Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me

When a Republican Senator Santorum talks about man-on-dog sex and insists there is no right to privacy but that there is a right to unreasonable -- to unreasonable search and seizure...

When a Republican Vice President tells a Senator, "Go fuck yourself"...

When a President extends the middle finger to the press...

When the President's top henchman says that Democrats are all traitors...

Once upon the time, the Republican Party was the party of decorum and conservative thought, small government and balanced budgets. The Democrats were goons who fixed elections via corrupt politicos, slandered fine upstanding men as crazed lunatics, spent other people's money like water, and otherwise behaved like a bunch of crooks from a Batman comic. No longer. Today's Republicans are a course, crass bunch that the late Barry Goldwater would have been repulsed by, whose big government agenda has led to the largest increase in domestic spending since LBJ's "Great Society" programs, whose borrow-and-spend fiscal policy has led to the largest fiscal deficits in this nation's history, whose henchmen traitorously expose CIA secret agents for political gain, who like Democrat Woodrow Wilson believe in foreign wars of aggression in order to "make the world safe for democracy" (which curiously seems to be more about making the world safe for funneling billions of dollars of taxpayer money to Vice President Halliburton's pocketbook)...

Hmm, where to start. I almost joined the College Republicans. I voted for Reagan and George H.W. Bush (both times), and voted for Clinton reluctantly the second time only because he was doing a decent job. I believe in free enterprise as the primary engine of wealth, and believe in a government that is limited to only protecting the rights of individuals and providing only those services that time has proven need government intervention because the free market has failed to provide them in timely and/or cost-effective manner, things likes roads, schools, libraries, police, fire, and health care. I would say that this makes me pretty darned conservative.

Yet I read the hate-filled screeds of today's "Republicans" and am utterly apalled. I cannot imagine the late Barry Goldwater calling Democrats "traitors". I cannot imagine the late Ronald Reagan or any of his supporters claiming that liberals should be killed. They were too polite, too well-mannered, too principled, and while I didn't agree with them on everything they were men I could respect. I can imagine Richard Nixon saying such things, but only in private, the Republican Party leadership would have been utterly apalled if he'd said things in public. But not today. Today's "conservatives" regularly are rude, crude, and advocate violence against those who disagree with them. What has happened to decorum or simple manners, the hall-mark of a classical conservative? What happened to the Republican Party of my youth, the Republican Party of Dwight D. Eisenhower and Barry Goldwater? It appears to have been subsumed by the Republican Party of Richard Nixon... a bunch of venal, small men of no breeding or manners, who are about as conservative as LBJ was.

I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me. And the nation is the poorer for it.

- Badtux the Once-was-Republican Penguin

Posted by: BadTux / 7/28/2005 05:13:00 PM  


Please share this with other disillusioned Republicans! They have to be out there. Surely not all Republicans are crass, hateful, violent, spend- happy, and criminal?

I'm glad you wrote this because I've had trouble believing that today's Republicans are even human anymore so it's nice to be reminded that it wasn't always this way....
# posted by NATHANIEL R : 28/7/05 6:14 PM  

Gee, I wonder who inspired you to write this ;-)...

For the record, I've never been a Republican, just like I've never been a Democrat. I'm just an ex-conservative. I call myself a liberal because, well, that's what I am. Or what I've become over the years. Some examples...

It's not the size of the government that concerns me, but its effectiveness. If a government program works for the benefit of most of us -- like Socil Security, flaws and all -- then that's fine. If not -- welfare comes to mind -- then retool it. If retooling doesn't seem to cut it, then scrap it. I find it telling that conservatives and Republicans are eager to shit-can welfare without trying to fix it -- I'm just not certain what exactly that's telling me.

I'm also a lot more open to trying new approaches to solve problems than I used to be. This is more a result of my own personal experiences than anything political -- I've found that there are times when change isn't just desirable, it's required. Overall, the changes have done me good. And America could sure as hell use some changes right now.

And then there's the "openness of mind" thing (only an ex-conservative could write a phrase like that). I've gotten away from treating different ideas as threats to my own beliefs and learned to recognize them as the alternate views that they are. Not only has this not destroyed me (as I long feared it would), it's enlightened me. Not that enlightenment hasn't been a bitch, of course -- it often is. But having been run through this particular wringer and come out of it in one piece, I cannot see why anyone who's done likewise would want to go back to the way things were. Conservatism, by definition, is about preservation; well, what on earth would I be preserving by going back?

