight

    Mark, did you see that I didn’t even write the post?

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    I don’t see the following discussed much, and I think it is material.

    America has always been the melting pot. It was (and I mean was) people of various nationalities who have come together under a common government and economic system. The American manifest destiny was not a blood line or human genome pool that was superior to the others, it was people who have agreed on an approach to a nation.

    But that is now changing. Here in Virginia it is quite clear that many here feel that they are Americans, not because they believe in the American way, but because they are part of the American people. They are not much like French, of German, or Italian people. The heredity, and psychosis, of the people is what now matters more than the idea of the American nation.

    Romney further complicates this because he now represents a unique American religion. Even if you don’t believe in Mormonism you have this further tug on the heartstrings that says America is somehow ordained.

    The core problem, in my opinion, is that the republicans no longer view America as a melting pot of people but a nationality that requires heredity.

  • T

    David,

    I’m not talking about voting for a Democrat necessarily; I’m talking about dropping my Repub. registration and going Independent. Regarding immigration, I urge you to listen to some Hispanics or read polls of Hispanics. I applaud McCain, Bush, and now Rubio for trying to get the Repubs to head a different direction on immigration. Right now, the laws the GOP wants enacted and enforced are hostile to real people, both citizens and non, that deserve better.

    Finally, while I embrace that government can’t do everything well, if you think that government has never solved any problems, or been a necessary component of the solution to problems, you haven’t even embraced the best of the Republican party’s history.

    Thanks for the comments, so far. I’m guessing from the feedback that the consensus so far is that I’ve already left the GOP, or that it’s left me, which is fair enough.

  • T

    Jeff,

    Good point. No doubt that I’m becoming more and more open to vote for any candidate regardless of party affiliation. That’s always been true to some degree, but its more true now than ever.

  • Allen Adkins

    I was a republican for 30 years. I use to believe there was a difference in party politics… but it’s all a charade. Political platforms are about who is in power and who is not and what needs to be said or done to gain or keep the power. My political philosophy is this: “Political Parties are mirages of the same waste-land”. I can’t believe the religious right would even consider supporting anyone running for president. The problem with the Church today is that is has some of the same so called “family values” as Newt Ging-GRINCH.
    I use to drink the Kool-Aid but no any more…

  • http://jesuscreed Annie

    What really irks me about many of the new Republicans is the re-defining of the word *compromise*. Immediately after the defeat of the true statesman Senator Richard Lugar in the Indiana Republican primary this spring, the newly elected candidate said (I paraphrase here) that the only person that would ever cross the aisle would have to be a Democrat because he was not budging an inch. He essentially is running on a no compromise platform. Though I almost always vote Republican, I announced to my family that I would either not vote or vote Democratic in the fall for the Senate seat. I may have become an *unspoken prayer request* on that one!

  • me

    I’ve been asking myself the same question. I’ve concluded that the party left me, and I started to see it when it became anti-immigrant.

    I am angry about the “entertainers” running the party. I don’t think it bodes well for the party or the U.S.

    The thing that bugs me the most is that many Republicans want to stay true to their ideology instead of being more pragmatic and actually trying to solve problems that we face.

    The R. party is coming across as being very, very against anyone who is poor.

    So, I have now left the R party.

  • Chris

    I’m a bit older than T so I made the jump from GOP to Indy almost 15 years ago when I was moving sharply away from nationalism. However, I voted GOP for president until the last election but unless the GOP adjusts in spirit, I can’t see myself voting for that party in local, state or federal elections. IMHO, the GOP has simply gone off the rails on the issues named.

  • http://Michaelrjones.wordpress.com Michael

    I’ve been tired of the GOP for these and other reasons. I’ve seen the effect that a steady diet of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity can have on a sweet Christian person (namely, my mother) and I’m convinced this is an important issue because of the effect this partisan polarization is having on the average Christian’s soul. Those who used to decry the liberal social justice crowd are now just as politically involved but it is with angry, hate-filled rhetoric that fails to see beyond the politics and economics to the Kingdom issues at stake.

  • JoeyS

    Just saw this article on NPR: “The Republican Party has made me less conservative.”

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/07/05/156319272/federal-judge-richard-posner-the-gop-has-made-me-less-conservative

  • Patrick

    T,

    I think these problems are real, I am not sure they are the preserve of the GOP entirely.

    Both parties have some awful groups they are beholden to and both parties are bought off with corporate billions, so neither will represent the average Joe ever again, IMO. They represent who fills their pockets during and after they spent time in office, not us.

