Hi, my name is Chris. I’ve been a card-carrying Republican since I registered some twenty-four years ago. I realize you probably don’t recognize me because I’m standing in the middle of the road. There are actually a lot of us over here—not that you’ve been paying much attention to us because you seem so fixated on the Right these days.
You might not recognize me, either, because I don’t like circuses, and you have a really big one going on right now. I probably sound like the Party Pooper for even saying anything. Those of us in the middle of the road don’t tend to say much at all, actually. We don’t froth at the mouth, we don’t thump Bibles, we don’t want to crusade. We just want a good, sensible reason to vote for a good, sensible candidate.
Because you seem to have stopped paying attention to us in your attempts to pander to “the base,” you seem to forget just how many of us there are over here in the middle. And I hate to tell you this, but while you secure the base, you’re losing us. In the effort to find The Most Conservative Candidate, the party seems to forget that no one is going to vote for that candidate except The Most Conservative Voters—which is a pretty slim voting block if you come to your senses and think about it. Meanwhile, most of the rest of us are looking at the Right and feeling varying degrees of horror at the circus they’re forcing you to throw.
We want to vote Republican. Really, we do. Why are you making it so damn hard?
I’ve gotta be honest with you: most times, I feel a flush of embarrassment when I have to admit I’m a Republican. I’m sad to think that you probably don’t even care.
“Chris” stands for “Christopher,” not “Christian,” so that might also be why you don’t seem to pay much attention to me any more. I do believe in God, if that makes any kind of difference to you. I should probably wear that on my sleeve more, I suppose, and then maybe you’d ask me to the dance, but I believe in that great time-honored American tradition that we should all be free to worship to the dictates of our own free conscience. I’m a big fan of that whole “Freedom of Religion” thing that the Founders advocated in the First Amendment, the “wall of separation” between church and state advocated by Jefferson and, in the last century, reinforced by JFK (who, for the record, does not make me want to puke). If you really want a good lesson, you might even want to get yourself some really old-school Roger Williams, who pushed for separation since the 1630s.
I believe separation of church and state is right in line with what God wants, anyway. He did, after all, give us free will. It’s up to us, as individuals, to choose. I don’t want someone choosing my values for me—otherwise my conscience wouldn’t be my own and it wouldn’t be free. I believe a person should certainly be moral in the way he approaches his decision-making, but for you, Republican Party, that should not involve a religious component. The Institutions need to stay separate. I know most people on the Left worry about the church mucking up the state. I worry about the state mucking up the church just as much—for God’s sake,don’t tell me how to worship. All the more reason to keep church and state apart.
You seem to be so caught up in pandering to the Right on social issues that you forget you’re the party of smaller government. The surging insistence that the party pay attention to what’s going on in people’s bedrooms seems kind of contrary to that.
After all, that’s why I’m a Republican in the first place: in principle, I believe in a smaller government that does what only a government can do—defense, infrastructure, environmental resources, national parks. I think it’d be really great if the national government paid a little more attention to national parks instead of who’s using what form of birth control.
I’m a big fan of education. That should probably come as no surprise since I’m a college professor—which immediately paints me in your eyes as a Leftie pinko Commie Satan-worshipper who wants to corrupt the souls of children. I realize that education can be a scary thing for people not smart enough to think for themselves. Dogma is so much easier than critical thinking, and faith sure beats factual evidence every time, right? If the Good People of the Right are a God-fearing people, they seem to fear education even more. And you let them!
I do agree that not everyone should go to college. I see kids every day who are there because they’re expected to be, not because they want to be or even because they have the ability. I get that. I see why people mistrust the system, even if it’s based on a minority of negative examples.
But I see many, many more kids every day who are bright, talented, motivated, sharp, and creative—kids who want to make a difference. I believe in a government that wants to enable them to change the world, not one that wants to test the shit out of them until they vomit facts that they immediately forget after the test. I want a government that doesn’t want to crush the spirits of teachers and professors.
It probably wouldn’t redeem me any to admit that I teach at a religious-based university. That might pique your interest until I point out that it’s a Franciscan Univeristy, and everyone knows St. Francis was a flaming tree-hugger, which of course must make him a liberal. I do happen to think the environment is important, though. At the end of the day, I think it’s important to have clean air to breath and clean water to drink—you know, small things.
Certainly everyone in all those mid-western Red States you love so much must realize that almost all of them depend on the land for their livelihoods, so you think they’d show a little more concern about the environment, too. (I know, I know—I shouldn’t go imposing those kind of values on others, right?)
Of course, Jesus was a flaming liberal, too. Bigtime. I know some folks might actually be surprised by that since you’ve done such a great job branding him as The Protector of Wholesome Family Values™. He didn’t say, “Love people if they’re The Right Kind of People” or “if they belong to The Club.” It’s every neighbor for each other, man. He also said, “Give away all your money and help the poor.” It seems the Republican Party has been a little slower to adopt that particular philosophy, so I’m wondering just how cozy you are with the guy or whether we’re even talking about the same person.
I also believe in a little sensible gun control. I know the Second Amendment is more important than the rest of the Constitution to many folks on the Right, who all seem to have the wet dream of a land where everyone gets to walk around with concealed weapons. Ah, the good ol’ days…. Welcome back, Wild, Wild West!
Should any of the Red Staters you love so much decide to leave their mountaintop bunkers and sally forth into a Blue State inner-city, they’ll see that gun control issues there are entirely different than they are in the land of camo pants.
Can you tell me, honestly, that if the Founders had the kind of weapons we have today that they’d let everyone pack heat? Uh, uh, uh—before you answer, remember that these were the same people who kept the community’s flintlock muskets locked up in common arsenals. Is that somehow not gun control?
Once upon a time, the party would have described me as a fiscal conservative but a social moderate. There were plenty of great role models. You’re letting one of them, Olympia Snowe, walk out the door. Like the rest of us in the middle of the road, you were taking her for granted and now she’s walking out on you.
How soon before I do, too?
As I watch the current political freakshow, I can’t help but lament how far you’ve lost your way, Republican Party. I want the Grand Old Party of Teddy Roosevelt, who embraced progressivism. I want the Grand Old Party of Eisenhower, who warned of the evils of the industrial military complex.
I’d even settle for the Slightly-Less-Grand Old Party of Bush Senior, who wanted to enable a Thousand Points of Light.
Hell, I even bought into the “compassionate conservatism” of Bush Junior because I’d seen it in action in my own family and knew it was real. He was onto something with that. Why the hell did you let him start playing to everyone’s fears? You’re the party of Lincoln, for God’s sake. If ever a president gave Hope™, it was him, wasn’t it—he who spoke to the better angels of our nature?
I’m asking you to wise up. Please. I’m still feeling bad that I had to vote for John Kerry in 2004, but you didn’t give me any other choice. And then in 2008, that’s when I knew you had jumped the shark for real. McCain might’ve been worth looking at, but you put that crackpot Tina Fey impersonator on the ticket with him—do you think I give a fuck if she can see Russia from her house? That’s not the kind of shit I want just a heartbeat away from the presidency.
This year, you’re about to do it to me again. You’ll either choose The Most Conservative Candidate, who’ll make me and everyone else in the middle of the road vote Democratic again (or not turn out to vote at all), OR you’ll choose Mitt, who has contorted himself so badly to make his moderate record look like he’s The Most Conservative Candidate that we middle-of-the-roaders won’t vote for him because he’s spent the last eight months spewing bullshit and therefore has no credibility.
Wise up. Please. Stop pandering. Stop playing politics. Make the system work again. Those of us in the middle of road want a reason to vote, too—or, even better, a credible reason to believe again.