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Republican For the Wrong Reasons

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While many who read my writings tend to assume that I'm a partisan Democrat, I was registered Independent for most of my adult life. I'm not one to follow any crowd. However, I did switch to Democrat a few years ago, so that I could vote in the 2004 primary elections in 2004. Now I think it's time to switch back to Independent status, given how the new Democratic majority in Congress have shirked their mandate and sold out to the Bush regime. In choosing a party affiliation, I believe that it's important to consider what each party really stands for. That takes some serious research and critical thought, since actions speak louder than words (especially where politicians are concerned). Apparently, however, some people give it very little thought, if any at all. I recently spoke with four Republicans about why they registered Republican and why they staunchly vote along party lines in just about every election. It's clear that they're Republican for the wrong reasons, yet they cling strongly and stubbornly to that label because of what they think it means. First let's look at the case of Tara, whose husband owns and manages a small pub in a rural area in northern Pennsylvania. Tara explained that they vote Republican, "of course", because they're business owners. What Tara is too naive to realize, though, is that the Republican Party (or at least in its most recent forms) is about big business, not small businesses. The Bush administration in particular works to line the pockets of the richest CEOs who so generously fund the Republican Party. With small businesses, George W. Bush talks a good game, but talk is cheap. Bush and his Republican cronies are no friends to small business. Still, Tara refuses to think about it. Next, I talked with Sally. Sally has spent the past two decades working in the banking and investment industries. Sally is a Republican because, "As everyone knows," she tells me, "the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility." Oh, really? I asked her, then, to explain the fact that President Clinton left this nation with the largest budget surplus in history, which George W. Bush promptly turned into the largest deficit in history. When I pointed this out to Sally, her only response was a very defensive warning that Hillary Clinton, if elected, will raise our taxes. As if "tax-and-spend" democrats are somehow worse than the "borrow-and-spend" Republicans of today. I didn't waste my time pointing out that Bush's tax cuts benefit primarily the very, very rich. While Sally is making a comfortable living, she is certainly not one of those who would benefit from Bush's tax agenda. Still, Sally refuses to think about it. Republican #3 is Emilio, a Cuban-American and a successful salesman for a small company in a large U.S. city. Emilio told me that he is a Republican because "all Cuban-Americans are Republican." However, Republicans seem to be the ones campaigning against immigration to the U.S. by Latinos. When I pointed this out, Emilio brought up Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, as if there were some connection. And the Lewinsky affair appears to be the defense of choice for Republicans whenever they are confronted with the horrible truths about the real nature of the GOP. Consider my fourth Republican subject, Bill. Bill supports the GOP because, he tells me, "It's the party of family values." Clinton's affair again. But, like many, he turns a blind eye to the many indiscretions of his Republican heroes. Allow me to cite just a few: - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, married three times, not only had affairs but also served his first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer treatments. - Former Congressman Mark Foley spent a lot of his time hitting on teenage male pages. - Rev. Ted Haggard, evangelical minister to George W. Bush, was busted for a three-year sexual relationship with a male "massage therapist". And these cases are merely the tip of the iceberg. But, to the Republican loyalists, it all pales in comparison to Bill Clinton's acts of consensual adult extramarital fun. It is said that democracy requires an educated electorate. But clearly we don't have that to the extent that we should. And, therefore, I'm afraid we do not have a true democracy. -----

 

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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 

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