21 October 2008

Fear and Loathing in the Republican Party

Navigating the Bad Craziness in the GOP

Once upon a time, long long ago, if you were in the military, you were a Republican by default. When I first joined the Navy, the Democrats sort of had an image problem as being a bunch of mealy-mouthed wimps looking to take away the right to bear arms and use taxpayer dollars to seduce vivacious looking young women while roasting an American flag. Clinton totally "gutting" the military in the 90s and getting weird with the large and in-charge Monica Lewinsky helped fuel this perception. In those days, the only reason I voted Libertarian was because of GOP support for the ill-advised drug war, but I pretty much told acquaintances at the time I was a Republican, because I was too damn lazy to explain the need for third parties in America. My line of thinking was pretty similar to what you would hear on right-wing radio pre-9/11 & pre-Bush. I saw the Republicans as the bastions of limited federal spending, individual rights, and a bad-ass national defense apparatus.

Oh, how the times have changed. The federal government has broken the $10 Trillion debt watermark with such ludicrous and wasteful spending measures it would make a Nigerian scam artist blush (the most recent bailout supported by Bush further exasperated my concerns). The Rumsfeld plan to turn our nation's military into an army of Mega-Mans outfitted with wizbang gizmos might have been swell for elite teams taking on the Predator, but it was a tremendous strategic error to not invest in all of our troops during wide-scale counter-insurgency operations. And now, it seems the Republicans are losing their military base, which is key for any political group seeking to be viewed as the "U.S.A. #1" party. Michelle Obama, once derided as a snooty Marxist plant, is really yukking it up with military families to offer support and empathy. And, the associated Blue Star Families for Obama seems like a respectable organization, and the only criticism I can levy against them is that they don't focus enough on single military personnel (a push for making the drinking age 18 would alleviate my concerns). In other words, the Obama aren't going to be labeled CHUDs anytime soon.

Then, this weekend, the final nail got whacked in the coffin with Colin Powell coming out for Sen. Obama. From CNN:
Powell told NBC's Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by the McCain campaign's attempts to associate Obama with former '60s radical William Ayers and some within the Republican Party -- but not McCain -- were making the assertion that Obama is "closet" Muslim.

"On the Republican side, over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party and Mr. McCain has become narrower and narrower," said Powell.
Rush Limbaugh foolishly implying that Colin Powell's decision was solely a function of race sure isn't sending any swing voters back to the GOP. Powell brings up an important point that using Palin as an attack dog against Obama has been an incredibly lame campaign strategy. I actually had some hope for her as an individual who could really shake up the party by distancing the Next Right from all the special interests groups that gum up the works, but, instead, she has resorted to zzz-inducing attacks about people from the city being anti-American and even has catered to fringe religious groups with her support for a federal marriage defense amendment. This hearkens back to what made me dislike the GOP in the first place. Endlessly distracting the party base with non-issues about all brown people needing to speak English and the so-called insipid invasion of Islamic culture on our shores, while real issues like war and the economy went unnoticed and unquestioned. I guess I'm not Islamaphobic about Muslim-Americans, primarily because I was in LA when 9/11 happened, and most Muslims were wondering why the Taliban hadn't been nuked yet. Well that and the fact that winning against extremists requires the support of a moderate population in foreign lands (often with a large Muslim demographic). Sure, I'm just some schmuck with a blog comparable to a 13-year old's MySpace page, but if the Republicans got back to the basics (namely limited federal spending, individual rights, and a bad-ass national defense apparatus), maybe I'd consider voting for them. Maybe some other people would too.