My brother-in-law...I shall refer to him as “Lars” for the sake of anonymity...is, like his father before him, a Republican. Lars has, upon occasion, commented on some of my more politically provocative blog postings, but in an effort to keep peace and harmony within the family, we try to avoid engaging in heavy duty political debates.
In the interest of full disclosure, though, Lars claims that he is voter-registered as an Independent, not as a Republican, and insists that he has “often voted for Democrats in presidential elections.” He even admits to voting for Obama in 2008 because he couldn’t stand Sarah Palin.
By the same token, despite spending as much time as possible these days in San Francisco, I am voter-registered as “Unenrolled” (i.e., Independent) in Massachusetts, my legal state of residence. And, like Lars, I don't always vote along party lines. Indeed, I have occasionally voted for non-Democratic candidates in presidential elections.
For example, in 1976 I voted for Gerald Ford, a Republican, because I couldn’t stand Jimmy Carter. And in the 1980 election, I voted for third party candidate John Anderson because I couldn’t tolerate either Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan.
Deep down inside, however, I am a Democrat and Lars is a Republican, albeit a moderate one. And notwithstanding our mutual efforts to avoid discussing politics, Lars and I did get drawn into an email exchange last week, one that started innocently enough on the topic of Medicare. Alas, it quickly devolved into political barb-throwing.
Lars voted for Romney in November. But in his email, he admitted that he now believes that the “better person won the election.” He even conceded to liking Obama on gun control, adding that the Republicans so far have been a great disappointment on that issue.
He also said that the compromise Obama put forth on the so-called fiscal cliff was reasonable and that Obama will come out with a good immigration bill, an issue on which the Republicans have been late to table.
Good for you, Lars! You are, indeed, a moderate Republican who can focus on things other than taxes.
But wait! Perhaps I was a bit premature. Lars couldn’t simply stop at saying some positive things about Obama. Oh no. He felt compelled to crank on the president and the “Dems” regarding higher taxes and increased spending. You know, that same tired old Republican trash talk. Blah, blah, blah!
Okay, I admit that I might have ratcheted it up a notch when I wrote, “most Republicans are white, middle aged (or older), out-of-touch gun loving, immigrant hating, gay bashing obstructionists who don't give a shit about anything or anyone but themselves.”
Well, at least I didn’t say all Republicans
In what was no doubt a measured response, Lars wrote back, “While I would certainly agree that many Republicans are the type of people you describe, there are at least as many if not more Democrats, especially in the South, that share those same values. Unfortunately, bigotry, greed, and gun-toting nuts transcend party lines and will continue unless some future event is so dramatic that it modifies the DNA of this very large segment of our population. You may think all or most Republicans are evil, but at the end of the day, you need them just as much as Democrats to maintain some sense of sanity and equilibrium in our government.”
continued, “If we only had a one party system run by Democrats, the greed and
corruption would be rampant and more than half of your hard earned income would
go to the government to pay for those high union salaries and benefits, 35 hour
work week, and 2 month vacation in the summer. There are many qualified and
moderate Republicans that are worthy of consideration even if they don't share
all of your views.”
Omigod! Obama and the Democrats are trying to turn America into France. Quick, I must rip my Medicare card to pieces!
Contrary to Republican propaganda, I’m confident that Obama doesn’t intend to turn the United States into a Western European-like socialist nation. Defending myself, I wrote, “I am not even close to suggesting that all Democrats are good and all Republicans are bad. I know there are plenty of Democrats whose values are as fucked up as those of most Republicans. Especially, as you noted, southern Democrats.”
I do believe in the two party system. But as I expressed to Lars, “unless the Republican Party embraces the reality of the 21st Century and contemporary American culture (and demographic trends), it’s heading the way of the 8-track tape player, the Betamax, the typewriter, the rotary phone, or whatever essentially obsolete technology or ideology you can name.”
In one of his emails Lars wrote, “Sometimes it’s necessary to compromise some views in order to get the ultimate good.” I completely agree and responded, “Ah, if only Congressional Republicans would take that advice.”