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Liberal Republicans... endangered species? - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Liberal Republicans... endangered species?
I heard a term for the first time a few minutes ago that annoys me to no end, and it was connected to the phrase "dying breed," which just made me roll my eyes, as it's rather stupid--this particular breed is flourishing when I open my eyes. It is apparently the Republican version of Oreo, coconut, or banana (people in the variously referenced races will know what those mean). The term is RINO--Republican In Name Only. Meaning specifically--and defined explicitly as--northeastern liberal Republicans, including Arlen Specter, who occasioned the article.

Here are some specific Republican positions which I endorse, apart from a general and mild social conservatism:

  • School vouchers. I don't give a rip whether or not they support religious schools; that's not the point. They give educational choices to parents and opportunities to kids. Sure, it would be nice if the public schools gave kids all the opportunities they need, but we don't live in a perfect world. If a voucher helps a kid get out of Hell High and go to a decent private school where s/he will be able to get ready for college, then break out the pom-poms. It's time for a cheer. If that private school happens to be religous, so what? If it happens to be secular, so what? It's the parents' choice. And if the threat of this gets public schools into the competitive spirit, more power to it. This is a Republican position.

  • Bilingual ed. If I were trying to come up with a scheme in which new immigrants were turned into a permanent underclass, I don't think I could do better than a system which forced them into native language groups (often in remedial classes) and didn't make any real effort to see to it that they learned the lingua franca of the country. This was the issue I became a Republican over in the first place--the state voted down bilingual ed, and the Dems swore that they'd find a way around that vote. I swore I would fight them. This is a Republican position.

  • Welfare. While I'm certainly not in favor of losing our safety nets altogether, I saw enough welfare abuse growing up to realize that it needs severe reform. This is a Republican position.

  • The war in Iraq. Sorry, f-list. I support it. I think mistakes have been made, but I thought in '91 that we needed to finish the job, and I'm glad we're in the process of doing it. This is very much a Republican position.

  • Affirmative action. Oh, what the hell. I admitted supporting the war in Iraq, I may as well go all out and say that I do, in fact, think it's time for affirmative action to be scaled back and eventually done away with, or at least removed from the color-coding system it works on now and moved to something resembling a needs-based system. A better approach than affirmative action is to improve educational opportunities for kids in poor neighborhoods. See note above on vouchers. This is a Republican position.

  • Better budgeting practices. (Yeah, GOP, remember those? A major Republican concern?) A lot of government spending is wasteful, not because of what it buys but because of how it buys it. Keeping better track of expenditures and income is important. This is a Republican position, if not the Republican position.

  • Dislike of group-think. Remember the hullaballoo over political correctness? In which people were counted by the groups they belonged to and accorded privileges thereby? In which women, as a class, were expected to think XX thoughts, while men were naturally expected to think XY thoughts, and the two were forever at war? Where having dark skin meant you couldn't possibly be interested in the ballet, and should instead be treated to "culturally appropriate" (or "culturally sensitive") entertainment? And so on? I first became a conservative (not a Republican yet, but a conservative) when I ran into this, because it disgusted me so. This disgust is properly a Republican position, though people seem to have forgotten it over the years, and I call on the GOP to remember it.

I could go on with this list, but I won't. Suffice it to say, I'm perfectly damned well a Republican, at least where Republicans are acting like Republicans.

So, fellow "RINOs" (because I know perfectly well there are a lot of us, and we tend to be reasonably articulate)... let's get about the business of reminding the people who use that horrid term that we are in the party, that we are not going anywhere (and are certainly not a dying breed, but a rising one), and that we won't be randomly insulted by people who seem a bit confused about the point of it all. 'Kay?

