A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Congressional Republicans – Where Do They Go Now?

Throughout the stimulus debate and votes, there was a lot of coverage over the fact that the Republicans stood united in voting against the package. In fact, all the House Republicans voted against it and all but three Republican Senators did likewise. You may recall I did a post after the first House vote criticizing Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership in the House for pushing the bill through without allowing Republicans to be brought in on the process which President Obama was attempting to do. By the time the bill got to the Senate, the spirit of bi-partisanship had gone out the window. However, I still think there was time for the Republicans to try and work with the President if they wanted to.

Many conservative talking heads are saying that this is great as the Republicans are being true conservatives again. The argument goes that during the eight years of the Bush Administration, Republicans had abandoned their principals of limited government and fiscal discipline. By opposing the stimulus package, Republicans were returning to their roots, so to speak. According to these conservative pundits, this was a stand on principal.

I beg to differ. I think it is an extreme return of partisan politicking which is just what we don’t need right now. The Republicans are trying to be the nay-sayers and are opposing this plan basically because it is a spending package put forth by the new Democratic President and a Democratic Congress. If it were Republicans standing on principal, wouldn’t the Republican governors agree? But they are not. According to the New York Times, several of them have openly supported the plan. When I first read this, my initial reaction was that the governors were all from more liberal states, such as California and Vermont. However, there was one big exception – Charlie Crist from Florida, who actually introduced President Obama at a rally in Florida which was for the purpose of drumming up support for the stimulus plan. Charlie Crist is no liberal.

Initially, there was some indications that some of the Republican governors were going to refuse the money from the stimulus plan out of principal. However, many of them have had a change of heart, due probably to the fact that the practical side of their brain woke up. I mean, why would a state want to turn down money when most (if not all) of them are in deficits? In the end, I think you will find that all of the Republican governors will accept the money. For now, they are just grand standing. Which is what I believe many of the partisan minded Republicans are doing. Only the practically minded ones, like Governor Crist, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and (yes, Pennsylvanians) Senator Arlen Specter are behaving responsibly.

This all brings me back to the original point of this post: where do the Congressional Republicans go from here? Think about it – basically, the Republicans are now going to be rooting against an economic recovery. That is the only way they will win in this. However, even if the economy does not recover, I think it will be hard for them to profit as Americans blame the Republicans for this mess in the first place, and in my opinion, they are right to do so.

While the Republicans may have scored some political points with their conservative base on this, they did so at a cost. In the long run, I think it would have been better for the Republicans to try and work with President Obama and the Congressional Democrats, so that it looked like they were part of the solution and could have taken some credit for it. Instead, they are forced to root against American interests, and that is never a popular position to take with the electorate. Going forward, I think it would behoove the Republican party to take a cue from the likes of Governor Crist and Senator Specter and try and work with the President to find common solutions. Otherwise, they may be looking more and more like an obstructionist party and there is another word for an obstructionist party – a minority one.

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