    To the extent one makes a good move, it seems to me it’s only due to temporal electability.

  • http://Leadme.org Cal

    DRT:

    All that you said is rhetorically true but completely false in the reality.

    There has always been considered an ‘American race’ but it has been under constant expansion. The Germans, Irish, Italians, Natives, ex-slaves, French, Poles, Jews, Slavs, Greeks, Chinese, Japanese were all considered unamerican or foreign at some point. The idea of a mixing pot is more anachronistic in the minds of the people back then. No one wanted the Irish to move in next door.

    America was a harbor for all these disparate people, but a separate identity was always maintained by most “Americans”. The success of Nativists was huge in the early 19th century, it was its own political party at one point. Even so for those who encouraged immigration, no one wanted an Irish governor or an Italian judge or a Jewish congressman. And any attempt at mixing was considered mongrelism by the elite, the ones creating the narrative of American destiny. Of course, those same people would be horrified to see today’s “white people”. My great-grand dad was disowned because he married an Irish woman.

    Of course today seems a bit more benign but the Arabs have become, for many, the new Japanese. They may have citizenship and speak with no accent, but they aren’t really Americans. The racialist element that appears in the grassroots of conservatism against Arabs is something that has always existed in America. Of course, what hath Washington to do with Jerusalem?

  • http://Leadme.org Cal

    DRT:

    Also, you’re spot on about the Romney debacle many Republicans (especially the right-wing christians) face. The adoring of America is too much to resist for some. Mormonism always had an eschatological category for America as a divine seat. The problem was the theocratic Mormon kingdom never got off the ground and the bloody wars between American state governments and the Mormon paramilitary were pretty vicious.
    Of course, the new clean-cut (usually minority) image of Mormonism softens those blows.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Cal, I appreciate your response, and I say that it varies greatly by locale. I grew up in Pittsburgh Pa where we had the jewish area, polish, italian etc. And all the jokes by my friends were related to ethnic heritage. I have a decidedly polish last name, so I have had my share of jokes.

    But in my life, at least, none of those people could lay claim to being the Americans. All were equal in their all being bastards of nations.

    At this point I simply observe that something is changing. The muslims and mexicans are viewed as outsiders. The pot calling the kettle black in my view.

  • http://LostCodex.com DRT

    Cal, I want to clarify on re-reading. I agree that there has always been americanism, but my view is that it is now pervasive at a level that I did not imaging before. But I am a sample of 1. I wish I had more data.

  • http://morganguyton.wordpress.com Morgan Guyton

    The Republicans have an enormous image problem right now that will have grave consequences for their party in future generations. I can’t imagine voting Republican despite the fact that I’m pro-life, believe in federalism, and am fairly socially conservative. I really think there’s a lot of other evangelicals in their thirties like me who see such an anti-Christlike spirit being exuded by people like Limbaugh, Hannity, etc, that it will take many years of detox after these talking heads leave the picture for people like me to vote our values as a rational decision rather than a visceral expression of loathing for people we see as bullies.

  • JT

    Mark Brown writes, “Immigration is simply a demand to actually follow the law first and stop undermining the wages of Joe American. And that is coming strictly from the base of the party because they are tired of cheap talk followed by cheaper wages – see fiscal responsibility.”

    Come on, Mark. Republicans say on one hand that Joe American is an entitled brat who is making too much money and that’s why jobs are going over seas, while at the same time, its immigration that’s bringing down his wages? Do Republicans even know what they ought to believe about American job creation? Do we really want Americans to be forced into seasonal work picking cucumbers? What will they do come winter?

    Andy writes: “The GOP has held on to the position (at least on paper) to oppose the murder of the unborn.” Like “T” says, the GOP hasn’t done one thing when it has had the power to do so. They’re just using this as political football. I’m convinced that, like gay rights, these two issues are used to pull in the legalistic religious right, many of whom grew up in modest means, working hard, though benefit from and enjoy the benefits that Democratic policies on labor (and unions), and social justice, and would otherwise vote against the party that shows favoritism to the privileged (which violates a lot more Biblical commandments than sexual deviation and murder).

