Can you imagine?!? The most right-wing, retro-reactive president in our nation's history is considered too "liberal" by this group of fanatical purists. Bush was so right-wing (reich-wing?) that he actually made Nixon look pretty liberal. Even conservative Barry Goldwater would've been embarassed to know how far to the right Bush took the Republican party. And yet, these reactionaries think the way to win elections is by moving even further to the right!
So, these group of activists who make up the majority of the primary voters decided they've had enough of the "liberal" Republican Senator and found a candidate with conservative credentials to run in the primary against him. He saw the writing on the wall. His career since 1980 will be finished in 2010 if he remained in his party. What's the most logical step? Declaring himself independent of party and trying to run that way (a la Joseph Lieberman, who faced a liberal primary challenger in 2006 and lost his party's nomination, but decided to run as an independent and won reelection). However, that's still a risky move. His best bet was to cross the aisle and become a Democrat, where his views put him square in the middle (there are actual Democratic Senators more conservative than him). Plus, it gives the Democrats power as they creep closer to the filibuster proof 60%.
This move stunned the stupid Republicans because they obviously didn't consider that forcing him into a primary challenge from the right would force his hand and give it to the Democrats. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Kind of reminds me of the Republican Senator who switched in 2001 from Republican to Independent after President Bush insulted him, which ended up tipping the dead-even Senate to the Democrats by one vote.
With Senator Specter's announcement, Rush was quick to say "good riddance" with the advice to take Senator McCain and his daughter with him. What a pompous dick! He truly is such a "big, fat idiot."** The Republican Party is quickly becoming the world's shrinkiest party. We don't hear talk about "the big tent" anymore. In fact, I haven't heard Republican pundits use that term since their party went all anti-immigration in 2006. Their hope for having numbers to compete with the Democratic demographics was to earn the loyalty of a large block of hispanic voters. Their litmus test of being pro-life on abortion prevented Senator McCain from selecting Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison or Olympia Snowe, or former Governor Tom Ridge as running mates. Any of those VP choices would have gained him some much needed independent votes, whereas Palin's ideological purity (and Rush-approved endorsement) cost them respect, votes, and the "experience" argument.
The Republican insistence on conservative purity in their ideology reminds me of Soviet communists in the last days of the USSR. Die hard communist ideologues saw Gorbachev as a traitor to the party. Gorbachev was actually correct because he wasn't blinded by ideology. He knew what they all knew. Communism wasn't working by the mid-1980s. The common joke in the Soviet Union was "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work." Communist planned economies couldn't compete with the capitalist west. No where was this more starkly obvious than the two Germanys and the two Koreas. The communist counterparts in both nations fell far behind in standard of living than the capitalist counterparts. Something had to be done. Yet, for all Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika, the ideological communists believed that if communism was failing, it was only because true communism hadn't been tried.
What good is ideology if it leads you further and further away from rationality, facts, and the record? We have countless historical examples of right-wing economic policies (not just in our country during the Bush years, the Reagan/Bush years, the Nixon/Ford years, and the Hoover years, but also in Nazi Germany, Peronist Argentina, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain). Right-wing economics DOES NOT WORK people!!! The war mongering and tax cuts for the wealthy are the surest way to wreck an economy. Economic growth is spurred on by investments, incentives, and protecting the middle class from being fleeced by corporations or over-taxed by government. How many times are we going to have to go through a tricked-out economic scheme for evangelical conservatives to understand that they are only screwing themselves and their children's future livelihoods by drinking the poisonous Kool-Aid of Republican ideology?!?
I must say, however, that I am thrilled to watch the Republican Party self-destruct in such a daily fashion. Ever since Hurricane Katrina finally ripped the mask off of the ruse "compassionate conservativism" and revealed the true snarling demon beneath it (like those beautiful people who make up Al Pacino's firm in The Devil's Advocate). That is the true face of conservatism and it has been a non-stop parade of corruption scandals, sex scandals, hypocrisy, and blatant lying that didn''t fool anyone (except the die hard true believers). The constant parade of Republican self-immolation for the past three and a half years has been a small consolation for the nastiness they've unleashed on good people since their reign of terror began in 1994 with Gingrich's Republican Revolution that took control of the Congress away from Democrats for the first time in forty years.
