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Columns

Hello, My name is Elizabeth,
and I’m a Republican

Elizabeth Ross-Harrison

What seems like a lifetime ago, I ended up reviewing Kurt Vonnegut’s  A Man Without a Country – a collection of essays, sometimes self-indulgent, that let loose Vonnegut’s general distaste (probably an understatement) for the political landscape during the Bush years. Although I don’t necessarily agree with all of his contentions, I definitely understand the feeling illustrated by the book’s title—I am there.

Shortly before writing this, I asked our illustrious leader here what he would like to see from me for this issue. I’m used to writing extremely timely pieces, and often have trouble shifting gears mentally to manage writing for this journal. “Old news” is often defined as something that has been out there for more than a few hours. For most of my fellow travelers, the statistics I’ll be mentioning here will not only be considered old, but probably ancient, in spite of the fact that the poll involved was taken in January of this year. Unfortunately, the veracity of the results remains, and the denial or misunderstanding of their relevance to the state of our nation is another symptom of what ails us.

The GOP has evolved into the party for theocracy in the United States. Old conservative values of fiscal responsibility, limited government, and generally unlimited respect for personal freedoms have largely become meaningless talking points that are rarely backed with actions within the party. Fundamentalist Christian precepts have replaced party policy, and intolerance for dissention is being passed on as a twisted form of patriotism. Social conservatism has become the primary foundation of the party, in spite of the fact that it is incompatible with promoting personal freedom, smaller government, and less spending.

Research 2000 recently released the results of a poll given to self-identified Republicans nationwide (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/2/2/832988/-The-2010-Comprehensive-Daily-Kos-Research-2000-Poll-of-Self-Identified-Republicans), and it illustrates very clearly what has left me as an outsider in the party that I’ve associated myself with since the mid-‘80s. For the benefit of anyone who would like to claim that I am wrong about the GOP wanting to create a theocracy, the proof is in the reply to the following question: “Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?” Public schools that are funded by the government, and should be ruled by the Separation of Church and State, apparently should be offering Bible lessons according to 77% of those polled. Couple that with the fact that 67% of the respondents are of the opinion that the only path to Heaven is through Jesus Christ, and my contention gains quite a bit of proof.

Of course, there is some debate going on now about where the GOP is going, and whether or not it needs to redefine itself to survive. The question isn’t about survival—the cult-like following that it has from the vocal fringe will sustain the party. The only debate I see that is worth exploring is whether or not that vocal fringe is becoming the mainstream of the party, and what effect that will have on all concerned—not just those of us who happen to be card-carrying members. When speaking out against the social conservative agenda purely on the basis that it is contrary to other conservative ideals becomes a cardinal sin within the party, there is a major problem.

I am often mistaken for a progressive because I take a hands-off stance when it comes to issues like abortion and gay rights. The fact that I believe that those issues are none of my business—and certainly not the business of government—brands me as a liberal. It doesn’t matter that I’m opposed to the public option in health care, and am for realistic reform that includes interstate competition—I was actually glad to see Scott Brown win in Massachusetts, because it increased the probability that we wouldn’t end up with easy passage of the current health care reform bill. My hatred of “no-strings-attached” bailout checks being passed around like candy falls on deaf ears. And they certainly could care less about hearing my thoughts on sensibly cutting back governmental programs by transferring them to the private and non-profit sectors. I don’t think that it is responsibility of government to decide whom people marry or screw, or guarantee that every pregnancy is carried to full-term, so I can’t be a “true conservative.”

A while ago I expressed many similar sentiments on my page at RedState.com (http://www.redstate.com/elizabethrossharrison/) – apparently those views were too subversive for them, because someone has since removed them. I was berated for being so insolent by many users, so perhaps it’s best that the post was purged. Then again, my post on President Carter’s comments on President Obama’s race wasn’t removed from DailyKos.com (http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/9/16/782801/-President-Carters-opinion-on-Obama-or-when-it-is-best-to-not-state-the-truth), and all 131 comments screaming at me for it are still intact. That in itself is a sad statement about the state of Conservatism and the GOP today. As for the future of the GOP? I predict that if the party does not move from its current course into the realm of religious zealotry, it has the potential to throw this country into a state of turmoil on the same scale as the Civil War. As for the timeline on that, I am hoping that the progress to that end slows down radically—maybe then I won’t live to see it, and neither will my children.

*Dedicated to the memory of Senator John Heinz—the statesman that drew me toward the GOP in the first place.

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