    As to the Limbaugh effect. My work takes me into a lot of homes. Occasionally, a homeowner will be home, listening to Limbaugh or Beck in the back room while I’m working. They always come out ready for battle, armed less with the realities of life than with an idealistic venom, spewing hatred for those that the Bible commands us to be openhanded toward. My friends who are Limbaugh and Beck devotees have evolved into the most rude and combative (if not self-righteous and hypocritical) people I know. One poster said that the Libs have their hate filled talking heads, and another posted that the media was left-winged before Limbaugh, “but no one noticed”. First, I don’t hear my liberal friends repeating the talking points of the Bill Mahers of the world like I do my conservative friends of Limbaugh, Beck, et al. Maher comes across more as a humorist, while Limbaugh’s venom takes root. Second, perhaps it is possible that “no one noticed” because the supposed left winged media isn’t as far left leaning as the the right is to the right? You just don’t hear the venom spewed by the supposed left wing media that you hear from the right. And perhaps nobody noticed because at one point that we were a more socially conscious, truly compassionate community? Or perhaps simply claiming that the media has a liberal agenda just makes for good radio and somehow justifies his extremist ranting. Yes. I believe the writer is correct. The GOP has moved farther right, and I’ll quickly agree that you can thank Rush Limbaugh for teaching us to embrace greed and hatred.

  • http://azspot.net Naum

    Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem

    Two respected political analysts from both sides of the party aisle, who enjoy unparalleled credibility with the beltway establishment, generally accepted as not being partisan bomb throwers or ideologues.

    When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges.

  • http://www.debatingobama.blogspot.com greg metzger

    If the example of Richard Lugar’s recent defeat in Indiana mean anything at all, it is that the changes in the GOP are real. When the man who had the strongest voting record with Ronald Reagan’s policies in the 80s is no longer “conservative” enough, the party has definitely changed.

  • Chuck

    Much of what is written about the GOP in this piece could also be said about the Dems. Slight shades of variation but still much the same. The exception is immigration.

    I believe that Mr. Freeman’s comments are typical diatribe that assumes that those who want to see illegal immigration rightly addressed (the rule of law fairly and compassionately upheld) are racist. It seems to me that when people don’t want to argue the merits of their ideas on this issue then they default to racial scare tactics (ex. racial profiling). I am not naive. I understand how good intentions in law enforcement can go too far and become discriminatory and oppressive. I am not for that and I know of no one who is. But to use racial scare tactics as a way to keep legitimate law enforcement efforts at bay is disingenuous. All this does is create a “don’t ask, don’t tell” immigration policy that is nothing more than defacto amnesty.

    Regarding the immigration issue there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides (and middle) of the aisle.

  • Richard

    I don’t need to pile on. I agree with the OP in noting how far right the GOP has moved and would also note that the Dems have shifted right significantly since Reagan also. The ACA (Obamacare) was first proposed by the Heritage Foundation in the 1980s, the same group that denounces it as socialism, etc today – that’s the clearest example in my mind of how far right the entire conversation has shifted. The options now tend to be moderate conservative and extreme conservative. The progressive voice has been largely pushed to the margins.

  • DanS

    If it is fair to call the Republicans the party of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity then it far more fair and far more accurate to call the Dems the party of Saul Alinsky. Not a big fan of the Republican Party but I will never, ever, vote Democrat again.

  • T

    Chuck,

    I do want to see both our treatment of illegal and legal immigrants rightly addressed, and a big part of that means changing the laws that are currently on the books, because they are neither compassionate or workable. Are you familiar with much of the actual immigration laws? If you aren’t, why are you so opposed to changing them, as part of a plan to make our immigration rules better suited to our economy, to family realities, and, thereby to enforcement? Whether this is true of you or not, my concern is that way too many Repubs are chanting the party line of “more enforcement first, then reform” without even knowing much at all about the actual immigration law that they are defending as it now stands and is applied to real people. That’s part of the insult to Hispanics. “Enforce those rules [that we don't even know about]; don’t reform them, enforce them! Hispanics don’t like those rules [that we don't know much about, 'cuz they don't affect me an my friends], too bad!”

    You say I don’t want to argue the merits, and only want to call people racists. I am saying that the kinds of laws that the Repubs have been supporting (existing Federal and new expansions to state police) encourage racial profiling and make it harder for good cops to not be accused of racial profiling, and way, way too easy for racist cops to use the law to harass people (citizens or not) based on their race. I AM arguing the merits because the substance of the Arizona law that the Repubs were so vocal in defending does these things. I don’t think anyone who reads it fails to see the very real dangers on both those fronts. This is no boogeyman; it’s dealing with how these kinds of laws work in real time. If I am only offering diatribe, why does Jeb Bush say many of the same things, why did his brother, why did John McCain, why Rubio now? What all these men have in common is that they are from states (like mine, Florida) who are close enough to many Hispanic people to see the current laws (and the new one’s like Arizona’s) from their perspective, and how they actually work in practice, and see how the current Repub proposals are an insult to all Hispanics. The fact is that many, many people who are here in violation of the current law are good for the country. Some came here as very young children. Some have decorated service in our military.

