I describe myself as a political moderate. I am passionate about the issues I care about, but the issues that I care about are neither strictly Liberal nor strictly Conservative. It is also notable that neither Liberal or Conservative ideals have a real home any more. The Liberal platform is better represented by the Democratic Party, but the Conservative platform has all been but abandoned by the Republican Party, save for wedge moral issues.
In 2000, I wanted to vote for John McCain. I felt he had a decent, independently thinking outlook, that he was the guy for the job. I wasn't fond of former VP Gore, but mostly because his name was stuck my head as associated with Tipper Gore, his wife, who tried to put music lyrics on trial.
I ended up not voting in that election.
In 2008, McCain was not the man he was in 2000. He sounded more like a party hardliner and, frankly, like he really wanted to be doing anything else but running on the legacy of President Bush. I voted for President Obama because I felt he could repair the damage to our foreign policy the jingoistic previous administration had done and I approved of his vision for the American economy much more so than I did of the Republicans.
This year, there is no changing my vote: I'm going with the Democrats again. I am singularly unimpressed if not offended by Governor Romney. He might be a fine gentleman, but he's presented no clear vision for what his hypothetical presidency might accomplish and has failed to convince me that he wants anything other than the prestige of the office and that he's willing to say just about anything to make that happen, regardless of whether or not the people who get him there have the best interests of the country at large in mind.
But still, I haven't abandoned the idea that there could be a Conservative voice worth listening to. Unfortunately, it would take a pretty big overhaul to the Republican platform. I think, however, I am not alone in that I would vote Republican if they stood for what they so nostalgically say, but never demonstrate, is the soul of their party.
Here are the things they could do to win me back:
1. Back the hell away from gay marriage: It's happening. It will continue to happen. It will not destroy the country. It will not erode our national values. It will allow people who love each other to enjoy a legally protected status that would recognize the way in which they already live.
And preventing it is an example of government being the problem, of getting in the way of people living their lives. Which is what you say you're against.
2. Same with abortion: No one wants babies to die. That is not, no has it ever been, in question. Where we disagree is when what grows in a mother's womb stops being a simple mass of living tissue and becomes a person, distinct in not only space, time, and genetics, but in essence and personality.
I think since the question of when that demarcation arrives is answered less by science and more by pious opinion, I think the decision should be left to those who most are effected by it: the mother and those she chooses to consult.
3. Continue protecting gun rights, but stop acting like you're looking for a reason to shoot people: One of the places I am most Conservative in my views is on the fact that guns should remain legal for private ownership. In fact, I'd like to see the laws restructured and certain items made easier to obtain (specifically short barreled rifles) and better national standards for ownership.
That said, as much as I want to just go "I'm with you on this" when lawmakers, not fringe lunatics raving in the streets but lawmakers, talk about "2nd Amendment solutions" and post pictures of their personal firearms with an pretty obviously menacing message to the President, I have to say no, I am not with you and you have missed the point.
4. In fact, could we drop the hyperbole all together? I get that you tend to be the party who wants everything short and sweet (I was reminded yesterday of how Herman Cain was applauded when he said bills would be no longer than 3 pages). But not everything is that easy. Many things require understanding of nuance and the bigger picture, which is why "politician" is a profession; that's what they're supposed to do, understand the nuance and keep an eye on the bigger picture.
Not everything you are against is going to destroy us. We are not making a decision between your way and the end of America at every turn. Put forward your ideas as ideas, not the will of God.
Because it's not. Unless one of you is God and failed to tell the rest of us.
5. Also, stop fighting the Cold War: I grew up in the 80's and, at the time, there were certain things that were pretty cut and dry about the U.S. of A. We had a clear enemy and we knew our way of life was better than theirs. At any moment, we might throw down, and if we did it would be a clash of giants.
Those times have passed.
In the absence of a clear, easily identified enemy, the Republican party, the party of Hawks, has suffered. They have filled that void with things and people to define themselves against, specifically by saying "we are not them". And half of it are ridiculous wars on concepts.
Terrorism. Drugs. Crime. Non-traditional marriage. People not saying "Merry Christmas".
Nothing is simply a philosophical difference, debatable or understandable. It is all the enemy in a war. And it is a war the Republicans intend to win, even if there is no winning. Just better to fight on!
Stop it. Drop the party wide PTSD and recognize that not everything has to be a battle.
6. Recognize no man is an island. Nor country, except for Australia and we need them, too: When it comes to foreign policy, the Republican Party has always been bad cop. They hold the big stick and let the rest of the world know that if they don't fall in line, we will bring it into play.
But that's not the world we live in. Like it or not, the United States is one country in a world community and our actions no longer stay within our borders, nor do the actions of other nations. We cannot pretend that we don't need or have common goals with the rest of the world, even countries that have far different ideologies.
We need to look to relations with other countries without acting like admitting our error is a "world apology tour" or thinking that anytime we make a treaty, it is another step towards establishing a New World Order.
In 2001, after 9/11 we had a brief window of opportunity to unite the world against, not only Al Qaeda, but extremism and the poison of hatred. We squandered that opportunity in favor of going "Yippee, someone to shoot!" and the blame for that lies squarely on the shoulders of the Republican Party.
Perhaps we could see about not repeating that error, OK?
7. Embrace reasonable regulation: Right now, it really does appear that the Republicans are in the pockets of big business. It's grown tiresome and repulsive.
We need to have a strong economy, but as the BP oil spill, the lawsuits of Monsanto and Apple, the aggressive nature of the RIAA and the Byzantine nightmare that is the health care industry all prove, the business of big business is cash, not the well being of the public at large.
Laissez-faire capitalism produces robber barons. Regulated business produces entrepeneurs. Learn the difference.
8. Remember compromise and become the party of the common man again: Taking care of our people is and should be the business of the Federal Government; removing the impediments to allow everyone to succeed. This is not the ideology of any one party, but the end result of all of them. The Left has taken the idea that it is the duty of the Federal Government to intervene directly. It is the Republicans ideal that people can do better for themselves than a bureaucracy can.
There is merit to both perspectives. The problem is that the goal cannot be lost in defense of the means. If private citizens aren't stepping up to take care of one another and the bureaucracy is prepared to do the job, then the job must come first. Whether this is ensuring good education, maintaining quality law enforcement, seeing to the needs of the elderly, helping the destitute or promoting the next captains of industry, the end result of a better, more prosperous America must be a more important battle cry than insisting that it be done your way.
They do all that and I'll start thinking about voting for them again. And I'm sure many others will as well.
Now, don't take the above as thinking that I'm under the impression that the Democratic party does these things just fine. They could use some improvement as well; there may be another article forthcoming about how they can keep my vote. And some of you may read this and say, "Why not go Libertarian", but I find them to take some of these way too far to the extreme and I have no desire to read Ayn Rand.
But the Libertarians should serve as a warning to the GOP.
See, if they don't figure out how to reach people, they will go the way of the Whigs and the Tories. A new voice will step forward and will speak to America in a way that they did not know they missed. A better Conservative party will pick up the banner and will succeed where the Republicans have learned to fail.
And if so, they can't come soon enough for me. Because I'm tired of there being no Conservative voice speaking for those of us closer to center.