In the previous post, I expressed my intention to leave the Republican Party. Today, 38 years almost to the day after I joined the party, I made it official.
I chose to become unaffiliated rather than to join the Democrats.
Like many major decisions, it seems a lot more obvious in hindsight than it did in progress.
This post started out as what turned out to be a laundry list of Republican crimes dating to the 1980s. Screw that. I’ll just list, briefly, the things that directly affected my decision, either at the time or with the benefit of hindsight.
- The alliance of the party with a particular flavor of conservative Christianity that is foreign to the faith in which I grew up and a direct violation of Christ’s Second Great Commandment.
- Iran-contra and the scot-free escape of most of its figures.
- The 1995 GOP Contract on America.
- The impeachment of Bill Clinton.
- The disenfranchisement of thousands of Democratic voters in Florida in 2000 by Gov. Jeb Bush’s administration, an election theft amply documented in the first chapter of Greg Palast’s book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
- Bush v. Gore.
- The failure of Bush to prevent 9/11 and the refusal of his administration to cooperate fully with its investigation.
- The invasion of Iraq.
- The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts in the face of two wars.
- Warrantless domestic wiretapping.
- The 2005 full-frontal assault on Social Security.
- The 2008 crash, brought on largely by GOP policies on economics and regulation.
- The gross weakening of the 2009 stimulus package.
- The anti-science bias evident in everything from global climate change to renewable energy to evolution.
- The Hobby Lobby case in particular and the bias against safe, legal abortion and women’s rights in general.
- The opposition to the Affordable Care Act and the pointless dozens of efforts to repeal it.
- The defense of civilian-killing and -raping cops and the baseless denigration of the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Citizens United
- Shelby County v. Holder
And that’s just at the federal level. Here at the state level, the GOP list of sins since the party took power in 2010 includes screwing public teachers and gutting public education, installing an incompetent hack as president of the UNC system, gerrymandering an election system in place in which Republican legislators choose their constituencies, and vicious assaults on the state’s environment and its renewable-energy industry.
What tipped it for me was last Saturday. The GOP presidential debate devolved into a sandbox fight, and Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died.
The debate was like something The Onion would have conjured up. And Scalia’s death, and the sanctimonious outpourings about it, just reminded me yet again of what an intellectual grifter he was and how legally, constitutionally, politically, and morally corrupt his opinion in Bush v. Gore had been. That’s when I made the decision, and today I followed through.
So, you might ask, what in hell took you so long?
That’s a good question, and I don’t have a good answer. Part of it is loyalty. Part is inertia. Part is stubbornness. Part is the belief that I could effect more change from inside than out, although I probably gave up on that thought years ago.
You might also ask why I didn’t join the Democratic Party. And that might be an even better question than you know, because after all, detailed polling has shown that the so-called moderate middle is, today, largely a myth. Unaffiliated voters, among whom I now count myself, still tend to vote with one party or the other a large percentage of the time, crossing party lines only rarely. As a country, we are as deeply divided politically (and culturally) as we have been since the eve of the Civil War (and along the same geographic boundaries, although that’s a subject for a different post).
And the reason is fairly simple: For decades, the Democrats have demonstrated a remarkable ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I don’t know of a single Democrat at the national level who I believe has both the ability and the willingness to do the right thing most of the time. Indeed, among those I’ve known personally and/or online, I can point to only three: my longtime friend Mark Costley, who ran unsuccessfully for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District seat in 1996; state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro; and John Burns, currently a Wake County (N.C.) commissioner. There may be more, but I’m unsure of who they might be, and that, in itself, is a problem because I read pretty widely.
If you’ve read this far, you may have more questions; post in the comments and I’ll try to answer them. What I won’t do is be drawn into an argument. I’m a reasonably bright guy who has been around long time, who has spent decades observing politics up close, and who is perfectly capable of analyzing information and making a decision of this type without your “help.”
UPDATE, 2/19/2016: Some background.