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“Why I’m Ashamed To Be Republican”: We’ve Become A Party That Preys On The Discouraged, Not One That Fosters Hope

Noticing the growing pile of rejected dresses, the saleswoman asked me what I was shopping for. I responded, “I know what I want, I just can’t seem to find it. Something conservative but cute, shorter than work length, longer than club length. I’m not opposed to a romper, but don’t really want a skirt. Help.” She laughed and asked me if I was shopping for a specific event. The words formulated in my brain but I couldn’t get them out. I didn’t want to tell her.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend reunion of my colleagues from the Bush-Cheney administration at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, but I didn’t want to say that. “A company picnic,” I said, “Nothing too riveting, but I’ll see co-workers I haven’t seen in a while.” As I looked in the mirror (having found the perfect shirt dress), I thought: Why did I say that? This event was exciting; I was going to see a former president, vice president, first lady and countless friends. When did I become so embarrassed to be a Republican?

I grew up in a conservative, Catholic family. I remember voting for President George H.W. Bush in my school’s straw ballot in the 1980s. I’ve voted mostly with the party over the years. I joined the College Republicans and planned rallies for the troops, went to seminars on entrepreneurship and volunteered for Sen. Jim Talent’s reelection campaign in Missouri. I swear I bled little red elephants. Following graduation, I worked on President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign in Florida and fell further in love with politics, the party and the process. I worked on the Presidential Inaugural Committee and was honored to receive an appointment in Bush’s administration. We even had a softball league. Some of my fondest memories are from those years; it was an incredible time to be alive. I was (and still am) truly proud to have been a part of it all.

As the years passed, though, I became more liberal on social issues, not understanding why my best friend from college couldn’t marry his longtime boyfriend. I struggled with the line between the right to life and a woman’s right to make her own decisions about what to do with her body. I read and reread the Constitution, studied the Federalist Papers and came to better understand the ideals on which our nation was founded. I quickly learned what it was like to make $30,000 a year in the District (along with the necessity of having multiple roommates).

I shifted closer to the middle, but there was still so much about the Republican Party that I loved. It was the party that fought to give more funding, better equipment and training to my husband — a Navy pilot. The party that pressed for veterans’ health reform. The party that gave us a president who delivered the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program to combat HIV in Africa. The party that encouraged and promoted the growth of small businesses.

But more than anything, it was the people. My colleagues in the Bush administration were compassionate, innovative and enthusiastic. We were men and women of various ages, demographics and backgrounds, woven together by our common belief in a president, a mission and, above all, the importance of character. The hours were long, but the years went fast. At the opening of Bush’s presidential library in Dallas three years ago, I was again surrounded by those colleagues. When President Obama was introduced, every person in attendance rose in thunderous applause. I realized then what made that group of colleagues so special: our respect for the office of the president.

Three years later, at this month’s reunion, tears came to my eyes as I listened to Bush speak about what made our country great. We fought for inclusion, not isolationism. We were patriots, not protectionists, and we worked to advance freedom, not fear.

I was proud to be a Republican. The GOP I worked for, fundraised for and fundamentally believed in put forward candidates who reflected my values. But now? I’m embarrassed to be a Republican because of who is leading in the polls. We’ve become a party that preys on the discouraged, not one that fosters hope. We’re incentivizing anger, not integrity. We tear down others to promote ourselves. If our current front-runner is the GOP candidate, I won’t vote Republican in November. I’m still stuck in that dressing room: I know what I want. I just can’t seem to find it.

 

By: T. T. Robinson, Author of the New York Times Deployment Diary and a political correspondent for NextGen MilSpouse; The Washington Post, April 24, 2016

April 25, 2016 Posted by | Bush-Cheney Administration, Donald Trump, GOP, Republicans | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“A More Extreme Place”: Mitt Romney Is Not George W. Bush, He’s Worse

Much to Democrats’ chagrin, George W. Bush hasn’t played much of a role in larger 2012 political conversation. His name was rarely uttered during the Republican presidential primaries; the failed former president hid during the party’s national convention; and Mitt Romney did his level best to ignore the news when Bush endorsed him.

It came as a pleasant surprise, then, when a voter broached the subject last night. She noted she’s been “disappointed with the lack of progress” over the last four years, but she’s afraid of going back to Bush-era policies and wanted Romney to explain how they’re different.

Romney responded by answering a previous question about contraception. When he got around to responding, Romney stressed oil drilling and trade as examples of why “President Bush had a very different path for a very different time” — despite the fact that Romney and Bush have the same positions on oil drilling and trade.

What struck me as interesting was Obama making a counter-intuitive point — he said Romney and Bush are different, but Romney is worse:

“You know, there are some things where Governor Romney’s different from George Bush. George Bush didn’t propose turning Medicare into a voucher. George Bush embraced comprehensive immigration reform; he didn’t call for ‘self-deportation.’ George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

“So there are differences between Governor Romney and George Bush, but they’re not on economic policy. In some ways, he’s gone to a more extreme place when it comes to social policy, and I think that’s a mistake.”

Now, when I heard the question, my first thoughts turned to the fact that Romney has surrounded himself with former Bush/Cheney aides who are shaping a Bush/Cheney platform. Obama didn’t mention this.

But in some ways, the president’s response was even more effective: if you loved Bush’s economic policies, but didn’t think he was right-wing enough on Medicare, immigration, and women’s health, then Mitt Romney’s the candidate for you.