Is it right to take pleasure (schadenfreude) in the destruction of a political party? A former friend had criticized me for it, saying that it wasn't very Christian...but, the way I see it...a bully deserves his comeuppance. In movies, audiences always cheer when bad guys get the justice due bill delivered by the hero at the end. In the fictional world and the sporting world, Americans seem to side with the underdog. However, when it comes to politics, too many Americans take the opposite view. They side with the bullies, even when the bullies' self-destruction leads to the destruction of our national village. What good is that? So, I think it is okay spiritually to be grateful that these bullies were their own worst enemies and destroyed themselves. Let's not ever forget what they did to our country, though, okay?
If the Democrats (my party) ever fall into the kind of arrogant hubris that the Republicans found themselves in from 2001-2006, I would hope that they, too, get the thumpin' they deserve. Our country is greater than either political party and my loyalty is to America first, before the Democratic party.
However, based on what I've learned since coming into political awareness in 1989...Republicans and Democrats are held to different standards and go by different set of rules. If a Democrat criticizes a Republican president, he or she is called a traitor or worse. If a Republican criticizes a Democratic president, he or she is considered a patriot. Republicans hold the Democrats in power to very high standards, while Democrats tend to cower and not hold Republicans to a high standard for fear of having their patriotism called into question. When a Republican politician has committed an act so hypocritical and outrageous that it can't be ignored by even the corporate media, the Republicans close ranks around the accused politician. In the Democratic party, they have no such loyalties (think John Edwards or Rod Blagojevich will ever get elected again? Only if they had chosen to be Republicans at the start of their careers!). To put it simply...Republicans are like sheep and the Democrats are like cats.
Seeing the self-destruction of the Republican party reminds me of how a runaway ego ends up destroying a person's life. When you live by complete ego and don't allow reality checks (whether through friends and family who keep you grounded, or by reading alternative opinions from your own, or by being exposed to different ideas), it's easy to become isolated and think you know everything and lose all touch with reality. We've seen this happen with O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. They went so far from reality that they lost any respect as well as their careers. Both men are walking punchlines for a Jay Leno joke.
Thus why the Republican Party has done itself a huge disfavour. It had become so arrogant during the Bush years, so obsessed with ideological purity that they could no longer see that the reality they believed in was not the same as the reality that the rest of the world lived. That's why they imploded like those Soviet communists who clung to their ideology. Ideology is the problem. It's always the problem.
I know evangelical Christians hate it, but...the Buddha learned from his own experience. He grew up in wealth, then gave it all up to live an asthetic life. What he found was that neither brought him close to enlightenment. His "eureka moment" occurred when he realized that moderation in all things was the proper way of being. A Greek philosopher wrote about "the Golden Mean." Moderation is a good thing. Take it from a liberal guy who has an incureable conservative nature. I believe that my natural conservative instinct keeps me from going off into the liberal extreme. My ideas on politics and spirituality might run more liberal than most people, but as I apply these ideas to my life, I find a balance that works. Moderation doesn't mean a compromise to one's morals...it just means that you're centered, grounded, able to see the dangers in following extremist ideologies.
Maybe the Republicans will have to go through their ideological purging and forty years in the political wilderness before they come to their senses and realize the wisdom in moderation. In the meantime, I welcome any of the remaining voices of reason within the Republican party to defect to the Democrats now. That means you, McCain, Hutchison, and Snowe. Abandon the sinking ship that the Republican Party is and join us on a new adventure towards the center. You have nothing to lose but your chains and a whole world to gain!
(** From above: the "big, fat idiot" line was from the title of Al Franken's 1996 book Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot. I read recently that there is speculation that the reason why Norm Coleman won't concede defeat to Senator-elect Franken is because of pressure from Rush Limbaugh, who does not want to see Franken become a Senator. It's all about ego! Rush, after all, led the charge in 2000 that Al Gore (who was ahead in votes nation-wide) was a "sore loserman" for pursuing legal action to count all the votes. Why the double standard? Isn't it obvious? It all boils down to a satirical book published a decade ago. Proof that Rush can't take a joke.)