Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama from a Republican Supporter

Senator Obama, sir. If I may be so bold as to give you some of my thoughts. I believe this election will not be decided by Democratic or Republican loyalists. It will not even be decided by independents and centrists, because these groups mostly sided with John Kerry four years ago and Al Gore eight years ago, and they lost. This election will be decided by how many Republicans cross over and vote for you.

As a Republican for Obama, I've been involved with your campaign all year. I go to campaign offices, I speak and email with every level of Indiana campaign staffers, and I very publically promote my Republican for Obama status. I've held Republicans for Obama meetings, I write blogs and articles and letters to the editor. I've been on multiple local news shows, XM Radio, the New York Times, and on many blogs supporting your candidacy. Even though I'm such a strong supporter, I'm not 100% sure I'm truly included in your "big tent."

Your campaign has embraced the Republicans for Obama movement, and even created a section of barackobama.com dedicated to us. The page highlights several prominent Republicans who are supporting your candidacy, and there's even a little blog on there.

But that's it! Other than that bit of lip service, I have not seen you reaching out to Republicans, even those of us supporting you.

I was at your Terre Haute, Indiana, event last month, covering it for Huffington Post. A Republican asked if you intended to keep us in mind when you're president. Your answer started out fine, but you didn't answer the question. Your basic statement was the, "we are not Republicans or Democrats, we are all Americans" answer you've used before. However, you did not address the fact that a lot of us conservatives are putting our trust on the line here, believing you will not suddenly become a left wing nut.

When you chose Joe Biden as your running mate, you lost a lot of us. I've been a Republican for 27 years, and I've been very unhappy with Biden's liberalism. I was upset with your choice at first myself, but, based on my trust in your leadership, I researched Biden's voting record and looked at his character. I accept your choice now, but many Republicans who were supporting you do not. We need you to tell us how your selection wasn't a super-liberal move.

The polls are showing that possibly 9% of registered Republicans will vote for you in November. Being a resident of the most Republican county in Indiana, and having spoken with literally hundreds of people in this county alone, I believe the number will be more like 20%, giving you a massive victory. However, this will only happen if you reach out to us directly.

Let's be honest. While I'm a true "Obama supporter," most Republicans for Obama are actually "Republicans against McCain." We are all nervous, feeling like we're betraying our party, wondering if we're just enamored by your great speeches, hoping you're truly going to follow through with your centrist platform. But it would not take much, just a little gaffe here, a statement about guns or abortion or Nancy Pelosi there, to lose us by the millions.

So I have a simple request as a Republican for Obama, because I want you to win. Please address us directly. I'd like to interview you with the questions I've gathered from other Republicans for Obama, but I'd accept a speech directed to Republicans. It can be a major speech, unprecedented, like your race speech. Tell us how you'll pick your Supreme Court nominees, that you won't take our guns, how you truly feel about abortion, how you're strong on national security, how you intend to work "across the aisle," and how you'll return the balance of power after Bush's massive power grabs. We're out here, we're waiting, and telling us we're included in your campaign would change a close race to a major sweep similar to Ronald Reagan's second term election that brought in so many Democrats. Ignore us, though, and many Republicans for Obama will probably just stay home on November 4th.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Trickle-Down Economics Primer, and Why It No Longer Works

My first presidential vote was for Ronald Reagan’s second term, mainly because I agreed with his “trickle-down economics” philosophy. It’s a term we hear often right now, but many don’t understand what it means. Meanwhile Senator Obama refers to a new economic structure that works “bottom up.”

In its simplest sense, trickle-down economics means the more money the rich have, the more it will trickle down to lower classes when they spend it. So, when the government “lets” the rich and corporations “keep” their money (low taxes), they will use that money to buy American products and services, and invest in American businesses. The expenditures, like new cars, new homes, servants, accountants, a new yacht, and corporate expenses, will create jobs and economic growth. Investment in new businesses, and helping grow existing businesses, also creates jobs. The vast majority of jobs in America are small business jobs, and helping them grow simply helps create more jobs. The money the rich don’t pay into taxes gets spent in America, and everyone benefits.

