NEW YORK - I’ve been called a lot of things in my times, but never a liberal Democrat - until recently. In American political argot, `liberal’ means leftwing.
But some of my bigwig Republican pals in California have been accusing me of having become a liberal because of my criticism of Calamity George Bush and my evident lack of enthusiasm for Sen. John McCain’s Republicans.
As a lifelong Republican, I am more likely to become a Seventh Day Adventist or Rosicrucian than a liberal Democrat!
Call me a rogue Republican.
I’ve always been a moderate, conservative Eisenhower Republican who believes in small government, low taxes, saving, hard work, individual freedoms, and avoiding overseas adventures.
As a child, I saw President Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration in Washington and treasure the memory to this day. For me, Eisenhower was the embodiment of America’s finest qualities: courage, honesty, honor, human decency, modesty and plain speaking.
I’ve said it before and say it again: I like Ike. When Eisenhower was president, America was respected and admired around the non-Communist world.
I respect and admire Republican candidate Sen. John McCain and believe he would make a fine president. But he showed terrible judgment in picking Sarah Palin as Vice President, and by surrounding himself with neocon advisors like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Randy Scheunemann, Elliot Abrams and other extremists who played a major role in creating the frightful foreign affairs mess the US now faces. They have made America hated around the globe.
Equally bad, today’s Republicans are no longer a party of the democratic center. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush and Dick Cheney packed their administration with rabid neocon warmongers who drove the nation and Republican Party so far right it flirted at times with fascism.
When I hear `Republican’ these days, the words that comes to my mind are: arrogance, ignorance, and just plain dumbness.
Religious fundamentalists have become the bedrock of the Bush presidency. Today, 44-50% of Republican voters call themselves born-again Christian fundamentalists who believe every word of the Bible is true. Their most urgent foreign policy goal is to recreate Biblical Israel so their Messiah can return and destroy the planet. American supporters of Israel’s hard right Likud Party have made an alliance with these religious fundamentalists.
That is no longer my party. The Grand Old Republican Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Reagan has been hijacked by America’s rural heartland and the southern-fried Bible Belt. The Republican Party no longer primarily speaks for most educated, worldly city-dwelling Americans.
McCain’s choice of an evangelical Christian ultra conservative, Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman of stunning vulgarity and ignorance, is testimony to the dumbing down of the party and its transformation into a populist religious movement. But he may have had to do so. Without Palin, many on the Christian right would not have even voted, assuring defeat for McCain.
Note to friends and critics: I haven’t changed my politics and remain firmly in the center. But the Republican Party has lurched so far to the right that the old center looks like the left to many Republicans.
Barack Obama is dead wrong to propose raising taxes or sending more troops to Afghanistan, an ignoble conflict he mislabels `the good war.’ But he is no socialist, as Palin charges. Nationalizing the nation’s banks is socialist. Urging world domination is National Socialist. Raising taxes for the wealthy is not socialist, just a Democratic shibboleth that has been proven counter-productive time and again.
Republicans disgraced the nation by all their lies about Iraq, endorsing torture, assassinations, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, secret prisons, kidnapping, kangaroo courts, spying on US citizens and undermining America’s Constitution. Too many cowardly Democrats joined this lynch mob. Such vile behavior made me ashamed to call myself an American.
Republicans now speak for many rich fat cats, the military-industrial-petroleum complex, and some of the least educated, most backwards, most prejudiced Americans. McCain and Palin have shamelessly stoked anti-black, anti-Muslim and anti-foreign hatred and fear among them during this campaign. So, too, did Hilary Clinton.
Gen. Colin Powell did the right thing by breaking with John McCain, denouncing racism and Islamophobia, and warning of the party’s lurch to the far right. However, I wish he had also come clean re all the lies about Iraq he delivered at the UN. The good general still owes us an explanation.
America desperately needs a reborn, moderate Republican Party freed from narrow-minded religious ideology and ruralism that will return the nation to its former democratic values and decency. This was the United States the world used to respect.
If Obama wins office, I hope he will remember the sterling example set by President Eisenhower. I hope he also remembers Ben Franklin’s maxim that there is no such thing as a good war, or a bad peace.