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Monday, April 10, 2006

As of April 10, 2006...

--posted by Tony Garcia on 4/10/2006

My mother once told me that if I wanted to change something I cared about I had to do it from the inside.

I think that is true. During my transition from socialist left-winger to right-wing conservative federalist I was an independent. Actually, I was never a Democrat. I joined the GOP in 1996. The discussion in poltics was "character matters". I agreed, and the GOP happened to be in line with most of my beliefs.

I have been a delegate since, regardless of my BPOU. I volunteered as much of my time and efforts as possible. Some years I could only put up signs in my window or lawn. Other years I volunteered my free time.

Character matters, we are changing politics. Shame on me for believing that tag line from the GOP. If character mattered we would not be seeing the embracement undermining, avoiding and circumventing the process WITHIN THE PARTY.

I understand the need to win elections. That is why, among other things, we take into account electability. But the idea should be that you find someone who meets your standards and THEN worry about electability.

Since I began reading blogs I have been struggling with the validity of my belief: the GOP stands for character and principles above their party. That was the way of Reagan. While he did not attack those lacking of character within the party he also did not support them. Now Reagan is to the GOP what Wellstone is to the Democrats: a buzz word. "I'm a Reagan Republican" now means, "vote for me because we like Reagan. I voted for him so I am Republican enough and my character, platform, issues and beliefs are mostly irrelevant." (Change Reagan and Republican to Wellstone and Democrat and you have the buzz word usage on the left side of the aisle.)

I was wrong for expecting more from the party than just "Republicans are always correct, Democrats are always wrong."

I have been a conservative for as long as I have been thinking about WHY I believe the things I believe. Once I had to compare my positions (e.g. abortion and death penalty) with each other my beliefs as a socialist fell apart. Once I abandoned the "this is what feels right" mentality I realized that deep down I am a federalist with libertarian leanings. Clearly on the conservative side of the world, not on the liberal side of the world.

One of the reasons I have been so closely tied to the "character" issue is that it is my beacon to goodness in a way. To steal a phrase from Glenn Beck, I am a recovering scumbag. Like the recovering alcoholic I must avoid scumbags. I cannot support scumbags and I try to not be around scumbags...unless they too are recovering scumbags. Character is an important issue to me...as is redemption. If someone makes amends and tries to fix themselves I see no reason they should not be given a new slate. Learn from your mistakes. When you are called on your mistakes try to fix them.

Pure partisanship protects scumbags. Partisanship led to the circling of the wagons around Bill Clinton. Partisanship led to the circling of the wagons around Tom DeLay.

Pure partisanship creates poor decisions and false judgement. The vitriol around the Harriet Miers nomination was a result of partisanship, not reason.

Anyway, I have realized that the GOP is not about winning elections AND holding to principles AND seeking character. It is about ONLY winning elections.

It should not be an issue if I say, "I support Sue Jeffers (Libertarian) for Governor because..." and "I support the opponent of Michele Bachmann because of her lack of character". It should not be a question of my being a good Republican.

I used to think the GOP was supportive of their rhetoric about the marketplace of ideas. That was until Mark Kennedy announced he was running for Senate. I used to think the GOP was supportive of their rhetoric about character being important...until I heard Bachmann supporters in person telling me that the only thing that matters is that "Bachmann will fight to make the laws Judeo-Christian", even though she might be lacking in character, I asked them. "That doesn't matter" was their response.

There is not a sense of Right vs Wrong in the conventions anymore. There is only incumbency protection, win the majorities.

In many discussions it was said that we will all have to support Bachmann if she were endorsed. The typical conversation would then go like this: I would reply "No. I cannot support a person with less character than myself." "But then the Democrats might win the seat." "Are you saying that winning the seat is more important than character?" "Yes, we cannot let the Democrats win." "Then pick a candidate with character."

No, that was not from just Bachmann Backers. I had those conversations from supporters of all 4 candidates. That was one of the final straws for me.

The other straws: The Eibensteiner supporters words after the GOP Chair election; the Miers nomination reaction; the defense of Tom DeLay; the defense of Mark Kennedy; Michele Bachmann's campaign tactics; Bachmann directly lying to my face on Saturday; the level of disrespect the Bachmann Backers had towards anyone not wearing a Bachmann sticker/shirt. (One person told me they finally were so disgusted with how rude they were being treated for not wearing any sticker that they put a Bachmann one on. Everyone else was still nice to them but the Bachmann people stopped being rude.)

I believe many of the things within the GOP platform. Some of them I do not necessarily believe, but a majority of the planks I do support. I cannot tolerate any longer the intolerance of the activist for my beliefs on abortion (summary: Most importantly it is a state's right's issue, after that I accept the idea that life, for the purposes of balancing individual freedom with life protection, starts at the point of viability). I cannot tolerate the religious intolerance of the majority of GOP activists. If you are not Christian you have a tough road to any position within the party, praise Jesus, Amen or no vote for you. I did not forget the intolerance of Christianity within the Democrats...their level of anti-Christianity is equal to the GOP's intolerance for atheists, diesists, agnostics or just very passive believers of a higher power. Both parties intolerance is not absolute, but it is prohibitive.