Does it work? It certainly sounds like it makes sense. And it used to work exactly as explained. But trickle-down economics depends on two things. One, a closed system, where the money stays in America, and two, an investment structure in America that encourages investment in growing businesses to create jobs.

In the 1980s, America was almost a closed system. Worldwide business existed, of course, but in general, when an American wanted to buy a yacht, they bought it from an American yacht company. Even when they bought a Mercedes, they bought it from an American-owned Mercedes dealership, so a lot of the profit stayed here in America. For the most part, the money did trickle down, which is why we were so happy in the 80s. The 90s was a boom, too, because the rich invested in new Internet businesses and the economy grew dramatically, leading to President Clinton taking credit for Reagan’s system that he simply didn’t break. 

So why, when Bush and a Republican Congress forced through the tax cuts to the super rich a couple of years ago, did the economy grow, but the money didn’t trickle down?

The system went wrong because the two legs of trickle-down economics were both broken.

  • Leg 1, a closed system. President Clinton passed NAFTA, opening our system. If a rich American wants to buy a yacht, they are just as likely today to buy from Italy, France, Egypt, New Zealand, or Germany as in America – actually more likely because they’re cheaper in some of these countries due to cheap labor, and they avoid American sales tax. If a rich American wants to buy a Mercedes now, they can just as easily order it directly from Germany. And cheap labor? Undocumented workers send billions of American dollars to their relatives in Mexico. The rich vacation in Dubai or Italy instead of California or New York City. With so many products being manufactured in other countries, even basic purchases don’t benefit America’s economy. All of this is “trickle away economics,” as the money is trickling out of America, not down to Americans.
  • Leg 2, an investment structure that encourages investment in growing businesses. President Bush oversaw massive deregulation of financial institutions creating a casino-level structure on Wall Street. Instead of investing in new and growing businesses directly, investors started putting their money into large groups which invest in commodities (oil, coffee, pork bellies) and large corporate stock in a short term profit methodology so they can show quick profits and sell more shares. Commodities investments do not create jobs, they are just ways that the rich pass money back and forth. The demand for short term stock profits from corporations actually eliminated jobs as layoffs and exporting jobs were perceived as positive actions so corporations were rewarded for increasingly pushing more work onto the lowest levels to show ever-increasing productivity. A company could not simply maintain and pay dividends, which benefit long term investors. Instead, it’s either increase productivity or die. Therefore, with the new system, there is zero trickle-down to the middle class, and even more trickle away to other countries.  

In other words, instead of buying American products and services, instead of direct investing in business growth, the rich, the large corporations and the investment groups have been playing games, spending outside the U.S., and keeping their investment monies outside growth-creating areas. And the result is today’s economic crunch. The middle class is holding the majority of the tax burden due to tax cuts for the rich, and the rich are keeping the money instead of trickling it down.

The current economic crisis is the death of the trickle-down economics philosophy, living proof that it has failed. While homeowners are being blamed for buying houses they could not afford, nobody is stating that the reason they can’t afford them is a combination of high inflation and stagnant salaries. The mortgage industry would be fine if trickle-down economics had worked. If the Bush administration had created a tax cut system that benefited the middle class instead of the rich, such as Barack Obama’s plan, and had regulated the lending industry more closely, home owners would be able to afford their mortgages, and the rich would not need to be bailed out. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Heart and Soul of the Republican Party

Only once during this election have I agreed with Mitt Romney. During the primary, Romney criticized the McCain campaign's lies, saying,

I think Senator McCain was called out for what everyone has said was a false accusation. "The New York Times," "Washington Post," "Time" magazine, Bill Bennett, everybody has said what he said was simply wrong and reprehensible. I think it was a huge mistake on his part. He wants to stick with it. So he got to take the shots for it, as long as he's doing that. I think people are going to really say, what's the heart and soul of the Republican Party going to be going forward?
This quote would fit perfectly today regarding McCain's sleazy ad campaign against Senator Obama.

