August 24, 2013

Past Lessons Remembered

“…we know without a doubt that Republican ideas of more freedom and less taxes — while sounding good and repeated by any and all candidates – are in fact, worth no more than the paper that they are written on.”

These are words written by 13 life-long members of the Maine Republican Party… officials within the party… as they resigned that membership and walked away from the former Grand Old Party.

In the letter (full text below) dated August 18, 2013, the former Republicans outline many of the same grievances expressed over the past several years by this writer. The defectors feel that the party of their fathers has lost sight of the goal; that there is an element within the modern GOP that has forsaken the true meaning of conservatism and steered the party into the netherworld of bigotry, divisiveness, social engineering, irrational spending and blatant unconstitutional actions. 

That last sentence at one time described Southern Democrats… The Party of Jackson... but those roles reversed shortly after Jack and Bobby Kennedy went to Washington.

The campaign for the Presidency in the waning years of the Eisenhower Administration illustrated all to well a schism within the Democrat Party… with much of the divisive rhetoric emanating from Southern Democrats. Jack Kennedy was Catholic, and there had never been a Catholic elected to high office. The last one to try was Al Smith in 1928. Fear mongers mindlessly and endlessly promoting the trope that the Pope would be running the White House if Smith won proved effective. Southern Democrats sat out the election and Smith was crushed… Hoover took the White House and the nation sunk into the Great Depression. The only winner in that election was bigotry.

32 years later another Catholic found himself fighting the very battles that sunk Al Smith. The dirty tricks weren’t as effective this time and Mr. Kennedy went on to win the Presidency in the closest election in history. Mr. Kennedy won 49.7% of the popular vote to Nixon's 49.5% with Kennedy polling only about 100,000 more votes than Nixon out of over 68 million votes cast. Nixon won more states than Kennedy but the Electoral College awarded the election to Kennedy by a 303-219 margin. The only southern states not called for Nixon were Mississippi and Florida. Anti-Catholic bigotry is blamed for a million and a half lost votes.

Three assassinations, two paradigm changing bills, an impeachment leading to the only resignation of a sitting president and a whole bunch of cross burnings later finds the freedom loving folks of the U.S.A. still fighting the battles of social injustice and fiscal conservatism. The political party names and the memes spouted haven’t changed, but the demographic certainly has. The once fiscally conservative GOP still proudly wears the mantle of conservatism, but has forgotten what that word really means. Many of those calling themselves Democrat still shout for social justice, but their actions seem more inclined toward social control.

Where once the southern bigots were the tail wagging the Democrat’s dog, following a decade of country-shaking events they abandoned the Democrats for the GOP. The Party of Eisenhower became infested with the parasites of the Party of George Gordon and John Clinton Porter.

Those of us in the middle… moderates yearning for a day when the search for social consciousness, constitutional justice and conservative fiscal policy can be balanced by compromise… find ourselves politically homeless.

Of the two available options, some choose simply to check None of the Above, but is that a logical option? The pragmatist’s answer is a resounding NO! Opting out and wasting a vote may make a valiant statement, but it solves no problem. The only real solution is to hold nose, vote for a candidate with whom one cannot 100% agree because that candidate represents a less oppressive path, and then work from within to weed out blind partisanship and taking a stand against hatred, bigotry and divisiveness.

The promise of Eisenhower conservatism has been lost in the swill of religio-political rhetoric, as the modern GOP has become the spend-spend-spend party of no compromise tirelessly struggling to elevate the almighty corporation to the tyrannical level we see today. Damn near every major Republican effort since the McCarthy/Nixon era has concentrated on things and people of which we should be afraid, why we should hate certain elements within our own house, constantly starting wars justifying the need to give more money to the defense industry corporatists.

Every Republican Administration from Reagan through George W. Bush has dramatically increased the war budget, increased the deficit and pushed the country into further debtor status, yet the echo machine perpetuates the myth that the Democrats are the party of tax & spend and the meme that the deficits created by their own party are actually the responsibility for the Democrats. Facts prove this to be a lie, but corporate puppets never let facts get in the way of a good myth while blinder-wearing sheep wag tail and follow.

Last month a Pew study found 54% of self-identified Republicans believed that the GOP should “move in a more conservative direction” and 35% feel that Republicans compromise “too much” with Democrats. Less than half of GOP voters, 40%, say they feel the GOP should become more moderate and 27% felt their party hadn’t compromised with Democrats enough.

The reason we are seeing high profile defections from the GOP is represented by that poll. No reasonable human can fail to notice the blinders of a demographic a third of which believes Republicans compromise “too much”.

Further evidence of the blindness endemic in the GOP herd was evidenced in the results of a Public Policy Poll of Louisiana residents in which a greater number of respondents blamed Barak Obama for the poor response to the hurricane Katrina disaster than blamed George W. Bush.

The full text of the letter referenced above follows. Emphasis I've added it to illustrate where I find agreement. My more liberal friends will likely take issue with the fact that I agree with them on the gun legislation and that the FDA sometimes oversteps, but if so you need to understand that being a moderate means supporting our Constitution, regardless of emotion. 