I will no longer stand with a party whose rhetoric is one-directional. Character matters only when it is the good character of the GOP member or the bad character of the DEM member.

And I cannot be in a party where the letter behind the name is more important than anything else. You cannot criticize Pawlenty too much for his spending ways...don't be too hard on him. It is nearly forbidden to speak ill of a very incompetent partisan hack in the Secretary of State's office. While in the party my position on them was to find a Republican that WILL do things right. Unfortunately the GOP does not believe in finding/supporting the best candidate. Any old incumbent will do.

I have just made the call to the GOP. I asked them to remove me from their database for I am officially, as of April 10, 2006 acknowledging that the GOP party which stood for character, principles and Right vs Wrong no longer exists. Some people within it certainly fight for those things, but only a handful consistently fight for those above party and platform.

I accept the consequences of this acknowledgement: my desire to run for office in the future will be unfulfilled.

But I must end the charade that the GOP stands for character, principles and Right...that even a working minority of the people stand for those over the party and platform.

I'm still a conservative, I'm still on the right-wing of politics, I'm still a federalist. I just believe that there is more truth and honesty outside of the GOP (or the DFL, before you Democrats read too much into this statement) than within.

For that reason, as of April 10, 2006 I have withdrawn myself from the GOP. I will hold to no party.

My mother is still right, I just do not care for the GOP as a party any longer.


Blogger Nordeaster said...

An unelected GOP platform purist's impact on public policy = 0.

This is a whole lot less than an elected official who can only hold office if they hold to 20% or 30% of the platform.

I feel for you. I am probably more Libertarian than Republican, but being in the Libertarian party is (as Dennis Prager put it), soley a masturbatory exercise. It feels good, but it accomplishes nothing.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Trillin said...


If you ever run for office, you just won my vote

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks...let's see, that makes you, me and my wife. I have 3 votes!! ;)

I'm not joining any party. It is the same result from each party. They each put their party above their principles.

I guess the difference might be articulated another way. When deciding who to vote for/support I follow this process. 1) Eliminate the candidates that lack character, principle, etc? 2) Eliminate the candidates whose performance already proves to be contrary to what they promised. 3) Group the candidates by their platforms. Kind of a "can support", "cannot/will not support" and "unsure". Of the "can support" and "unsure" begin to factor in the intangibles (electibility, etc)

For the nearly all of the people in party's the general process is this: 1) Which candidates have the same letter after their name as me? Eliminate those who do not.
2) Is this race important? If so support the one with the same party letter as me. If not continue on
3) Which one tells me they will do more things that I agree with? That is the one to support/vote for.
4) Is the person ethical, etc? If yes then parade that, if no then hide it.

I cannot abide by that process and will not be in a group where the majority of the members act according to that process.

Plain and simple.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger lloydletta said...

Tony, I can understand your frustration, but I hope you come back to the Republican party. The party belongs to those who show up.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Matt said...

I'm with you too Tony.

I'm a fairly centrist Democrat (hardcore liberal when it comes to some things) and this trend within my own party is often frustrating. Now, agree or disagree, I don't find it to be as huge of a problem as it is in the GOP (afterall, our national party isn't organized enough to play kingmaker, so we do still have primaries from time to time) but it seems to be getting worse. Character, people seem to have forgotten, is probably the most important consideration when citizens vote. I can disagree with someone's stance on an issue and still vote for them as long as I trust them. I don't read enough of your blog to know what you think of him, but I think McCain is a good example of this. I disagree with a lot of his stances but if he got the nomination, well, I'd have a tough choice. Why? Because I feel he's honest, he cares, and I can trust him (although his recent pandering to the party base is a little disconcerting, but that's just a part of the game). At any rate, I'm with Trillin. Ratchet the scoreboard up to 4.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Matt, welcome to the blog. Make sure you have your duct tape handy...I'm certain to make your head explode!

I get what you're saying about McCain. He will be a tough choice for me because the few issues where he & I depart are ones that are very important to me.

I have been explaining around the blogosphere, my departure is not because of the candidates. I'm disappointed that the GOP's slate of candidates is light on principles. My departure has to do with the people...those who showed up. The party is in the hands of people whose main desires from government are at absolute odds with me. I want honorable candidates (I know few are once they have won a political race) and freedom of religion (or lack thereof). What I have been witnessing is a growing number who think the most important part of a candidate is an "r" behind their name and freedom of Christianity/freedom from athists, diests, agnostics (we pollute the Earth it seems) and freedom from other religions.

Is that all of them? No. Is it even a majority of the MOB? I don't think so. Is it a majority of SD 48's 6th District Delegates? Easily. Is it a majority of the GOP Delegates? If not this year then soon.

It is not the candidates that drove me out. It is the delegates.

