Saturday, September 08, 2007

I guess there are some Republicans with real values and a conscious, after all.

Many of them are becoming ex-Republicans. I have read several stories about how many Republicans at the state level in Kansas have switched affiliations and become Democrats. Here is another example, Chris Koster, the head of the GOP Caucus in the Missouri State Senate. Via Firedoglake, here is part of his farewell speech.

. . . In a prior era, during the tenure of former Republican Senator Jack Danforth, political moderates existed comfortably within the Missouri Republican Party ranks. Today, Republican moderates are all but extinct. When I came to the senate, I naively thought I could influence a change in this regard. It is painful for me to admit today that I was wrong.

Part of my decision today should quite clearly be viewed as a formal break with the new Missouri Republican philosophy, particularly regarding issues on which I have always differed with Republicans; namely, stem cell research, the vigorous protection of workers’ rights, support for an increase in the minimum wage, and defense of an independent judiciary.

However, part of my decision, I hope, will also be viewed also as an embrace of the Democratic agenda, as my three years of involvement in Jefferson City has created a strong and sincere personal desire to turn my own attention toward more progressive directions, toward championing the state’s poor and disabled communities, expansion of economic opportunity in our urban centers, and support for family planning services.

Each of these convictions, it is clear to me, flies more comfortably beneath a Democratic flag.


Let us be clear as to their extremist agenda. The Republican desire is to criminalize early stage stem cell research in our state. The very same Harvard scientists celebrated throughout the world for their potentially life-saving research would, within the borders of Missouri, be imprisoned for fifteen years for conducting the identical laboratory work. Researchers actively recruited by the States of Kansas, Massachusetts, Illinois or California would be prosecuted and imprisoned here at home. Go to Boston for your Nobel Prize; come to Missouri for your leg irons. And the Missouri Republican Party not only tolerates this lunacy, but embraces it.

Their far-right crusade has infected everything, from the life-saving research itself, to economic development in our state, to the sale of the MOHELA assets, to the larger debate over abortion, to the nomination of curators and high governmental appointees, to the reform of our State’s Medicaid system.

I cannot in good conscience remain in Republican ranks and pretend that attempting to modulate extremist priorities is enough. Faced with such stakes, there is no compromising left to be done. . .

Very nice stuff indeed. I wish more people, including Democrats, would be so forthcoming about what exactly is wrong with the Republicans today. Many within the Democratic party are somewhat nervous about accepting these ex-Republicans into our ranks. I can see why. Many, especially in the so-called Red States like Kansas and Missouri, still hold many ideals that aren’t quite liberal. But here’s my take on that. The Democratic party is supposed to be the “Big Tent” party, room for everyone. That isn’t just talking about skin color, gender, and nationality. The Democratic party should be open to new ideas. Now, the question becomes, how far can this process go and the party still be somewhat homogenous in its beliefs? We have already seen a number of the newly elected “Blue Dog” Democrats vote with the Republicans on war funding.

My position, for what its worth, is that anything that marginalizes the current Republican party is a good thing. We need two healthy, coherent and trustworthy parties in this country. Just as we need checks and balances within the federal government, we need checks and balances within our political system. The current Republican party does not fit the bill. It needs to be broken apart and remade, perhaps around people like Chuck Hagel. I doubt he and I hold many of the same beliefs. But I trust him and would vote for him, just for that reason. Bush’s hard core supporters, the 30% of this country that really thinks that Bush is a god and Democrats are the source of all evil and will do anything they can, legal or otherwise, to reach their goals MUST be isolated and marginalized. This very vocal minority must not be allowed to drive policy in this country just because they have suceeded in hijacking the control of one of the major political parties.

If peeling the remaining moderate Republicans off, one by one, and getting them on the other side of the aisle is what it takes, I’m all for it.

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