I've been a Republican for 27 years. I've voted straight Republican in every presidential election. This year I'm supporting Barack Obama, but I remain a Republican, and continue to support local Republicans who haven't gone the way of the neocons. But I've been wavering between remaining a Republican to try to change things from the inside, and leaving the Party until they return to their roots. I also want to know, "what is the heart and soul of the Republican Party going forward?"

Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is a political consultant who has been a Republican her entire life. Recently she left the Republican Party and registered as Independent. In her press release she said,

As an independent I want to be free of the constraints and burdens that have come with trying to make my own views explainable in the context of today's party. Hijacked by a relatively small few, the GOP of today bears no resemblance to Lincoln, Roosevelt or Eisenhower's party, or many of the other Republican administrations that came after. In my grandparents' time, the thrust of the party was rooted in: a respect for the constitution; the defense of civil liberties; a commitment to fiscal responsibility; the pursuit and stewardship of America's interests abroad; the use of multilateral international engagement and "soft power"; the advancement of civil rights; investment in infrastructure; environmental stewardship; the promotion of science and its discoveries; and a philosophical approach focused squarely on the future.
Even the most extreme Republicans are beginning to question McCain's tactics. Karl Rove, who is credited with taking negative attack campaigning to the lowest levels in the past 8 years, said, "McCain has gone in his ads one step too far, and sort of attributing to Obama things that are, you know, beyond the 100-percent-truth test." That's like Barry Bonds being critical of steroid use by other baseball players.

So what do I believe the heart and soul of the Republican Party should be? Truth, honor, and a respect for American voters. I've come up with a list of core Republican principles that the Party needs to return to. This will only happen by expelling or marginalizing the radical evangelicals and corporate interests that have turned the Party towards fascism.
  • Fiscal responsibility (balanced budgets and no long term debts);

  • Limited government;

  • A commitment to, and defense of, the Constitution and Bill of Rights;

  • Individual liberty with a respect for personal privacy and keeping government out of our personal lives;

  • Rule of law, with no American above the law, especially our elected representatives and their appointments;

  • Low taxes for everyone based on conservative stewardship and minimal spending;

  • A strong national defense, with a reluctance to enter into foreign entanglements;

  • A planned, proactive foreign policy that promotes friendship and cooperation, plus full engagement with our enemies;

  • Responsible stewardship of our national natural resources through environmental awareness;

  • Free enterprise, with a focus on protecting small business from monopolies, oligopolies, and unfair competition from large corporations;

  • States' rights over federal consolidation of power;

  • Maintenance of balance of power for all three branches of government;

A quick review of this list shows the current Bush/McCain/Cheney Republican Party is completely off the path, leading to member defections to the Democratic Party and hangers-on like me who are voting for Obama. This movement has some interesting bedfellows.

One group that is trying to change things from the inside is the Republican Leadership Council. As their site explains, "Inspired by a drive to get back to the fundamentals of the Republican Party, Senator John Danforth, Lt. Governor Michael Steele, and Governor Christine Todd Whitman created the political organization the Republican Leadership Council, which advocates for the historic Republican principles of liberty, individual responsibility, and personal freedom." They further state, "RLC-PAC's vision is a Republican Party that is unified by the basic tenets of fiscal responsibility and personal freedom, but that allows for diverse opinions on social issues by its members."

We are also seeing attempts to bring diversity to the mostly white Republican Party by groups such as Hip Hop Republicans. Per their site, a "Hip Hop Republican" sees that "...for far too long, urban areas have been controlled by a Democrat monopoly and ignored by head-in-the-sand Republican leaders..." and works to change that paradigm. Site founder, Richard Ivory, explained to me, "In so many ways the Obama campaign has forced this party to recognize that we have to change. My focus and mission is to bring more blacks into the Party and other minorities into the party. I am a Republican but a realist. My question is, does the policy work?" Ivory adds, "A more diverse party will be a more sane party." Republican Ivory sees four concepts that must be followed to meet the goals of addressing urban issues: "economic empowerment"; "educational choice"; "access to information"; and "empowering the potential of the individual."

