November 01, 2006

Going His Own Way

I haven't read John Cole's blog Balloon Juice in quite a while, but when his post This is No Fun popped up on this morning, it piqued my interest enough for me to want to see what he had to say, especially as many of the more prominent liberal blogs seemed to be linking it.

Essentially, Cole provided his bona fides as a long-time Republican who feels that today's Republican Party no longer represented his views. I can respect that.

I don't think that any American should feel that they owe either political party, or even a larger ideology, a lifetime of dedication from the metaphorical cradle to grave. As we grow older and mature, our life experiences impact how we view the world and that affects our perspective, sometimes radically. In general, as people grow older they tend to grow more conservative, but there will always be those that started out as being more conservative who shift their viewpoints towards more liberal philosophies.

It is also quite normal for those who have made a radical shift from one philosophical point of view to another to find tremendous fault in their former stablemates. David Brock certainly did so going from conservative to liberal, just as has former 60s radical David Horowitz did going from liberal to conservative. Their is also an apparent need for those making such ideological transitions to prove themselves to those they now find themselves aligned with.

I don’t know when things went south with this party (literally and figuratively- and I am sure commenters here will tell me the party has always been this bad- I disagree with that, and so do others), but for me, Terri Schiavo was the real eye-opener. Sure, the Prescription Drug Plan was hideous and still gets my blood pressure pumping, and the awful bankruptcy bill was equally bad, and there were other things that should have clued me in, but really, it was Schiavo that made me realize this party was not as advertized.


I am not really having any fun attacking my old friends- but I don’t know how else to respond when people call decent men like Jim Webb a pervert for no other reason than to win an election. I don’t know how to deal with people who think savaging a man with Parkinson’s for electoral gain is appropriate election-year discourse. I don’t know how to react to people who think that calling anyone who disagrees with them on Iraq a “terrorist-enabler” than to swing back. I don’t know how to react to people who think that media reports of party hacks in the administration overruling scientists on issues like global warming, endangered species, intelligent design, prescription drugs, etc., are signs of… liberal media bias...

And it makes me mad. I still think of myself as a Republican- but I think the whole party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills, and it frustrates me to no end to see my former friends enabling them, and I wonder ‘Why can’t they see what I see?” I don’t think I am crazy, I don’t think my beliefs have changed radically, and I don’t think I have been (as suggested by others) brainwashed by my commentariat...


I feel like I am betraying my friends in the party and the blogosphere when I attack them, even though I believe it is they who have betrayed what ‘we’ allegedly believe in. Bush has been a terrible President. The past Congresses have been horrible- spending excessively, engaging in widespread corruption, butting in to things they should have no say in (like end of life decisions), refusing to hold this administration accountable for ANYTHING, and using wedge issues to keep themselves in power at the expense of gays, etc. And I don’t know why my friends on the right still keep fighting for these guys to stay in power.

I disagree with Cole on many of the policy points in his post, but that does not make either of our opinions on these or other issues invalid, just different.

What I do find a bit perplexing is statements like this:

...the whole [Republican] party has been hijacked by frauds and religionists and crooks and liars and corporate shills...

I'm not quite sure what to make of this and related statements in his post.
Frauds and crooks and liars exist in both parties, far more than either side would like to admit. Criminal behavior is bi-partisan, and has been since this nation was founded, with the party in power at the time being more potentially corruptible simply because they are more powerful and therefore more attractive to those who would be corrupters.

As Republicans currently hold power across the board on the federal level, their influence makes them more of a target at this present time, just as even a cursory examination of history will reveal that when Democrats have held more power, they, in their own turn, have also proven to be quite corruptible to similar interests. Cole, I hope, won't be crushed yet again when the Democrats he has now apparently allied himself once more take power (which I hope will be later, rather than sooner) and prove that they are also far from pure.

I suspect that deep down, he is already aware of this truism, and that he is just using this temporary excuse as a cover for a deeper felt affront that seems to be tied more to an aversion for what he terms "religionists" (just a half-step from Andrew Sullivan's "Christianists").