SIDENOTE: Talk about cognitive dissonence...when I was talking with Eric Black today he was trying to rationalize to me that the GOP delegates aren't that bad.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger bryan @ shotgunfreude said...

Hi Tony,

Nice blog from a fellow Minnesotan.

As for your quitting the GOP, I know the feeling. I was a solid Republican voter through the 2000 election, until the Bush-DeLay Axis abandoned everything the Republican party was supposed to stand for: their idea of fiscal responsibility has been to raise the debt by an astonishing 46% since Dubya took office, and their idea of small, limited government is wiretapping who knows how many phone calls without warrants, in violation of the law, throwing American citizens arrested on American soil in prison indefinitely without charges, and claiming that the President has the right to ignore any restriction of the law and the Constitution if he waves a magic wand and says "National security".

Politics have boiled down to a remarkable single issue: whether the administration is subject to law, or the law is subject to the whims of the administration.

The GOP is now the party that stands for the President's word being the supreme law of the land, and by default they've surrendered to the Democrats the position of being the party for actually upholding the Constitution.

I'm a registered Independent now. I was thinking of supporting McCain, until he lost my confidence forever by suggesting "intelligent design" should be taught in school. Besides its inherent odiousness, that moment signified that the strongest possible supposedly independent-minded Republican cannot operate without selling out to the monolithic GOP machine.

There are things I don't like about some Democratic politicians and some of their positions, but none of that really matters compared with the fact that Democrats as a whole have not called for abandoning the Constitution. And third parties that split the vote against the GOP are not a luxury anyone can afford when the gulf between the two major parties is so vast.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Marty said...


Since I'm sure we'll probably be talking to each other sometime soon anyway, I'm not going to dive right into anything you write. I do want to mention 1 thing that kinda bothers me about your "I'm not anti-abortion therefore I'm not wanted" reasoning. The GOP, at the national convention last year had 2 keynote speakers who were not at all pro-life (Guiliani and Schwartzennegergrrrr) and the first pro-life speaker was Zell Miller, a Democrat.

At the Dem nat'l convention last year, there were NO pro-life keynote speakers, and only about a dozen pro-life delegates. The GOP is extremely tolerant on this issue, nearly to the point of driving away pro-lifers.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Yeah, that is exactly what you mention before when you & I had this discussion before. In that discussion each of the Republicans said they would not support me as a candidate for that very issue. It is something that I believe holds true throughout the MN GOP.

I'm not the only one picking up on that. There were a couple of moderate Republicans I spoke to at the convention this past Saturday who said the same thing. They would like to get more involved but get pushed away on one issue...they are not life-at-conception pro-lifers.

Is the RNC putting on a better facade or are they more tolerant? I don't know (don't care either). But I can tell you that the MN GOP is not tolerant of this mentality.

April 10, 2006  
Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

Spend some time on the website of DFL legislators and read what they are saying and the bills that they author. Then you'll understand why winning elections matters.

April 11, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

I'm sorry, I will not embrace the concept of party over principle. If winning elections is THAT important then the job of the GOP is to get PRINCIPLED candidates.

The fact that so many party members (both parties, btw) think that principles are secondary to the needs of the party is where I take issue.

I just realized something...Nord, would you vote for Hilary if she became a Republican? I think even SHE could hold 20% of the GOP platform.

April 11, 2006  
Blogger Kevin from Minneapolis said...

We'll see how you feel about party versus principle when you're waiting for 8 weeks to see a doctor or when you have to drop your 3-year-old off at school.

April 11, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Hmm, are you sincerely making the case that only the party matters?

April 11, 2006  
Blogger fkaJames said...

Tony: As a new reader of your blog, I'm impressed by your strong advocacy of principle over party. I'm a liberal who has come to the exact same conclusion: I will support individual candidates both monetarily and with my time, but I will never give a dime or an hour to any political party. They exist to accumulate power and enrich their members, not to improve society or do the right thing. Within the Democratic Party, I've run into the same issues you have within the GOP -- the false tenet that you have to get elected before you can make a difference. First of all, being a politician is a damned despicable job. Those people who have truly made a lasting difference have been less politicians and more statesmen, activists and leaders. Second, despite what those wedded to party politics will tell you, you can be effective outside of the party system. There are hundreds of thousands of examples of people who have fought the good fight outside the arena of elected politics and changed the world for the better. Most of those that are involved in electoral politics, in my experience, are in it for personal glory, remuneration or ego.

You seem like a decent, honorable fellow (and, despite what you find in the world of electoral politics, there are lots of us out there). My advice to you is to leave the world of electoral politics, choose an issue of intense interest and meaning to you, and fight like hell to make a change for the better. You will improve your own life and the lives of countless others. As for the rest, I'm not a religious person, but I try to live by the idea to "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."

April 18, 2006  
Blogger Tony said...

Thanks for the kind words. I cannot stick to just one cause...I have too much to say. ;)

Besides, with a regular radio show I have to keep my fingers in many topics.

April 18, 2006  

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