I am an absolute, dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, though only by default. I’d vote Socialist if we had a viable socialist party in this country. As it is, I don’t find the Democrats liberal enough, but they’re what I have, so I deal.
I’m going to write two essays. One on the Republicans and one on the Democrats. My goal is to write what I think are the pros and cons of each of the two parties, and thus perhaps show better WHY I consider myself a Democrat (beyond not being able to really be a Socialist).
In this endevor, I’m going to try to be fair and balanced, as it were. I’m going to put what I consider to be honest failings with the Democrats and honest successes with the Republicans. I’d be interested to hear what people think of this. Here goes.
The Republican Party (aka: the Grand Old Party, or GOP, this despite the fact that the Democractic Party is older), sprang up in the mid-1800’s as an abolitionist party. The party grew fast and, after only a few years, had their first president, one Abraham Lincoln. Over the years the party went from being a party of civil rights, populism and a fair-shake for the worker, and became what it is today; a hidebound group of rich WASPs (with a few token Jews and Catholics allowed), who obsess over what they think are high taxes, and put capitolism before anything else. They’re in an alliance with extreme religious elements who want desprately to turn this country into a theocracy. This alliance seems at long-last to be falling apart, but it’s been surprisingly sturdy for quite a while now.
Despite this, I find some pros with the Republican Party.
1. The Republicans want to keep government out of your private life. In theory, at least. Under this logic they should be avid supporters of Lawrence v Texas, but this appears to not be the case. Still, I can agree with the basic idea.
2. They are stronger on illegal immigration. I’m not blind to the notion that we have about 12 million people here illegally and can’t possibly give them all deporation hearings. By the same token, I’m not big on a general amnesty. Something that comes short of that, giving the illegals perhaps permanent resident status with no chance for citizenship, and even that only after they pay heavy fines, learn English, etc. I think that’s something the Republicans are far more likely to get behind.
3. My favorite historical president, Theodore Roosevelt, was a Republican, though only barely, and by today’s standards he’d be a moderate Democrat. Nevertheless, this is a pro.
4. The GOP ended slavery. Lincoln spearheaded the war against the South and won. True, that was more about preserving the Union, and he said that he would’ve left every slave in chains if that was what it took to keep the country whole, but despite that they are the ones who finally ended slavery for millions of blacks while the Democrats did nothing.
5. They are, at least in theory, the party of fiscal responsibility. Of not spending more than we earn. This doesn’t happen in reality, but it’s a nice thought.
1. The GOP is massively entangled with the religious right (though often they are neither religious nor right). As a result of this, they are extremely bigotted. Consider the anti-gay attitudes put forth by many of them. Yeah, Democrats sometimes aren’t much better, but they are a little better, and the odds of things changing positvely for the gays are far greater with the Democrats than the Republicans.
2. Also because of this entanglement, they’re heavily against abortion, for the most part. There are notable exceptions who favor a woman’s right to choose, but most decry it at every chance. This is annoying, stupid and ironic because…
3. They favor abstinence-only sex-education. Right. Yeah, that’s smart. Teach kids nothing at all about birth-control, then do everything you can to force them to have a baby they aren’t ready for when the inevitable happens. It’s even worse if the kid in question is gay, cause they won’t get any information about safe gay sex. Even worse are the lies these groups often spread when giving the education to kids, doing things like inflating the levels of condom failure. It’s no coincidence that kids who go through these kinds of education only stave off sex for a few months longer than those who don’t, and when they do start having sex are far less likely to use protection.
4. “We hate goverment! It doesn’t work! It’s a bad, awful thing! Now, vote me into government!” This pretty well speaks for itself. As has been observed by many, the Republicans talk about how government is a miserable failure, then get elected into office and prove it.
5. Their current civil-rights record is, at best, spotty. Sure, there’s prominent minorities in the GOP (I hestiate to use the word “token”, but it does present itself), but I think it’s very telling that the candidates they had up for president this year were all white men. True, so were most of the Democratic candidates, but they also included a hispanic who has dropped out of the race, and a mixed-race man and a woman , one of whom will be the nominee. The GOP talks about being the party of Lincoln, but they don’t really show it.
6. The constant desire to teach intelligent design to kids in school. Look, there’s NO real scientific controversy over the Theory of Evolution. None. There’s reams upon reams of evidence in support of it versus zero (0), in favor of intelligent design. Even the idea of “teaching the controversy” is stupid. First, there really isn’t a controversy as far as science is concerned, and second, there aren’t always two equally valid sides to every arguement. If you’re going to teach ID and evolution, then don’t you need to teach the idea that slavery was just fine, and perhaps the Jews deserved what they got? After all, those are two different sides!