Anyway, I could go on and on. But I won't. You get the idea...
# posted by Mimus Pauly : 29/7/05 1:30 AM  

I couldn't agree with you more, Badtux...
As for me, I usually go with the party or person I think can do the best job at the time...Lately I've swung left but it appears the Democratic Party is also leaving its constituents behind...Yes, I too feel nostalgic for the ol' Conservatives...
Shine On my Penguin friend...

--Gramma MaryTux from Wisconsin
# posted by Mary : 29/7/05 8:56 AM  

Excellent writing, Badtux.
# posted by Paul the Spud : 29/7/05 9:29 AM  

A very important and powerful post. Congratulations.
# posted by RJ Eskow : 29/7/05 10:08 AM  

For the record, I'm more a "soft" Libertarian than anything else. That is, I believe that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so the best government is that which is limited only to those things which have proven necessary either via the test of time or because of changing conditions, and that government should be as local and as responsive to the populance as possible. The goal is government of the people, by the people, for the people. *NOT* government of the people, by a wealthy elite, for the benefit of a wealthy elite. There is a name for the latter, and that name is "tyranny". The government of Mad King George is coming close to that.

Unfortunately, the latter (changing conditions) is where my fellow Libertarians seem to fall down. They seem to think that we still live in the agrarian America of the 19th century, where a man could simply move to the frontier and go into business farming if he lost his job.

But we don't live in that America anymore. If a man loses his job, he can't just canvass his neighbors and family for some seed and a few manual farm tools and move a few miles further out and start farming. Any land he goes to will be owned by someone whether it is idle or not, and if he tries to do this, he will be shackled in chains by the power of government and get to homestead a 8' square jail cell with his new best pal and butt buddy, Tiny.

Similarly, on health care, in the 19th century health care financing was simple. You avoided doctors if you wanted your health! Doctors' tools consisted of saws, needles, knives, and sinew thread. A doctor was as likely to kill you as cure you. But we don't live in the 19th century anymore. Modern health care requires a massive investment in infrastructure, and the financing of that infrastructure is nowhere as trivial as in the 19th century. Because of this, all 1st world nations other than the United States have adopted a system whereby the people as a whole finance the health care system, while the United States has adopted a system whereby it is largely businesses that finance the health care system, and where large numbers of people have no access to the health care system either because their employer chooses not to help finance the health care system (e.g. Wal-Mart), is unable to do so due to the high costs (most small businesses), or they're not employed at all in some cases. Conditions have changed. We the people need a better way of meeting those conditions, and luckily have an easy one -- simply extend Medicare (a time-proven system now) to all Americans, rather than to just wrinkled prune Americans, and hike the Medicare payroll tax to finance that extension. No new software is needed at doctors' offices. No new procedures for handling claims are needed. No new tax is needed, just a hike on an existing payroll tax. Yet most Libertarians still choose to live in the 19th century when it comes to the issue of how to finance a modern health care system...

In any event, if there is a such thing as a "liberal libertarian", that would be me. That is, I believe that there is a place for We the People to do some things collectively when the free market has failed to do so in a cost effective or timely manner, things like roads, postal service, libraries, etc. However, I still believe that the power and scope of government should be severely limited, and that any expansion in the services provided by We the People rather than by private enterprise should be done cautiously and only when there is a large-scale consensus that it is the right thing to do. Which makes me NOT a liberal.

Confused? So is everybody else. I guess, in the end, I am a Utilitarian. The free enterprise system has proven to have the most utility for creating wealth, and thus I'm for it. But in those cases where it fails to provide services that people need, as a pragmatic utilitarian I can't get upset at We the People (our government, assuming we live in a democracy) getting together and providing those services for ourselves via money we pay to a collective pool intended to provide those services.

- Badtux the Utilitarian Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 29/7/05 10:39 AM  

Good article, BadTux.

I can't claim any party because I vote for whoever I think is best, damn their affiliation with party. I get V E R Y pissed at people who vote one party because that's "their" party. I know some that vote and then piss and moan about what their selection is now doing. I like to rub it in that, "well, that's what the people voted him/her in to do, obviously."
Of course, it won't change their voting habits, but does make me feel good in a petty & mean-spirited way:)
# posted by oldwhitelady : 31/7/05 5:37 AM  

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"Keep fighting for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce." -- Molly Ivins, 1944-2007 "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

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