I made the phone call just a little over an hour ago, but itâ€™s been on my mind for some time now. I called the State Board of Elections and asked the good folks there to send me Form HGQ-71984563 (not its real name), or whatever form they send out, when Pennsylvanians want to change their political affiliation. Iâ€™m ready to pull the trigger.
For a long time, Iâ€™ve been a card-carrying Reagan Republican. Iâ€™ve never voted for a Democrat in my life, and I say that unashamedly, quite frankly. To be sure, there are some fine people within the Democratic party, and had I lived in Pennsylvania during Bob Caseyâ€™s runs for office, I might well have pulled the lever marked â€œDâ€. But I didnâ€™t, and I really doubt in the post-Clinton era that Iâ€™ll ever be seriously tempted to vote for anyone from the party which tolerated his (and the missusâ€™) contemptible behavior.
Now, thatâ€™s not to say that Iâ€™ve pulled the â€œRâ€ lever every time, not by a long shot. Mr. Ridge managed to be elected Governor of this state twice sans my vote, and Mr. Specter can expect the same treatment from me as well when I stand in the voting booth. When the outcome of the 1996 presidential race was no longer in doubt, I resolved not to waste my vote on Mr. Dole (a fine man, but hardly presidential timber), preferring instead to, in my own way, â€œsend a messageâ€ to the Republican party about nominating better-fit people for the office.
I confess, I was awash in optimism at the prospect of the 1994 Republican â€œContract With Americaâ€ engineered by Mr. Newt, and as the â€œconservativeâ€ (alert: those quotation marks constitute â€œforeshadowingâ€) tide rolled into Congress. I was naÃ¯ve enough to think that things might really change in Washington. Yeahâ€¦the Republican majority in the House has changed Washington, just like Al Gore (please hold down those snickers!) â€œre-invented governmentâ€.
I was probably eight years old when I ditched my belief in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. I think I likely held onto Santa until I was nine or ten, probably out of sheer wishful thinking. At 41, I am letting go of the idea that the Republican party stands for â€œlimited governmentâ€. This, too, is a myth, yet a far more dangerous one than believing in an egg-laying hare or a harmless little fellow who pays good money for used molars.
The fact of the matter is that the Republican party, as it is now constituted, stands for massive government (while, of course, the Democratic party stands for gargantuan government).
I fully recognize the â€œswimming against the tideâ€ nature of my decision. Certainly, George W. Bush is enjoying massive popularity at the moment, and I will give him good marks for his firm handling of the efforts to stamp out terrorism. Further, after we handed the keys to the country to a teenager for eight years and invited him to take it for a spin, itâ€™s nice to have a grownup in the Oval Office. By all accounts, President Bush is an eminently decent man; as a Christian, I am disposed to believe, by the evidence I see, that he is a serious man of faith and prayer. And he is a man for whom I enthusiastically cast my voteâ€”so I guess you can blame me.
All of that being said, it was his State of the Union address which was for me the final (though certainly not the only) straw. Sure, he said all of the right things about family and country and beating bad guys, but what particularly draws my ireâ€”and confirms the words of Larry Elder, who wrote in The Ten Things You Canâ€™t Say in America that there might be â€œa dimeâ€™s worth of differenceâ€ between Republicans and Democratsâ€”is the fact that he proposes continuing the growth of the federal government. There he was, proposing to increase the Peace Corps and the Senior Corps and Clintonâ€™s AmeriCorps and the Apple Corps and whatever other corps could be dredged up, all coming with a greater price tag for the American people. This, of course, comes on the heels of the Education Bill fiasco, in which the reach of the federal government was extended even further into the arena of education. Hint, Mr. President: when Teddy Kennedy wants to be your bestest buddy, itâ€™s not time to exult in â€œbi-partisanshipâ€: itâ€™s time to run screaming to the hills! This, of course, followed the unconstitutional bailout of the airlines, not to mention some constitutionally-questionable tactics in combating terrorism, which followedâ€¦well, you get the picture.
If the Republicans want to stand for limited government, let them begin to push for the abolition of the IRS, which is way past overdue. Let them close down the many unconstitutional governmental departments, starting with Education and extending to Commerce, HUD, and Health and Human Services. Let them get rid once and for all of the heinous National Endowment for the Arts, and the Civil Rights Commission with it. Let them actually do something to reform Social Security instead of just gabbing about it. Let them remember that the Constitution actually has a Tenth Amendment. Currently, they are doing none of these things.
Where will I go? Not sure yet. If the Founding Fathers could be miraculously resurrected, theyâ€™d not go within miles of the Republican Party; of course, it goes without saying that nary a one would be a Democrat. Frankly, theyâ€™d probably be Libertarians, a party which actually believes that the Constitution ought to be taken seriously; I just itch at the thought of some of the bedfellows Iâ€™d be yoking up with if I joined the Libs. But I might do it anyway, or just become an independent. Regardless, enough is enough with the Republicans. You guys call me again when you want to get serious.