So recently I have been re-watching the West Wing and I watched the episode “The Debate.” In that episode the Senator Arnold Vinick (the Republican) is calling Rep. Santos (the Democrat) a “liberal” and a “progressive”. Santos retorts that “Republican’s have tried to paint the picture that “liberal” is a bad word, but Liberal’s ended slavery.” Vinnick responds “A Republican President ended slavery.” Santos then states,
“Yes, a Liberal Republican, What happened to them? They got run out of the Republican party, why? Liberals got women the right to vote, Liberals got African Americans the right to vote, Liberals created social security and lited millions of elderly people out of poverty, Liberals ended segregation, Liberals past the Civil Rights Act, the Voting rights act, Liberals created Medicare, Liberals past the clean air act, the clean water act, What did Conservatives do? They oppose every one of those programs, every one. So when you try to hurl that word ‘Liberal’ at my feet as if it is something I should be ashamed of it won’t work Senator. I will pick it up and wear it as a badge of honor.”
I look at that statement by Matt Santos and it lines up with my established ideology pretty well. It was because of this speech a few years back that I knew what to call myself. For a while now I have been a Democrat. But recently I realized that I forgot the first part of this speech. Look back at the top of Santos’ quote. I realized that I wasn’t a Democrat, but instead, I am a Liberal Republican. I am not some “Reagan Republican” as most seeking to pass the GOP litmus test claim to be (ironically enough, Reagan wouldn’t have passed said litmus test). I am a proud Liberal and a proud Republican. Wow, talk about a paradox today. Except it isn’t.
The party lines are fracturing and elections are focusing on issues over campaigns and that means that the time is ripe for political parties to re-identify themselves. Take a look at the fact that President Obama and Carrie Prejean (Miss-America 2009 runner-up) have the same views on Gay Marriage whereas Cindy McCain and Laura Bush both believe in Marriage Equality.
Let me shift gears for a moment and fly us over to London where Conservative David Cameron is now the Prime Minister. For those of you who aren’t policy wonks, how did he get there? Not because he got the majority of the votes, but because he formed a coalition with the Liberal-Democrat party that only then gave him enough votes to become the Prime Minister. He courted their votes by compromising on some issues creating a more moderate government than he would have otherwise had. How did this happen? Its simple really, the UK has 3 main political parties.
George Washington advocated against political parties but rather for a united nation. That vision was never really achieved and now we have two deeply entrenched parties that are always fighting against each other. This reminds me of a Voltaire quote which states,
“If there were only one religion in England there would be danger of despotism, if there were two they would cut each other’s throats, but there are thirty and they live in peace and happiness.”
While this quote is about religions, I think it is relevant for political parties as well. If there were one political party we would be China or Soviet Russia. We currently have two and they are at each other’s throats. Why don’t we try something else and create a third party?
The Tea Party is poised to create itself as a third party by taking the religious right away from the republicans while also giving voice to many libertarians. In reaction to this, the democrats on the Far left are pushing to go further left. This creates a vacuum for the Republican Party. They have a choice, either follow the Tea Party into the extreme wings, or take a look at themselves and return to their roots. President Abraham Lincoln, the Liberal Republican. So man up Republican’s and look at where the market is going, you can do better for yourselves and the nation by becoming extremists. Extreme moderates, or, as I am, Liberal Republicans.