  • http://jessemedina.com Jesse

    What is most concerning to me about the direction of the GOP is the vitriol it fills otherwise kind and compassionate Christians with.

    I live in Colorado Springs where a wildfire recently destroyed hundreds of homes. Being the worst fire in Colorado’s history – and particularly challenging for firefighters – President Obama made a trip here to survey the damage and commit federal funds.

    Based on the reactions of conservative Christians, you would have thought Satan himself were coming to town.

    If a political party stands for all the “right” things (i.e. fiscally conservative, pro-life, etc.) but does so while spewing what can only be described as “hate” in the process, I will have nothing to do with it.

    What good is it, after all, to gain the whole world and lose your soul?

    Whatever political battles my conservative Christian siblings win now and in the years to come, those victories will be offset by those left-leaning unbelievers who simply cannot imagine how they might share in fellowship with those who are eager to unload their rage on the left.

  • T

    DanS,

    I wish that what you wrote could seem reasonable to me. Alinsky has had as much influence on the Repubs as the Dems (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2012/0128/Who-is-Saul-Alinsky-and-why-is-Newt-Gingrich-so-obsessed-with-him), and I dare say Alinsky would be better compared to Goldwater than the current GOP entertainers. But beyond that, it doesn’t change or even address the concerns I raise, but maybe that’s my answer, there is no defense to those concerns. They are just (some) of the low points of the party.

    One of the surprises (maybe it shouldn’t have been) of this thread has been how much the responses have been like the “your mama” play-ground banter. I think it says something, and its not a good something, that the best thing many of us can say in defense of the GOP to what I said above is “but the Dems are just as bad, or worse.” So, it’s not that we love the GOP platform or agree with them on the issues I raised, we’re just settling.

  • Jeff Q

    When can we expect an open letter to the Democrats full of demagoguery and other straw-man arguments? Immigration? He mentions “brown people” in the second sentence, removing the chance for any type of reasonable discussion on the issue.

    Political entertainment? Picking out easy targets on the right while ignoring the same level of ridiculousness on the left?

    Fiscal responsibility and “criminal justice issues” at this point are exponentionally larger than any one political party. Those issues require so many wholesale changes from top to bottom that the electorate pretty much just writes it off, tunes out and watches Wipeout.

    Finally, it seems as though using a political party to define your identity with the current state of our political discourse is not a wise thing to do.

  • napman

    I consider myself an independent T, and welcome you to the ranks. I doubt you will miss much by leaving the GOP.

    I am not as sure as you, however, that the Republican party is a hostage to Limbaugh, who made it consistently, if implicitly, clear that he did not want Romney as the nominee of the party this time and yet Romney won. The party draws strength from plenty of voters and thinkers who do not draw from the shallow wells of Rush and his ilk. Saying that the Republican party is run by the entertainers ignores the serious intellectual, political and institutional sources of leadership Republicans boast. This criticism seems overdrawn.

    I disagree with commentators who suggest that Republicans have done nothing to limit the abortion on demand regime of this country. Whatever limits have been enacted have been driven by Republican efforts for the most part. Supreme Court decrees from Roe v Wade and its progeny have done more to limit legally enforceable curtailment than the alleged Republican lip service. That almost every national Democrat favors current law speaks volumes as to the partisan philosophical differences in valuing protection of the unborn.

    As a Christian I believe all parties, politicians and the political ideologies that drive them will be found wanting on that final Day. Government is divinely mandated and is often a source for good but can be a source of evil as well. No party philosophy can be attributed to the will of God and the first casualty of appeals to what would Jesus do in 21st century American political life is one’s intelligence. We need to pray, be humble, try to develop political convictions that square with our faith and reason and leave the rest to our Lord. My attempt at this leaves me an independent, though I respect those who do affiliate. Wherever we stand, we need to remember that the coming kingdom is not run by the self interested philosophies of either party.

  • T

    Jeff Q,

    If I had been a 20 year member of the Democratic Party and was considering leaving it, I might be writing about that. But that’s just not my story or current state. I’m focused on the Repubs because I feel like we used to be better than this, better than we are now. I wrote about these particular issues because they are issues that, if the GOP stays on its present course regarding them, I won’t be able to be part of it.