I feel a bit...: annoyed annoyed

38 comments or Leave a comment
shagsthedustmop From: shagsthedustmop Date: November 12th, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Except for supporting the war and school vouchers, these are really more *libertarian* positions than Republican positions. I too agree with most of those (except the war, which I think is an imperialist atrocity personally), but I will *never, ever, ever!* be a Republican as long as they are anti-abortion, anti-birth control, anti-gay, pro-prayer-in-school, anti-anyone-who-doesn't-live-like-they-do. The personal freedom issues trump all the others for me, which is why I won't ever vote for the Republican. I'm actually a registered Libertarian but I voted for Kerry because I live in an almost-swing state and wanted Bush out no matter what. When I lived in TX I voted Libertarian because that made more sense when the state is so heavily Republican (i.e. if the actual outcome won't be influenced by my vote, I make more of a statement voting Libertarian than just anti-Republican; but if there is a chance my vote might help oust the Republican I will vote Democrat.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I have no beef with prayer in schools, am very religion-friendly (as long as every religion gets an equal chance), and am very anti-drug. I'm anti-abortion, but pro-choice, which puts me out of any party line. And I'm just not enough of an optimist about human nature to be quite as freewheeling as the Libertarians (I'm not quite into that small a government, nor do I think the free market solves as much as the Libertarians tend to think it does). But the Republican party I joined was heavily influenced by the Libertarian movement.
likeafox From: likeafox Date: November 12th, 2004 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have great respect for Republican view points like the ones you mentioned, and those Republicans who believe in them. I might not agree with you on all of those issues (although I do agree very strongly with some, and somewhat with others) but I can still respect them. My problem is that nowadays the Republican party seems overrun by the religious Right, who (to me, at least) look like they couldn't care less if our country is fiscally conservative, etc., as long as gays can't get married and public schools can put the ten commandments wherever they please. Believe me, Fern, there is very little I wouldn't give for the Republican party to be full of people like you.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 01:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I actually agree with schools that want to put up the Ten Commandments. It's not a huge issue for me one way or the other, but as long as town money isn't spent on them and the majority of the students don't have a problem, I don't see any issue with letting them keep a donated sculpture of a religious subject. I work in a public library with a gorgeous crucifix in it. (It's really striking, if the mural it's a part of is somewhat disturbing.)

On gay marriage... I just can't think of it as a huge issue one way or the other, and can't understand the fuss. I don't think of marriage as a governmental thing, really--less a civil right than a religious sacrament. I guess I figure the government should recognize marriages that religious bodies see fit to grant.

Believe me, Fern, there is very little I wouldn't give for the Republican party to be full of people like you.

Thanks. Hence my call to so-called RINOs to get their mouths running.
silverhill From: silverhill Date: November 12th, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
As for Republicans in Name Only, the same thing is happening with Democrats in Name Only (Zell Miller, Dixiecrats). The parties are becoming more polarized, so you have to pick one based on what issues are most important to you.

I'm a Democrat because the issues that matter most to me are Democratic issues and officially opposed by Republicans. That's not to say that I don't agree with Republicans on some issues (most notably criminal justice). But those Republican issues are completely trumped by the Democratic issues I believe in.

And, yes, I'm a liberal. But you don't offend me -- because you are a great thinker. You don't just swallow sound-bites and spit them back at your f-list. Any position you take is because you've thought it out reasonably. And I can't find fault with that even if I do disagree with the position.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 01:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, maybe we RINOs and DINOs all ought to get together, join the poor beleaguered Libertarians, and make an actual sizable third party.
purplerebecca From: purplerebecca Date: November 12th, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hear hear! I agree with almost everything you said here. :)
versinae From: versinae Date: November 12th, 2004 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
On the bilingual education issue, do you think that immigrant children should be taught to read and write in their native language in public schools, if there is a large enough number of them in the school? I definitly agree with you that they shouldn't be separated so much from other children. I was a teacher's assistant for awhile in a bilingual Spanish-English classroom, where they had electives with other students, but otherwise were a class by themselves until they were good enough at English to transfer into the general program. I can see how being separated like that, while it may help them to be among people in their situation at first, prevents them from making friends among everybody else at the school. (I was on the other side of the equation in my high school, where they bussed in most of the black population from Boston, and the only black girl I really became friends with was a girl who moved to my town from Zimbabwe, because she was part of the general social group, whereas the Boston kids were in their own clique and we didn't share many classes.)

Back to the point, though, while I want them to learn English and become integrated with their schoolmates, I think it was still worthwhile for the school to teach them to read and write in Spanish at the same age as their English-speaking counterparts would do. (Their spelling mistakes were adorable, though, missing silent H's at beginnings of words, and replacing V's with B's everywhere). Do people that oppose bilingual education like yourself see this as a reasonable use of tax money? I'm just curious. The program that I was in got shot down in Mass. a few years ago, so I don't know what they're doing with themselves now.

