There are constantly earthquakes in Washington. The one last month, however, has been the only to crack the Washington Monument.
Though not caused by tectonic plates, political tremors are constant and the concerns of many Americans stem from the fact that the aftershocks are often nothing more than a clash of liberal and conservative values, and rarely about what’s in America’s best interest.
Some of these crazed debates make many moderates wonder where civil discourse has gone and leave them wondering where Eisenhower Republicans have gone into hiding. Granted, we aren’t beating each other with canes over our disagreements, but we are beating at each other’s lifestyles with our own personal values.
For example, it is concerning to me that the platforms of many candidates in the GOP this year are based largely on social issues, which all too often win swing votes. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way from calling President Obama a Kenyan and incorrectly identifying him with the Muslim faith, yet we still have some people who just refuse to grasp the facts.
While on vacation in Charleston — the week Rick Perry traveled to the city to announce his candidacy — I, against my better judgment, watched the Republican Presidential Debate. I thought to myself: “this would be reality television in any other advanced democracy.”
I cringed as I heard Michele Bachmann incorrectly explain to less-informed viewers that our credit rating was downgraded as a result of our plummeting national debt, though, in S&P’s reckoning it was the bi-partisan game of chicken combined with reckless brinkmanship.
She went on to brag that she drafted a bill to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Rick Santorum’s sob story told of how the “imposition” of gay marriage on Iowans by the courts affected their lives negatively — how these legal contracts would have compromised his rights and his marriage.
A bizarre moment arose in which the debate became a battle of who was more anti-abortion; while the statelier Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney stood by, simply projecting that they were in a whole different league. In fact, I actually felt bad for Jon Huntsman, who has recently served as U.S. ambassador to China. He was booed for saying “I don’t believe we’ve done enough in this country for [same-sex] equality.”
Fred Karger, an openly gay presidential candidate who, in many polls, outshone Tim Pawlenty, was not even present; he was unfortunately denied a spot in the debate by Fox News. And while it would be preposterous to blame all political hatred on Republicans, I do mourn one of their number — Dwight “Ike” D. Eisenhower.
He was the Republican president who shared the same “Republican values” I was raised on: Welfare is something a person gives to his neighbor because he feels obligated to, not because the government wants him to; or that Jesus was a defender of the people, not a prosecutor.
I was raised in a household where, after your parents got off work, you’d go help out with the free clinic’s fundraising auctions. Frankly, I was raised in household, perceived to be Republican, where facts mattered and the most important human virtue was generosity.
I found it interesting later that, in a family of people who considered themselves conservative, our basic principals lay rather within the mainstream Democratic Party which. I was in a moderate family stuck in a biased fishbowl. And the older I grow, the more I realize that some of Eisenhower’s values would be considered socialist; In other words, there has been a party change that shifted people like me.
Disturbingly, as I considered this simple revelation, my thoughts were drowned out by “pray-the-gay-away” pizza parlor owners and misinformed representatives who lead a new, scary Republican party that leaves me with the unshaken confidence that Eisenhower is looking down, crying on Abe’s shoulder. I may be a bleeding heart liberal — a fan of social welfare and equality — but I still like Ike.