Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Life-Long Republican Bids GOP Farewell

by AG Casebeer
Published in the Louisville Courier-Journal April 18, 2006

I was raised in a family that consistently voted Republican. Into the voting booth I went, every November without fail, to pull the levers for my mother and father. And, more often than not, I pulled the lever with the little pachyderm on it, but also levers with Democratic names of distinction. Levers that had names on them like John Sherman Cooper, Marlow Cook, Barry Goldwater, Louie Nunn, Richard Nixon, Romano Mazzoli, Gerald Ford and Harvey Sloane were pulled, at the direction of my parents.

They taught me to vote for the best person for the job, the person who, in their estimation, was most likely to reflect their ethics of honest government, low taxes, responsible spending, provision of necessary government services, a strong defense, maintenance of a social safety net, fresh ideas for dealing with current needs, and civil rights for all. With the exception of Nixon, nearly everyone they voted for fit these standards.

When I was old enough to vote on my own, their ethics stuck with me. I worked briefly for George H.W. Bush's campaign in 1980, then voted twice for Reagan. I gladly voted for Mitch McConnell each time he ran for Senate, but also voted for Jerry Abramson and continue to support him to this day.

However, I became uncomfortable with the GOP's move to the right, and began to question its candidates' judgment. Reagan's huge deficits bothered me greatly, as did George H.W. Bush's continuation of them. In 1992, I chose to vote for Perot, ended up very happy with Bill Clinton's performance in office, as well as Brereton Jones' and Paul Patton's gubernatorial terms (with minor exception made for Patton's extramarital problems).

I have lobbied Congress a number of times in the 1990s and 2000s, as an unpaid citizen lobbyist, on the subject of civil rights. To say that I am most displeased with the quality of government we, the people, are receiving from the GOP, is the understatement of the century. The GOP is basically owned lock, stock and barrel by the Donald Wildmons, James Dobsons, Chuck Colsons and Pat Robertsons of the world, people with whom most Americans do not share a worldview, and people who want to impose their morality on the entire nation.

Anne Northup was supported by George W. Bush long before he ever ran for president, while he was still running up huge deficits in Texas as governor, deficits that have crippled that state's ability to deal with the problems of their schools, roads and infrastructure, not to mention the influx of hurricane refugees from Louisiana. Bush has continued that record as president, running huge deficits, starting a costly war on a false pretense and actively depriving people of civil rights to please his fundamentalist Christian friends. I am proud to state that I never voted for him.

Which brings us to the issue of Ernie Fletcher, and his rewriting of Paul Patton's executive order, removing protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in state employee hiring. It is another in a long line of attempts by fundamentalist Christians to use GOP-led government to impose their morality on citizens who do not agree with it. The failure of Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the last decade, the failure of Congress to pass a significant hate-crimes bill, the creation of hysteria surrounding gay marriage that resulted in the GOP victories of 2002 and 2004, and the repeated attempts here in Kentucky to void local Fairness laws with acts of the state legislature, are testament to that. Fletcher's removal of protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Kentuckians in state hiring, along with the support of many in the state legislature for the odious bills that would have erased the Fairness laws, mean that the GOP is bigoted, mean-spirited and tied to an ideology that should have died with the old century.

So, with this, I bid farewell, permanently, to the GOP at all levels. Yes, they once fielded candidates for office who were honorable, who did good jobs. But no longer will they gain my vote. I cannot vote for bigots, for candidates who look to decrease, not increase and broaden, civil rights. I cannot vote for candidates who start wars with lies. The current federal tax code and levels of deficit spending are the very definition of irresponsible government.

We have a state legislature that is more concerned with erasing local laws it doesn't like, than in assembling fair and well-considered state budgets, which should be the first job of each state legislative session, not the last. And, finally, with his cutting of state employees' rights, on Diversity Day of all days, Ernie Fletcher has revealed himself to all to be a tool of the fundamentalists, a sellout to manna, and unfit, in my opinion, to govern.


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