Don't Call Me a Republican

I am not a Republican.

I believe in marriage between a man and a woman. I am a gun owner. I am a senior manager in the middle of corporate America. I did not support Occupy Wall Street. I believe unions can stifle business growth and drive productivity out of the marketplace. My car is powered by a gas guzzling V-8 engine and I do not cringe every time I fill up the tank. I have read Atlas Shrugged. I liked it so much I read it again. I am a staunch and practicing Mormon. I believe in conservative fiscal policy and am very worried about the near $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities this country faces in the next 75 years. I am a fan of Reagan. I don’t believe CEOs are paid too much money. I am pro-life (with exceptions).

I am still not a Republican.

I have been called many names by my Republican friends and twitter followers. Socialist. Communist. Liar. Ideologue. Big government. I am none of these. The uses of such phrases do not make me upset because it helps identify a more disparaging element; the Republican Party has lost their identity and justify their positions with disingenuous arguments and logical fallacies. That’s not to say that Democrats are innocent in this regard; it’s just the tolerance for differentiated thinking is so far rooted out of the mainstream GOP. Republicans try to use the same type of litmus behavior to identify Democrats, which is challenging given the diversity of the party. Even worse, there are high levels of justification for twisting facts, leveraging blatant dishonesty, and unethical practices with the belief that the end justifies the means.

Republican Voter ID Laws
Voter ID laws have become the de-facto method of the Republican Party to suppress opposition.

Let me provide an example. Currently there are several court cases being pushed through the justice branch of government involving ID cards to stop voter fraud. This sounds reasonable on the surface. However, when you dive into the drivers and sponsors of the legislation you realize the extensive partisan backing and maligning of facts. There have only been 2,068 reported cases in which 10 have been found guilty of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000.  Yes, you read that correctly, 10. Yet the Republican Party has sponsored a dynamic effort to pass voter laws which by all accounts make it tougher for the poor, students, and minorities to vote; all key demographics of the Democratic Party. Faced with questions around the ethics of their actions a typical response includes, “well, these are only the cases we know of…Who knows how many there actually are.” Uh huh, Right.

Republicans also hide behind misleading talking points. Somehow GDP growth, declining unemployment, strong stock market returns, and record corporate profits are all thrown to the wayside because the current participation rate is declining. The irony behind this dishonest red herring is the same viewer demographic of Fox News, the elderly, are the main drivers of the declining participation rate. Economists have been predicting the Baby Boom population will reduce labor participation for over 20 years, but somehow this talking point has emerged as the end-all discreditation of President Obama’s policies. I also hear constant rhetoric about the growing National Debt. I agree this is a problem, but it wasn’t until January 20th, 2009 that this issue became the rallying cry of the conservative base driven by short-term memories.

This type of dishonest debate has emerged as the center piece of almost all of my interactions with the right. I have a family member that rails on the parasitic nature of the poor, yet their life was extended through the saving grace of Medicare curing 10 years of unchecked cancer at a ridiculous cost to taxpayers. I know of several Republican Congressmen who blasted the pet projects of President Obama’s stimulus package, yet showed up at the ribbon cuttings to take full credit. Almost every Republican I have spoken with derides socialism yet supports the military, the biggest socialist program in the US.  These same individuals also drive on public roads, send their children to public schools, visit national parks, and support the police and fire departments.  The mind-numbing-repetitive-labeling of any opposing idea as liberal or socialist completely disregards the meanings of the word and enshrines the speaker in a cloud of ignorance.

Republicans attack welfare for the poor but support bailouts for the rich. They sit on the pedestal of pro-life which diminishes once the embryo takes their first breath. They hide behind a shield of fiscal conservatism but have no idea what is driving the federal budget. They also live in Utopian world of problem solving. Yes I agree, cutting off welfare might entice some of the poor to work, but it will also drive up crime and promote Darwinist consequences. This type of theoretical thinking is why I do not support Libertarian platforms – I love the ideas – but their concepts are too drastic to be reasonable.

What annoys me most about the Republican rhetoric is the demonizing (not the opposition) of President Obama. The right’s frustration with President Obama has little to do with what he has not done, but more with what he has. In 2008 President Obama campaigned on single payer healthcare reform, student loan reform, housing reform, stimulus spending, and reduction in the annual deficit. He did not follow through on a secret agenda after election but passed the exact legislation campaigned on. Where President Obama fell short had more to his compromising spirit than his polarizing agenda. He passed healthcare reform, but instead of single payer, he contracted private insurance companies similar to Romneycare. He eventually cut the deficit in half but it took longer than promised because he extended the Bush tax cuts. Instead of trillion dollars of stimulus spending he scaled back the package to include $300 billion of tax cuts. Each of these changes favored the right, but you would never know by their posturing.

Now I am sure several Republicans will read my arguments and cry foul; that I am engaging in the exact same stereotyping I am calling out. Fair enough. However, the levels are not even in the same ballpark. The last four years of congressional leadership is an embarrassment to American politics. The House floor has voted 50+ times to repeal Obamacare knowing the bill would never leave the chamber. When the GOP was in the Senate minority they filibustered even the most contrite votes including lower court judge appointments. Yet this is an unethical strategic advantage for the Republicans. Republicans hide behind the smaller-government-works-better mantra driven by legislative inefficiencies that they create.

It’s not that I am fundamentally opposed to the ideas shared by Republicans; it’s more that I am opposed to the way they share. Even within party, dissension from core platforms brands the iconic label of RINO (Republican In Name Only) which is the scarlet “A” of the Republican party. Weeding out of centrist ideas fundamentally shifts the political balance and swings the pendulum too far to the right. This type of political activity will eventually cost the Republicans seats in Congress, especially when the competitive map becomes a little more challenging (like in 2016). Of course any vocal opposition to Republican ideas always results in the same typical hyperbole — liberal, socialist, or even a liar — which I never take personally.

Just don’t call me a Republican.

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