Even poker players are urging the GOP to return to core values. "My point is simple. Is the Republican Party no longer the party of personal freedom and individual responsibility? Why has this party, that used to protect my rights, now become the party that wants to create a Nanny-state? Stay away from issues of personal liberty, except to remove old laws that restrict these liberties," professional poker player and 2004 World Series of Poker champion Greg Raymer posted to the GOP Platform site while it was open for comments.

During an interview with XM Radio POTUS '08, host Adrienne Mitchell asked me, "Has anyone from the McCain campaign contacted you to try to say, 'hey, hey, come back?'" The answer is that they have not. Instead, I have been maligned at every turn by Republicans. The Hamilton County, Indiana, Republican Party Chairman, Charlie White, said about me, "Anyone alleged Republican who is for Obama, is either not a Republican, but they are into more form than substance.[sic]" Regardless of the poor grammar, the message is clear, "you're either with us or you're against us." This is the current heart and soul of the Republican Party, and it must change for the Party to survive.

On November 5th, after Senator Obama has won the election, I hope some Republican Party leaders come back to this post and start considering the future of our Party, whether it will be the Party of lies, smears, anger and intolerance, or return to the Party that freed the slaves, spearheaded the civil rights movement, and brought America respect from every part of the world.

I'll be waiting.

UPDATE: I found this on the GOP Web site. It closely aligns with my list that others have said was off base. http://www.gop.com/about/imarepublicanbecause.htm. What I DON'T see on this list is making this a Christian nation, making abortion illegal, suspending Constitutional rights to people suspected of terrorism, drilling offshore and in ANWR, tax cuts only for the rich, smearing opponents and questioning their patriotism in order to win an election, free trade agreements, war with non-threatening countries like Iraq, increasing Executive Power including warrantless wire tapping, not talking to our enemies until they surrender, or defining marriage as being between a man and a woman. In fact, I don't see "safety before liberty" anywhere in there that would cause the support of the Patriot Act or any other power grab. Even the GOP's own site shows how far the Party has fallen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A letter from a fellow Republican for Obama

Dear Chuck:

You have done a superb job of marketing the GOP’s power to change peoples’ hearts when responding to the change in our country’s present leadership. Your successful hospitality has been highly publicized throughout Indiana and all the way to The New York Times. Do not presume that good people who are Republicans are going to accept the lack of caring for our country’s people, the embarrassing downfall of our reputation internationally, a war waged for all the wrong reasons and an energy crisis that has no more time to resolve. I am a Republican for Obama and I am sharing my story with you, Indiana’s leader of Republicans for Obama.

I was born and raised in a Republican family. I believe that when times and values change, people do also. I am sure that there are many more Republicans for Obama than anyone realizes. Doctors feel part of the middle class today and many are voting Democratic for the first time because they believe Senator Obama’s vision for America must be implemented. I’m sure someone is working with them.

My adult Republican years included volunteering for Donald Bruce for Congress. That grew into my serving as a Wayne Township Precinct Committeeman and Vice Ward Chairman where we used to live. Everything was so important. There were Lincoln Day Dinners, picnics and every kind of occasion you can imagine to market GOP candidates at all levels. Barry Goldwater was the presidential candidate. No one said “presumptive” back then!

My first government job was in the secretarial pool in the House of Representatives. Governor (Dr.) Otis Bowen, from Marshall County Indiana asked me to handle his office when he was Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and then again when he was elected Speaker of the House. 

After winning the nomination and general election, the Governor and his staff become truly busy with planning the Inauguration, Inaugural Balls and other festivities. Governor Bowen was fortunate that he had served in the House of Representatives and knew from personal experience many effective, honorable men and women to fill his department head and senior staff rosters. I worked along with him and lead the effort to hire competent and loyal administrative staff members.

