2006

1 November 2006: New Day Dawning

A new day may be dawning

In last week’s Denver Post, Jessica Peck Corry of the Independence Institute wrote a column headlined “Still a Republican and still proud of it.” I found it strange in Karl Rove’s Era of the Permanent Republican Majority that anyone should feel a need to apologize for being one. Nonetheless, she did and offered a few examples of lesser-known Republicans with whom she is proud to be associated.

What is intriguing, though, were those she did not mention, such as John Andrews, formerly of the Independence Institute and the Colorado Senate, whose current thing is to castrate our tri-partite system of checks and balances. Before moving onto removing “activist judges” from the bench, Andrews found notoriety when he rammed through an unconstitutional, late-night, end-of-session gerrymander of Colorado’s congressional districts.

Another Colorado celebrity not named was Dr. James Dobson. After all, he has demonstrated considerable ability to get out “The Base” for his good friend “W” by attacking gays and lesbians and by proclaiming his preference and God’s will for people to suffer and die rather than to find cures through stem cell research.

An abridged list of Republicans of whom to be proud: the aforementioned Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, who teamed to out a CIA agent; former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney and fellow corporatists, including the now-deceased “Kenny Boy” Lay and soon-to-be-doing-time Jeff Skilling of the Enron scandal; former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Rep. Bob Ney, Rep. “Duke” Cunningham, and Rep. Mark Foley, doing time or facing legal woes; Jack Abramoff and David Safavian, serving time for corruption; personal attack specialists Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Ann Coulter; and the man himself, George W. Bush, who lied us into war. Quite a line up of “family values” heroes to choose from, don’t you think?

Since Ronald Reagan, the Big Tent Party has been taken over by three core groups: corporations, the Religious Right, and neo-cons with a loose network of anti-government wingnuts and “crackers,” bigots who hate gays, immigrants (legal or illegal), blacks, and women that don’t conform to traditional roles. While there’s overlapping membership, the interest groups periodically collide, thus the potential, according to polls, for the return to minority status of the PRM. So, what’s a normal, small-government, socially progressive, straight-laced, once-a-week-churchgoing Republican to do?

While the Republican Party has been on the trajectory of ideological purity since the Goldwater defeat, the Democratic Party, on the other hand, has evolved into the pragmatic, problem-solving party. Recently, Bill Clinton gave a speech in which he delineated the difference between philosophy and ideology. He posits that if we would look at problems through a philosophical lens rather than an ideological one with pre-set answers, we would be more willing to work with others with differing perspectives. The problem for today’s Republican Party is there is little room for problem-solving—it’s our way or the highway. But that’s not the American way. Traditionally, we are a common sense people; as history shows, it is the reason we got a toehold onto this challenging land.

Pollsters and pundits try to nail the sour mood of the electorate to an issue, primarily Iraq. But it’s much more. Bush fatigue has set in, and Americans in general and Coloradoans in particular are fed up with the heavy handedness and divisiveness of the Ruling Republican Majority. Governance from the base and fringe rather the center is being rejected by Americans as it was by Colorado voters in 2004. Ultimately, we’ll get back to the proposition that, for instance, a hetero agnostic and a gay fundamentalist have far more in common than differences. Besides, America has quite a few enemies without—many created as a result of Bush’s myopic foreign policy—so we can little afford to see each other as such within.

Finally, one outcome in Colorado may be an indicator of Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2008. If we pass Referendum I, the Domestic Partnership initiative, and defeat Amendment 43, which would etch marriage into our constitution, it would signal a new day in America—that Americans are prepared not only to allow gays and lesbians to move forward a few seats on the bus but also to let a woman drive it.

Ronald Reagan once proclaimed morning in America. After six years of tossing and turning and ghoulish nightmares, a new day may be dawning. It may be as the weird sister predicted in Macbeth that “the hurlyburly’s done.” OK, maybe I’m having a pipe dream, but as the old saw goes, “better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

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