Something in me snapped — or “a little light went on” — at George W. Bush’s Second Inaugural Address. “Self,” I said to myself. “This man is talking certified, 100%, gold-plated bilge water. And that’s not unusual. They all talk that way.”
But since I’m not an impetuous guy, I didn’t go cancel my voter registration, or repudiate the party in which I’m registered (or seem to be; I don’t remember doing more than consistently taking that party’s ballot in primaries).
No more. This is my personal declaration of independence. Enough time has passed that I’m confident my disgust is not a passing fancy. So I’m now politically independent.
What brought this on today?
Well, the thank you from Rep. Michelle Bachman — who I supported for her staunch pro-life stance, reinforced by an endorsement from the Susan B. Anthony List (whose endorsements I give considerable weight) — didn’t help.
The note thanked me for helping to deflect the relentless far left attacks, including “President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and numerous other far-left heavyweights” (emphasis added). “Far left” was repeated three times. General buzzwords like “constitutional conservative values” were larded in, too.
There was no mention of the pro-life issue, though I take care to let candidates know that the Susan B. Anthony list endorsement is what prompted a contribution. The tacit message was not “thank you for supporting my pro-life position.”
It was “thank you for enlisting in the far right Republican fight.” No, that’s not fair. It’s “thank you for enlisting in the mainstream, grass-roots, salt-o-the-earth Republican fight in opposition to the far left Democrats.”
Would it surprise you to know that a return envelope was included for my next donation? (If it woud, you must be very young or very unobservant.)
I have no problem with the idea that America remains a center-right nation and that, given today’s political spectrum, the GOP is a center-right party. Nor do I have a problem with the idea that the Democrats is a center-left party on today’s spectrum. (I could say a lot about the indequacies of bipolar political spectra, but in the aggregate, center-right and center-left seem fair descriptions.) I don’t even have a problem with the idea that Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama are left of their party’s center, which is already left of my tastes.
But Bill Clinton? “Far left”? Sexual sociopath, maybe, but not “far left.”
I resent the parties labeling each other, or labeling each other’s most prominent members, extremists, or far left, or far right. (“Sexual sociopath” is different. There’s abundant evidence for that.)
I resent the assumption that I’m buying no-cal cake just because I reject the siren song of fat-free ice cream.
Second, just this morning, I called out Congresswoman Bachman for lying. If it wasn’t intentional, then it was proof that her crap detector is seriously missing in action.
I don’t especially regret my contribution to Bachman. I knew she was controversial, and perceived as a bit of a loose cannon, when I sent my check.
I don’t really like the Susan B. Anthony List‘s “Votes Have Consequences” theme this year, which included defeating generally pro-life Democrats who voted for Obamacare, like Brad Ellsworth and Joe Donnelly. But I understand that somebody as smart as Marjorie Dannenfelser may know that retaliation for any betrayal is important to future credibility. As I say, I give their endorsements considerable weight.
Still, I didn’t support all their endorsements, including some Tea Party types who pegged my Goofy-o-Meter. I still require that a candidate be minimally credible to get my vote. Even if the other guy is pro-abortion. Especially if the other guy is just a flawed pro-lifer who caved to party pressure on one bill to which abortion was not central in most people’s eyes.
The pros like Dannenfelser can play hardball if they like, but they can’t make me play. Which brings me back to independence.
I’m not buying the nominally prolife GOP just because I reject the sincerely feticidal Democrats. There are other issues: empire, jingoism, peak oil, real fiscal reform of which neither party has proven capable. The preeminence of life issues for me can’t blind me to that.
Congressman Bachman’s on my watch list now. More mis-steps and I may let her many devoted fans (she set a new record for the “highest fundraising Congressional campaign in electoral history”) pull the load next time.
So, third, I don’t think either party requires minimum credibility. Maybe no party does. I looked pretty hard at third party platforms in 2008, and couldn’t find a home. I may take a fresh look at the Libertarians — not as where my heart and ideology are, but as maybe the closest approximation given the deep, deep problems with the two majors.
Postscript: Unbeknownst to me, 5 days before I posted this philosopher David B. Hart published a little essay on Anarcho-Monarchism. I’m home!