Sunday, November 30, 2003

A good sign
Blake Ashby has begun filing to challenge George Bush for the Republican nomination next year. Atrios reports that he is on the ballot in Missouri and New Hampshire and working on other states.

I’m pleased to see this, not because I think an inexperienced outsider has a snowball’s chance of taking out, or even weakening, Bush, the insider favorite of an absurdly powerful political machine. He doesn’t. I am pleased because of the reason he is running.
Dismayed by a growing national deficit, disheartened by the Party leadership’s apparent loss of faith in the free market and the right to compete, frustrated by it’s drift away from the traditional Republican values of fiscal prudence and limited government, Blake is committed to using this campaign to bring the party of Lincoln, of Teddy Roosevelt, and of Eisenhower back to its core values.

The revolt of the moderates might finally be here. This is more than a good thing; it is a vital prerequisite to saving our system of government. Bush and the radicals who now run the Republican Party are a danger. Merely voting Bush out of the presidency or changing the majority party in one or even both houses of congress is not enough to end that threat. We need a new Republican Party.

The truth behind all of the pieties about a breakdown of civility in government is not that Democrats are being bad sports; it is that the whole system is starting to crumble. Rude discourse, dirty tricks, and even one-party domination of the decision-making heights are not the end of democracy in America. What is the end, is when faith in the system is replaced cynical enactments of its form.

It has taken us thirty years to get to this point. I won’t go into the whole historical narrative here (but I will soon). The short version is that at the same time that a particularly ruthless and effective cohort of far Right political operatives has come of age in the Republican Party, the public has been numbed by a cynical intellectual movement of moral equivalence. The Roves, Perles and Norquists of the world have been assisted in their rise to influence by a press and public that yawn and say, “that’s just how it’s done; this is no worse than that thing the other guy did.” We have two problems: bad guys have taken over our majority party and we are in a state where this can happen with no one caring.

This brings me back to the good Mr. Ashby and why we need more Republicans like him. If the Democrats just take power from the Republicans, the basic crisis will not be solved, we will only have postponed its worst effects. We need Republicans of conscience to take their party back. Ashby’s words are encouraging:
We as Moderate Republicans need to send a message to our party that these beliefs do matter, very deeply, and if we cheat on them we do not win. If enough moderate Republicans stand up for what they believe, we can bring the party back to the middle – we can save the values we hold dear. If enough Republicans protest by voting for me in the primaries, then at some point the party will have to pay attention, the administration will have to address these very critical issues. I am running because I believe we can save our party. I am running because I believe the good of the Nation demands we save our party and its values. I am running so that years from now I will be able to look children in the eyes, so that I will be able to say to them, “Yes, our generations did take their stewardship seriously”.

We should help him get on the ballot in as many states as possible and help him win delegates in caucus states so he can go to the convention and start a food fight in the platform committee.

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