I have a hunch the woman in the audience who posed the question wasn’t reassured.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 17, 2012

October 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tea Party: The Welfare State Is Out Of Control But Leave “My” Medicare Alone

About a month ago, Politico ran a much-discussed piece, insisting that the Republican Party and its base have become “fanatically anti-spending.” Tea Partiers, the article added, are obsessed with “cut, cut, cut,” and “taking a cleaver to government spending.”

I’ve pushed back against this, but a new Marist poll out today makes this much easier. The poll asked respondents:

“Do you support or oppose doing each of the following to deal with the federal budget deficit: cut Medicare and Medicaid?”

Among all registered voters, 80% opposed these cuts. Among self-identified Tea Party supporters, 70% opposed these cuts. Among self-identified Republicans, 73% opposed these cuts.

We’re talking about taxpayer-financed, socialized medicine, which Tea Partiers should oppose reflexively if they’re desperate to “cut, cut, cut.”

Except, they’re not.

When pressed on the radical nature of their agenda, congressional Republicans consistently claim the “American people” are on their side, even suggesting they have a popular mandate to pursue drastic policy measures that voters didn’t know about last year. But the data is hard to ignore — not only does the American mainstream oppose GOP cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, but even the Republicans’ own base isn’t on board.

I often think of this piece from Matt Taibbi, who attended a Tea Party rally last summer.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

“Well,” he says, “there’s a lot of people on welfare who don’t deserve it. Too many people are living off the government.”

“But,” I protest, “you live off the government. And have been your whole life!”

“Yeah,” he says, “but I don’t make very much.”

 The point is that congressional Republicans are desperate to make devastating cuts, and think they’re on safe political ground. GOP officials might be surprised to learn just how many Americans rely on government spending, and want to keep the benefits that apply to them.

By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly, Political Animal, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Conservatives, Deficits, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Medicaid, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Seniors, Tea Party, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Senate Women “Drew Line In The Sand” On Budget Talks

Female members of the U.S. Senate made clear Friday that they have no intention of “throwing women under the bus” by giving in to Republican demands to approve several policy riders attached to a budget bill designed to keep the federal government operational.

“Since they (Republicans) don’t know how to create jobs, they’ve changed the topic to their radical approach to the budget,” said U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland). “And it is radical. They’ve cut $1 billion at the National Institutes of Health, $1 billion dollars from Head Start, $50 million from prenatal care — the changed the topic from jobs since they didn’t know how to do it.

“Then they said, ‘Oh, we are going to fight to bring down the debt and the deficit.’ And that hasn’t worked out because, to their surprise, we had specific, immediate, achievable ways to become a more frugal government. Since they lost that fight, they want to change the topic again so that all we are talking about is a radical, ideological agenda in riders. … Let’s get back to what we should be talking about: How to avoid a shutdown.”

The numerous policy riders attached to the bill, Mikulski said, can be voted on another day, and do not have to be a part of a budget discussion.

Perhaps the most contentious of the riders attached by the GOP is a complete ban of all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“This is not about abortion,” said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York). “Republicans need to wake up. Since the Hyde Amendment of the last 30 years, federal money does not pay for abortions in this country. What they are cutting in this bill is the safety-net for poor, at-risk women for pre-cancer screenings, for prenatal care, for early detection of STDs — for all the types of safety-nets that keep our families safe.

“This is unacceptable and we will draw the line in the Senate.”

The frustration being voiced by the women of the Senate was also present in a prepared statement issued Friday by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, a Democrat who represents Iowa’s 2nd District.

“As a government shutdown looms, politicians in Washington are still wrapped up in political Russian roulette where the clear loser is Iowans,” Loebsack said. “Instead of shutting down the government in an effort to restrict women’s access to health care, we need to think about our military families who are worried about how they are going to put food on the table, even while their loved ones are defending our nation overseas.

“A government shutdown can still be averted, but the grandstanding and misplaced debates about social policy must be put aside. We must work together toward a compromise that addresses the needs of our constituents, and keeps our economic recovery on track. Time is running short — I call on Congress and the President to put our constituents ahead of politics.”

In a Facebook posting Friday, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland called the situation “an outrage” that “hurts women,” and noted that more than 54,000 women in Iowa and Nebraska would lose access to screenings and preventative health care if the policy rider barring federal money for Planned Parenthood remains intact.

Although the policy rider in connection with Planned Parenthood has been one of the most discussed and contentious items attached to the budget bill, it is far from the only attachment to H.R. 1, the continuing resolution passed by the U.S. House on Feb. 19. Other riders have included a prohibition of funding for the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, limitations on the FDA’s ability to transfer funds, stalling a transfer from the Federal Reserve for the creation of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and development of a government-sponsored “consumer products complaints database,” prohibits funds for the U.S. Department of Education for regulations on Gainful Employment, stalls funding for several environmental and conservations programs including the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, prohibits funding for the implementation of health care reform provisions, halts funding for capital advances or rental assistance contracts for HUD Housing for the Elderly projects and bars the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

By: Lynda Waddington, The Washington Independent, April 8, 2011

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Abortion, Budget, Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democrats, Economy, Environment, GOP, Government Shut Down, Health Care, Ideology, Planned Parenthood, Politics, Right Wing, Senate, Women, Women's Health, Womens Rights | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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