    And it’s not just criminal justice, all these issues are bigger than one party. I don’t expect Repubs, by themselves to fix any of these. But I don’t want them leading the way in the wrong direction, which is what I see too much of now.

  • Jeff Q

    So I wonder what the ultimate solution is going to be? Each party has it’s extremes trying to pull it their way. Each party is name calling the other. Nothing is getting accomplished and the longer these issues continue, the harder it will be to reverse or straighten the course.

    I’ve never thought that the celebrity pundits on either side have accurately represented a majority of their party. Unfortunately, it seems that the loudest voices get the attention.

  • Thomas

    I am actually encouraged by this open letter to the GOP. It shows there is actually differing thoughts and view points under the republican banner…unlike the democrats.

    In fact you would have better luck locating Waldo then finding a democrat who is passionately pro-life in Congress. Over the last couple of years, almost all pro-life democrats have been pushed out of the party. Democrats have become largely monolithic behind the ideology of Pelosi and Reid…all of this saddens me as I used to be one until I could tell there was no longer any room left for me.

  • Sue

    I was a Republican, voted for George W Bush, largely because of the pro-life issue. But when we began to talk about invading Iraq, I started to pay a whole lot more attention. When I learned who was pursuing what for which reasons, my allegiance to the R party evaporated. Abortion is an important cause, but it is not the only one. And I know politics is all about power and money and alliances, so I don’t pretend the D party is not the some. The difference Is, who is working towards what. You see it here, even in some comments. Deplore Obama for increased spending? You mean the vastly increased spending on unemployment insurance and food stamps, along with the hugely decreased revenues, brought on by the crash + recession not of his making? You mean the stimulus which was half as large as needed and had a significant amount of tax cuts in order to get it past the “tax cut ideology” of the Rs in Congress? How about spending on Afghanistan, and record deportations? Most Republicans who discuss Obama’s “runaway spending” are quoting FOX without really knowing what spending they are talking about. Obama hasn’t, in reality, pursued really any enormous social spending. But the ideologues if the right see an opportunity here to undo the social contract we’ve had for all our lives, and they are being quite successful at using “entertainers” like Rush and Hannity to disinform voters to get us there. In the end, I don’t believe the Rs will do anything serious about abortion, but if we keep electing them, the poor will have no advocate, and for that matter, neither will the middle class, as corporate and money interests will always prevail. I fail to see how that would be a Christian objective.

  • Tom F.

    Thomas-

    Pro-life Democrats have been pushed out of congress as evangelical organizations black-balled them for voting for the Health-care plan.

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/june/pro-life-dems-dwindle.html

    “In the 2010 election, pro-life groups targeted pro-life Democrats who supported President Obama’s health-care law. Even some Democrats who opposed the law faced opposition by conservatives who saw the midterm election as a golden opportunity to put a more conservative Republican in office. The result: The number of pro-life Democrats shrank by half.”

    So much for “issue” based politics: conservative evangelicals claim to be open to a member of any party who is pro-life, but they clearly aren’t THAT open. Ironically, purging Democrats of pro-life members will probably push Democrats even further to the left on that issue.

    And that is why the pro-life stuff seems (often, but not always) hypocritical to me: organizations that are supposed to be narrowly, issue-based advocates against abortion were just itching to get rid of these Democrats, and they found a pretext in the health care law. Lame.

  • Ron Hunter Jr.

    This letter indicates to me how misinformation can be so powerful. As a lifelong Republican, I support change as most in the country but I see that the role of government as a part of the solutions needs to diminish.
    The writers concerns for Immigration are valid but to somehow identify the Rep. concern as anti-immigration and in part racist, is to not understand the concern. Legal immigration is welcomed regardless the nationality and race. The issues are that when there is a system that ignores the law and then a sizable population demand resources from a tax system intended for those obeying the law, this is a broken system. The Church’s response as I see is to call people to be law abiding not only in one country but to live the change in their own country.
    The other issues are similarly misconstrued. The responsibility of the Christian, again as I see it, is to be the agent of valuing people in need with the resources God has provided rather than to defer to the Government such charity. The danger is that people will contribute to those they prefer and dismiss some. There will be marginal persons when left to volitional virtue. Deferring to the Government to resolve these issues seems to me to be historically and biblically incongruent. The more the individual is integrally the community, the richer the society. This is why I am Republican. The progressive trajectory is the society that I dread we become.


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