I Didn’t Leave the GOP — It Left Me

elephant-walking-awayFor over three decades now, the GOP has courted the likes of Pat Robertson and his followers. In addition to 15-passenger van, denim skirt-wearing religious fundamentalists and snake handlers, they’ve also tried to appeal to alienated Dixiecrats who were absolutely repulsed by the Democrats’ move toward the left when it came to civil rights.

Throughout the years of Reagan and Bush Sr, the loons were confined to the back of the party bus. They were relied upon by the GOP for votes and pretty much nothing else other than allowing Ralph Reed or Pat Buchanan to address an audience at a convention here or there far outside the national spotlight.

Those were the days when I, as an impressionable teenager who was brainwashed by years of growing up in the religious right, mingled with the likes of Ralph Reed, Oliver North, Alan Keyes and others. I was even on a first name basis with people like George Allen and Bob Goodlatte while they slowly but surely injected the radical right ideology into the Grand Old Party.

As much as I grew to despise these folks as I got older, it has become ever more apparent that I didn’t leave the GOP – it left me. You know what? I’m grudgingly OK with a few corporations getting a little extra slice of the pie. I’m not against capitalism and the idea that a few individuals will make more in one day than I do in an entire lifetime, I’m just not OK with banks getting handouts to fix the crisis they caused in the first place – then using that money to pay for bonuses and to give further campaign contributions to the politicians who voted for the bailouts to begin with.

Guns? I own a couple, and I support sensible gun control as well as our Second Amendment right to bear arms. War? I get that it is an inescapable part of human history and that from time to time, we may have to kill a few really evil people without a formal trial. The death penalty? I’m opposed to it, but I don’t mind if once in awhile we execute someone who has committed an especially heinous crime – so long as there is absolutely zero doubt when it comes to their guilt.

But the Republican Party that I grew up with is no longer the Republican Party I see today. It has gone from a party that was moderately conservative and interested in lining the pockets of the rich, to a cesspool of gun nuts, conspiracy lunatics, and Bible-thumpers who were willing to take the country over the financial cliff simply because they do not want what Jesus would call “the least of these” to have access to affordable health insurance. This is a party that, 20 years ago, would have considered President Obama a moderate Republican and would have embraced most of the Affordable Care Act, because after all – it was their idea.

People often ask why I’m so hard on the GOP. Well, let’s see. I happen to have read the Constitution and understand how government actually works, unlike many members of Congress. Government shouldn’t be dictated by the blind ideology of a few radical politicians who would risk the credit worthiness of the world’s largest economy and force higher rates on future loans, just so they can throw a temper tantrum over the Affordable Care Act (which just so happened to be their party’s idea in the first place).

I didn’t stop being a member of the Republican Party because I was indoctrinated by liberal higher education. No, the GOP decided that stopping two people who love each other from getting married was more important than fixing crumbling roads and bridges. My former party decided that it was more important to spend trillions on bombing goat herders and mud huts into oblivion to avenge 9/11 than it was to make sure that other Americans could have affordable access to things as simple as a medical checkup which could save their lives. The GOP screams about how asking someone to consent to a basic background check to purchase a firearm is an infringement of privacy, yet they have no problem trying to stop a woman from getting something as basic as birth control.

I wasn’t born a liberal, I became one – because the party I grew up with ran so far to the right-wing fringe that there was simply no other choice.


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