August 18, 2013

To Maine State GOP Secretary Chuck Mahaleris:

There are times in your life when you must choose between two paths.

The first path, if taken, would require us to remain within the Republican Party despite the fact that we know without a doubt that Republican ideas of more freedom and less taxes — while sounding good and repeated by any and all candidates – are in fact, worth no more than the paper that they are written on.

The second path leads to a principled preservation of our individual integrity, helping out our fellow citizens at the local level, and doing our level best for our Creator, our families, and our friends.

We have therefore chosen to follow the path of the latter.

Effective immediately, we the undersigned are unenrolling from the Maine Republican Party. Furthermore, those of us who hold official Party positions, be they at the Republican National, State, County or even Town Committees, hereby resign. Our reasons for doing so are as follows:

The RNC:

At the RNC, we have fought the good fight and kept the faith with regards to the rules. The Resolution that was passed in January 2013 by the Maine Republican State Committee put the RNC on notice that the grassroots were listening (and watching), leading to the rules battles which have taken place consistently since the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. The duplicity and lack of political courage which has been on display in this matter has sealed the fate of this Party.

Furthermore, it has become clear to us now that the RNC has no intention of reforming and would rather fly under invalid rules than to right the wrongs of Tampa. We therefore cannot, in good faith, support or defend the actions of the RNC. To violate our consciences and support those actions would make us part of the problem – especially after we clearly provided and handed the RNC the solution which was flatly rejected. The RNC now owns their demise.

Congressional Republicans:

In the House of Representatives, the cowardly leadership of John Boehner reached a new low in December 2012 when he purged the most fiscally conservative GOP members from leadership positions, citing their “unwillingness to be team players.” Political punishment such as this from Speaker Boehner has garnered justifiable rage from conservative groups, and from us, as we expected better.

Furthermore, the House Republican leadership’s utter disdain for the United States Constitution, specifically the 4th Amendment, was on full display as they worked overtime to kill the Amash Amendment which would have gone a long way toward constraining the NSA to the boundaries of the Constitution and seriously curbed their ability to conduct mass surveillance of Americans. Be it known that we cannot and will not support nor defend these actions.

In the United States Senate, we see Republicans all too willing to pass unconstitutional bills related to subjects such as the Internet Sales Tax and Immigration. Whether through arrogance or ignorance, they fail to understand the simple fact any revenue generating legislation must originate in the House of Representatives.

Additionally, the Senate Republicans continue to support undeclared wars, meet in secret and supply arms to our “terrorist enemies” who we vowed to destroy after 911, and then tell us they love our troops – so long as it’s our kids and not theirs who have to go fight.

Lastly, all too many Senate Republicans are more than willing to pass new “feel good” gun control legislation that would do nothing to stop another Sandy Hook massacre, all the while restricting 2nd Amendment rights of law abiding American citizens. We cannot support nor defend these actions in good faith.

Maine Republican Legislators:

In Maine, the Republican legislators in the House and Senate failed to sustain the Governor’s veto on one of the most important pieces of legislation of the 126th. Maine Republicans were justifiably outraged, especially at those legislators who campaigned on lower taxes.

We have been told that many donors have refused to donate one more cent to the MEGOP due to this budget debacle, but nevertheless we are expected to ignore these facts and get out there and raise funds for the party. This we cannot do in good faith; the Republican Party has lost its way and the donors know it.

The LePage Administration:

Not to be outdone by the legislators, this Administration’s support for Common Core Education Standards, the Internet Sales Tax, the atypical meddling in the business of the Maine State Committee, as well as the vetoes of the Drone and Cell Phone bills left many of us incredulous.

However, the straw that broke the camel’s back for many of us was the veto of LD 1282 (the “Raw Milk Bill”) and those who voted to sustain it: a sad day indeed for the small farmers of Maine. We want our God-given rights to buy, sell and consume what we want protected by the law – not restricted by FDA or USDA directives. These actions we cannot explain nor defend in good faith – the Republican Party has lost it’s way.

Therefore, for the above-stated reasons, we can no longer allow ourselves to be called nor enrolled as Republicans; we can no longer associate ourselves with a political party that goes out of its way to continually restrict our freedoms and liberties as well as reaching deeper and deeper into our wallets.

We instead choose the path that focuses on ways to help our fellow Mainers outside of party politics.

Some of us may be town officers or board members. Some of us may leave all options on the table with regards to running for higher office as Independents.

Some of us may be small farmers and gardeners who desire to help feed their communities.

Others may simply want to just get part of their life back, catching up and spending more time with friends and neighbors.


Republican National Committee Member:Mark Willis, Washington County

Maine Republican State Committee Members:Thomas Barry, Androscoggin County

Ann-Marie Grenier, Cumberland County

Gregory Hodge, Lincoln County

Olga LaPlante, Cumberland County

Russell Montgomery, Knox County

Violet Willis, Washington County

Maine Registered Republicans:

Sam Canders, Penobscot County

Bryan Daugherty, Penobscot County

Maria Hodge, Penobscot County

Randall J. Grenier, Cumberland County

L. Scott D’Amboise, Androscoggin County

Debbie D’Amboise, Androscoggin County