Governor Bowen began and continued for years a splendid service to the people of Indiana. During those years Republicans had a different approach for assisting people meet their legitimate needs than Democrats, but they never presumed the needs were not there and that government did not have an appropriate role in addressing them. Many times both parties worked together to effect significant assistance to Indiana’s citizens.

Watching the last seven years of President Bush’s administration, Republicans, Democrats and Independents have been appalled to watch and feel an environment of dishonesty, provisions favoring only the wealthy, an astonishing disregard for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, sending our young soldiers to an unjustified war in Iraq, no protection for mortgage holders or bank depositors, no interest in the safety of imported goods, the use of interrogation methods that do not follow the Geneva Convention and other egregious public behavior. Honest, decent Republicans have no place to go within their party to feel good about themselves and their country.

Senator Obama offers hope for all Americans that the economy and ethical reputation of the United States will be mightily improved. He offers hope that our people will once again participate in their government because they will be heard. He offers improved living standards, education and health care. He offers fairness in taxes and job opportunities. He will make sure that our brave soldiers will be treated with respect and any needed assistance when they come home. Obama offers an environment of honesty and pride which we are presently lacking. Many of us feel disappointed, unprotected and embarrassed about our own country…how incredibly sad that is. Wouldn’t it be truly important to our daily lives to feel excited about being an American?

This is not Democrat or Republican. It is a wish for a return to ethical and humane standards for Americans.

Viola Walker

(Thanks, Viola!!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Taking the Republican Party back

I still consider myself a Republican. I believe in the founding principles of the Republican Party, and the modifications based on embracing of progress that have lead to a truly progressive Party up through President Eisenhower. Unfortunately, as the evangelical right wingers and corporate interests took over (see Crazy for God), the Party has become a neoconservative, almost fascist, Party.

So what are the Republican principles of which I speak?
  • Fiscal responsibility (balanced budgets and no long term debts);
  • Limited government;
  • A commitment to, and defense of, the Constitution and Bill of Rights;
  • Individual liberty with a respect for personal privacy and keeping government out of our personal lives;
  • Rule of law, with no American above the law, especially our elected representatives and their appointments;
  • Low taxes for everyone based on conservative stewardship and minimal spending;
  • A strong national defense, with a reluctance to enter into foreign entanglements;
  • A planned, proactive foreign policy that promotes friendship and cooperation, plus full engagement with our enemies;
  • Responsible stewardship of our national natural resources through environmental awareness;
  • Free enterprise, with a focus on protecting small business from monopolies, ologopolies, and unfair competition from large corporations;
  • States' rights over federal consolidation of power;
  • Maintenance of balance of power for all three branches of government;
President Eisenhower said it best:
“As we peer into society’s future, [we] must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower
There are many Republicans fighting to bring the party back to its roots, but so far we're failing. The future of the fight is based in diversity, cooperation (fighting for what we agree on instead of against each other on what we don't agree on), coordination, and outright punishment of the current leadership through our votes. Here are some sites that show how this movement is taking shape:

RepublicansForObama.org (not affiliated with Obama campaign)

Finally, the Obama campaign has recognized our disaffection by the Republican Party leadership, and has embraced us with their centrist platform that actually better represents our principles at this time.

If you are a Republican that also feels the Party has moved away from your principles, please read more of my posts on this blog and consider a crossover vote for Obama in this presidential election. And help us fight to return the Republican Party to it's founding principles so we can again support a true Republican for president.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Read This Now! Sarah Palin: It's The Abortion Debate Stupid

Many Republicans know who Frank Schaeffer is. For those who don't, he's the son of Francis Schaeffer, the evangelical Christian author of wildly popular and influential Christian apologetic books "Escape from Reason" and "The God Who Is There." A best selling author in his own right, Frank wrote one of my favorite books, "Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back."

The selection of Sarah Palin as Republican VP candidate has brought to the fore the pro-life/pro-choice debate once again. Thirty five years after Roe versus Wade, and 4 pro-life presidents who have done nothing, pro-lifers still think their selection of president should be based on this one issue at the exclusion of all others.