7. Ignoring the poor. No, Kanye, George Bush doesn’t hate black people. What he hates, or at least doesn’t like and ignores, is the poor. Rich black people didn’t suffer as much at the hands of Katrina as poor white people did. Really, the only color the GOP worries about is green.
8. In addition to intelligent design, the Republicans are very anti-science. Consider embryonic stem-cell research. This would be research done on embryos that are going to be destroyed anyhow. Fertility clincs make these things by the gross. If they’re going to be gotten rid of, shouldn’t it be to a good purpose? Besides, from a simple numbers point of view, if it took elimination of a few embryos to derive cures for cancer, AIDS, etc, I’d be the first there with the knife (well, if I had any scientific skill, which I don’t). They talk about the sanctity of human life, and how killing a few for the good of the many is a bad thing. Explain Iraq, then?
9. The GOP is extremely jingoistic. They place the forms of patriotism far ahead of any actual substance. Consider the notion of an amendment to ban flag burning. Yes, taking away actual freedom to preserve a symbol of freedom. That’s just messed-up.
10. First in war, last in peace. Even when they win a war, like in Iraq, they screw up the peace badly. They seem to like the idea of spreading democracy, and incidentally Christianity, by the sword, but don’t usually like what happens when this fails and, at least in Iraq, have in general simply soldiered on, making the same mistakes over and over again. Yes, things are getting better there, but they shouldn’t have gotten this bad to begin with.
11. Thanks at least in part to the GOP, we’re one of the only major countries left with a death penalty, and boy, do we like to use it! True, the Democrats aren’t as vocally against it as I’d like them to be, but at least they aren’t as enthused by it as the Republicans are.
12. Almost entirely due to the Republicans we don’t have Single Payer Universal Health Care like the rest of the civilized world has. We should. There’s no excuse for why we don’t, aside from money. Again, the Democrats haven’t pushed this as hard as they should, and don’t look likely to this year, but at least we’re going to probably end up with some sort of Universal Health Care, which we won’t ever have if the GOP is in office. They apparently have this mixed-up notion that it’s perfectly fine to make people choose between having a place to live and dying. That it’s ok to have people ending up bankrupt because of medical bills. They probably weren’t good people, anyhow.
13. The GOP, especially during the last several years, has viewed the entire world in black or white. “You’re either with us, or against us.” They have no concept of nuance, or reality. Instead they shout, “Onward, Christian soldiers!”, and expect the rest of the world to get out of our way. As far as they’re concerned, the Muslim terrorists have no legitimate gripes and simply want to destroy us because they “hate freedom”. This is a half-truth at best, and we need to understand what our enemies want and what motivates them if we want to end these conflicts. Simply killing them en masse won’t work, because there’s always more to come.
14. George W at one point during a meeting in 2005 was alleged to say the Constitution was just a “goddamned piece of paper”. I don’t know if he actually said that or not, I’m willing to believe he probably did. He certainly seems to live up to the notion. What else explains the PATRIOT Act, the warrantless wiretaps, the prison at Gitmo, the use of torture, etc? True, we’re fighting a war against a real nasty enemy, but we didn’t use those tactics when we fought the combined forces of the Germans, Italians and Japanese during WWII. In fact, there were Japanese soldiers and officers who used waterboarding on our troops during the war. We put them on trial for this. How can we justify using this technique now? You can make arguements about the “ticking time-bomb” scenario, I suppose, but to that I say, “We live in the real world, people. This isn’t an episode of 24.” I think tortue should be illegal under all circumstances. In the highly unlikely “ticking time-bomb” scenario, I would expect the interrogator to do whatever they need to in order to stop the bomb, or whatever, from going off. In return, I’m sure they’d get a pardon and the thanks of a greatful nation. But I digress.
15. Basically, the GOP is scared of freedom. Oh, they like freedom for themselves, but when it comes to freedom for others they get twitchy. That’s why they advocate things like censorship, the anti-flag burning amendment, want a return to prayer in schools, want hightened security, stronger law-and-order, less forgiveness and more revenge.
16. Ultimately what really grinds my gears about the GOP is the hypocrisy. They talk about their love of freedom, smaller government and more fiscal responsibility, but they sure don’t show it. Even the religious side talks endlessly about God’s love, but they focus only on his revenge. It’s really sad.
The party of Lincoln and TR is virtually unrecognizable. If they don’t start to get their act together, and soon, they could wind up splitting into one extreme-right wing, neo-con style party and one more moderate sort of party; the kind people like McCain and Goldwater could support (those are the two I mention… guess what state I live in?). There are good things about the Republican Party, as I’ve said, but there’s lots of bad things, too. Some of that can change if they ditch the religious right, some of it is just built-in. All of it is why I’m likely never going to vote for a Republican.