By his own admission, the Terri Shiavo case which polarized many deeply affected Cole, and it seems fair based upon the comments in this post that Cole's version of what the Republican Party should be, is a party that should not embrace those people who are religious. If I misstate his views I apologize, but that is what he appears to say.

Cole, of course has other complaints: about fiscal responsibility, public policy, and the War on Terror under the Republicans, and most of these complains at least have debatable merit.

The sad thing, however, is that as Cole has rejected Republicans, he seems to have reflexively thrown in his lot with not the moderate middle where his stated interests would seem to reside, but with the most extreme elements of the political far left. From Oliver Willis to Daily Kos to Glenn Greenwald and others, Cole has apparently become the darling for those who hold political views that are also in apparent opposition to what Cole states he believes.

The Republican Prescription Plan may be bad, and yet his newest proponents support the boondoggle of socialized medicine. The Bankruptcy Bill was abhorrent, and yet his new allies support raising taxes, which also hurts those living on the financial edge. He disagrees with how the War in Iraq is being fought, and aligns himself with those who would prefer that we instead embrace defeat. What he states he believes and who he currently finds himself "in bed with" (metaphorically speaking) seem to be diametrically opposed.

He ends his post by saying that he doesn't know where it is going. It seems more likely that he knows his precise destination, but is unwilling or unable to realize how far past center to the other extreme he has gone.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 1, 2006 01:58 PM | TrackBack

You describe the second greatest problem of our era (the greatest being that islam is now waging war to destroy civilization). There is no party that is really dedicated to the individual rights of life, liberty, and property.

The republicans are closer to this ideal than the democrats, but as the ADA (Bush Sr.), drug plan, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc. prove, they are not exactly based on the idea of leaving people alone to manage their own lives.

The dems used to be about freedom of speech and religion, but they are pushing their religion of environmentalism/feminism/anti-white racism/animal rights/pacifism down everyone's throats.

My view is that the repubs can't be trusted to save the country, but the dems *can* be trusted to *destroy* it.

Posted by: Bearster at November 1, 2006 05:27 PM

I get so tired of hearing people bitch about Terri Schiavo. The woman is dead, they got what they wanted. Why not leave it alone?

Posted by: Terrye at November 1, 2006 06:24 PM

I left the following at Ballon Juice:

Cole, you’re as right as Sullivan or Greenwald. It’s always interesting to listen to you all proclaim why voting Dem advances conservative, and especially libertarian ideals. And convincing to those whom are already idealogically alligned with Sully, Ellison, and you. But not convincing to real libertarians.

Cole's response?
Just user[sic] smaller sentences, Bains: “BUSH GAVE ME TAX CUTS.”

Let's see... Dems will give me nothing I want, but Bush cutting my taxes is bad?

Like you, I stopped reading John Cole over a year ago.

Posted by: bains at November 1, 2006 07:23 PM

Terrye: the problem is that she was *already dead*.

The reason why people were turned off by Bush and the republicans is that they were behaving like democrats often do on other issues. Namely:
1) Federalizing what should be a local issue
2) Usurping and abusing power
3) Refusing to hear the voice of reason
4) Attacking individual rights
5) Pushing their agenda down others' throats

Believe it or not, there are many people who vote republican *in spite of* rather than *because of* their religious agenda.

God protect us from the day when our only choice is secular dictatorship (dems) vs. theocratic dictatorship (repubs).

For over 1000 years, the western world had a chance to see what a Christian theocratic dictatorship was like. During the 20th century, we had a chance to see what several atheist dictatorships were like.

The tiger or the tiger. I'll take what's behind door number 3 please!

Posted by: Bearster at November 2, 2006 09:18 AM

Cole's just going through his typical spiritual menstrual period. Give him a week in a tank with Democrats, and he'll be back, begging to be let back in. And, if anyone asks me, he'll be directed to the back door.

Posted by: Paul A'Barge at November 2, 2006 03:37 PM