Mr. Schaeffer has an excellent article that we all need to read. It's longer than a quickie post, but it's the beginning of a conversation we MUST have. Please read it, comment on it, Digg it, pass it along, and converse.


Monday, September 1, 2008

10 Things I Wonder Regarding God, Obama, McCain and Pumas

1. Is Focus on the Family Out of the Will of God?

They asked their members to pray for rain at the Denver Democratic Convention. It was sunny the entire time. Is this an indicator that Focus on the Family is outside the Will of God, or is this God's endorsement of Barack Obama?

2. Is John McCain Unpatriotic?

I searched Google Images for an image of John McCain with a flag pin. Twenty five pages later, not a single picture with a flag pin! So I went to his site's photo album. Still no flag pin! Is he unpatriotic? Does he hate the flag?

3. John McCain, POW?

With John McCain's pro-war rhetoric, war in Iraq, war in Iran, war in Afghanistan, war in Georgia, war in Poland, does POW stand for Politics of War?

4. Drill Here Drill Now?

What does John McCain mean when he says to "drill here drill now?" Does he mean the spot he's standing on, and does he want them to start right away? Why aren't they drilling in all those spots yet?

5. Is McCain ready to lead? You sure?

The Republicans talk a lot about experience. John McCain has been only one of a hundred Washington Senators for 26 years. He's never been President or even a Governor, so he hasn't been a leader of anything. What experience does he have that prepares him to lead our nation? Lobbyist relations experience?

6. He earned it? Really?

Mitt Romney said John McCain "earned" his 7 mansions, his wealth. But I can't find anything in McCain's biography that shows he's held a high-paying job or started a company or succeeded in financial investing to earn his wealth. Does Romney consider McCain's marriage to wealthy heiress Cindy McCain a job? If it is a job, is it only legal in Nevada?

7. Is a PUMA an ugly Cougar?

There are supposedly Hillary supporters who are now supporting McCain. Some of them have organized and named their group after a shoe company. Didn't they trust Hillary's judgment? If so, is her judgment now bad when she says, "Barack Obama is my candidate?" Seriously, did they support Hillary for Hillary, or because she has the same kind of body parts they do?

8. McCain chooses.... who?

McCain chose Alaska Governor Palin as his VP choice. She's three years younger than Obama. Her "career" includes being a mother, PTA membership, city council member and then mayor of a city of 8,000 residents, then governor of Alaska, population 670,000 (about the same as Charlotte, NC), for a year and a half, about long enough, apparently, to get embroiled in a corruption probe. She shoots and eats moose, she's fighting protection for polar bears, she's admitted to using federally illegal marijuana while an adult but wants to put you in jail if YOU use it, and her husband works for BP, a foreign oil company. I don't even have to come up with a clever joke here, the facts are funny enough.

9. Is Palin qualified to be VP?

Sarah Palin apparently has some Vice President level experience. She was 1st runner up, number 2, second in line, first loser, for Miss Alaska in 1984. I'm not sure what the duties were for the Miss Alaska runner up, but a week ago Palin said she doesn't know what the US Vice President does everyday, so I assume the duties were very different. Will she talk about this experience in her debate with Joe Biden?

10. Palin supports home schooling, does that including schooling McCain in computers?

McCain says he's computer "illiterate," and that he looks at a few blogs with the help of his daughter and wife. In the greatest technological era in history, maybe he chose Palin as his running mate because she knows how to use the Internet and a Blackberry. Was she chosen to be the Presidential Secretary?

Bonus! The Republicans and their ground breaking VP choice! It's a first, right?

The Republicans are excited about their "glass ceiling shattering" choice of a woman for Vice President. However, the Democrats had a female VP candidate in 1984 (remember Ferraro?). Just like the McCain campaign to be 25 years behind the Democrats. What next, one of them Internets sites on that new Information Superhighway?