Olympia Snowe Is My Kind of Republican

A friend at work often chides me in saying that despite the fact that I’m a Republican, how I speak about politics makes me a Democrat. I’m just as Republican now as when I first registered to vote when I was 18, and I still hold to the traditional Republican values of small government, individual freedom, and conservative – as in judicious, not political – financial responsibility. My friend teases me because I have a much more moderate position with respect to my politics, which focuses on the issues and not the ideology, so I suppose it must seem to him that since I don’t speak politics like 95% of the Republicans out there, I must be Democrat. He’d probably say the same thing about Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who is one of the few moderate Republicans in Congress today, and who unfortunately is not running for re-election.

I read an article about her frustration with American politics today this morning, and despite the article’s title of “Frustrated Senator Olympia Snowe Give Obama an ‘F,'” the actual meat of the article focused on her general frustration with Congress. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“I think a lot of the frustration frankly in our party, in the Tea Party challenges or even Occupy Wall Street is really a reflection of our failure to solve the major problems in our country,” said Snowe. “It’s become all about the politics, and not the policy. It’s not about governing, it’s about the next election.”

So has this Congress failed the country on those critical questions?

“Absolutely,” Snowe asserted.  “You have to sit down and talk to people with whom you disagree,” said Snowe. ” And that is not what is transpiring at a time when we desperately need that type of leadership.”

What she said above mirrors EXACTLY what I’ve been talking about with others when discussing politics. Especially with my ultra-conservative friends, I’m often apt to say before going into a political discussion, “I’ll only engage in this discussion if we talk about the issue, not about the ideology. If you want to bitch about Obama did this or Obama didn’t do that, then let’s talk about how the Sharks are doing instead. Whether you like the guy or not, we have real problems in this country, and discussing political ideology is NOT going to solve them.” We usually end up talking about the Sharks…

When I Vote for President I Will Vote…

…with my conscience.

My brother and I have always wondered what was up with our father and many of our ultra-right-wing conservative family members, puzzling over their seemingly blind support of candidates or anything Republican for that matter; all this on top of their absolutely annoying criticism of Democrats. On the other hand, one of my closest friends has been a staunch Democrat; staunch to the point of getting angry if I didn’t agree with his political ideals.

This morning, I read an article on the Romney aides attacking Newt Gingrich’s reliability and trustworthiness, and essentially calling him an anti-Republican, and just falling short of calling him psychotic. But the thing that one of the aides said struck me:

I don’t think Newt Gingrich cares about conservative principles

I then realized that statements like the one above are the root of the problem that I’ve been having with BOTH sides of our political landscape. Each camp has been very effective in polarizing the masses and debating on ideology, not the issues. If an issue does come up, it seems – at least from what I’ve been reading – that the legislators don’t argue the merits or the problems with the issue itself, they argue the ideology.

The net effect can be akin to brainwashing. Anytime you bring ideology into anything, you bring in emotion. Push the right emotional buttons – especially the anger buttons – and you can instantly move thousands, perhaps millions, towards your point of view. Today’s politicians have been extremely effective at that. Take a look at the GOP: Their resounding, practically single-minded battle-cry has been to make Obama a one-term president. My question for my fellow Republicans is simply this: What do you stand for that will be for the good of the American people?

Oh, they say all the right stuff to address the issues on their websites, that’s for sure. But the news they make has been all about political ideology. As a Republican, I anguish about this as it makes me extremely reluctant and actually confused about who would be best suited to run against our current president. As it stands, I believe the one who refuses to engage in the ideology debate will be the one I vote for; that is, if they don’t drive me away as a Republican voter due to their ideological squabbling.

So that is why in the end, I will vote my conscience, and vote for the candidate whom I believe believes in “by the people for the people.” That may be Republican – and I’m hoping it is – but it may not be, and as in previous elections, I will cross party lines.