The Spanish kids were far more polite and respectful, though - maybe that would rub off on the American kids! Oh well.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 12th, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think...


I think that if I really believed it was going to be temporary, I might be more lenient (and was, when I believed it). More than learning to read and write in Spanish, I would be inclined to let older kids study things like math and chemistry in Spanish until their English improved.

I think being bilingual is a big plus for people--an advantage I definitely don't have!--but the problem with bilingual ed is that its upshot is too often monolingualism in a language that doesn't dominate the high powered jobs and paths to same in this country.

What I could see is, perhaps, a one semester total immersion program for older kids. Younger kids, who pick up languages more quickly, would probably ultimately fare better to go with the route immigrants always took, which is to just attend classes and get help as needed, on an individual basis. But of course, you can't make a big splashy program to do that. :eyeroll: It's also a place where teacher's aides can be a huge help, especially if they themselves are bilingual and can help with homework and so on.
calliopeia17 From: calliopeia17 Date: November 12th, 2004 01:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I appreciate hearing your opinion- though I disagree with almost all of it, particularly the war, which I fully and utterly believe was a racist and moneygrabbing train wreck in which thousands upon thousands of innocent lives have been lost pointlessly, and affirmative action.

I partially agree with the concept of a needs-based system. But I just moved to the South from near Washington D.C. I didn't have anywhere close to a conception of how powerful racism still is until very recently. It wasn't something I saw back home. But here, the black people still (literally) live on the other side of the train tracks and shop in different supermarkets and have all the low-paying, starvation-wage jobs. So, yeah, where I came from originally, need-based affirmative action would have made much more sense, because it was economic status rather than color that made the difference for people. But where I am now, it's race, plain and simple.

And, yes, the Ten Commandments in schools. I'm an agnostic, slightly atheist-leaning, and displays of religion in public places patently offend me. When I was in high school, references to God actually did make me uncomfortable. Oddly enough, the crucifix you described in a library wouldn't bother me, I don't think- I'd find it disconcerting, but not offensive. If you had the Ten Commandments on the wall of your library, I'd find that offensive, because it's a direct statement of moral values that I don't hold, that's basically telling me I'm going to Hell. That I find offensive- and I would have hated it if it had been up on the wall of my school. No child should have to feel as though their school is telling them that they're evil for the religious beliefs they hold.

And school vouchers, well, personally, I think the public schools need to shape up- but threatening them won't do it. Because, and again, this is coming from someone practically fresh out of the public school system, the schools want to shape up. They DO NOT have the money to do it. You can't make your programs better when your teachers are being payed wages that don't account for inflation, when there's not enough money for new textbooks and computers, when arts programs get cut and we run out of paper at the end of every month. School vouchers doesn't solve this. Giving money to the schools would solve this. And, believe me, I saw everything I just described, and I came from a rich school system. I can't even imagine what it must be like at an inner city public school, or one out in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, private schools are better than public ones. But that's because they have the money to be.

Also, yay for being in favor of better budgeting. I think that's a universal position, actually. At least, I hope it is. I'm very disappointed with my party if it isn't.

Ok, well, I apologize for leaving long rants in your comments. Thanks very much for opening up debate; really, I think that this aspect of the political system is something that needs to be talked about.
From: ex_olivehorn645 Date: November 12th, 2004 10:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree with your Ten Commandments position. I would describe myself as an atheist-leaning agnostic as well, and mentions of God and religion in school made me very uncomfortable as well. Way back when I was in the TAG program in middle school, the teacher separated the class into groups, and we were to design a "utopian" society. One of the things we had to address was what belief system this society should follow (which in itself shows bias in believing that a society needs a uniform belief system), and one of the options was Christianity (which I believe was the only major religion choice). When my group got to that part, one girl said that of course we would choose Christianity, "because, well, it' Christianity". The whole group just nodded. Though I kept silent, I was very much the outsider.

Mixing religion with public school only creates outsiders like that. If you start allowing some religious material, like posting the Ten Commandments, where do you stop? Muslims might want Quran excerpts posted--and just imagine what a fiasco that could have been right after 9/11 with the anti-Islam sentiment that rose up. What do you do when pagans want something posted? Satanists? "Church of Bob" members? How can you determine what a religion is and who qualifies to have their material placed in a school? How do you keep the predominant religion of an area from overwhelming and shutting out other religions? Can you really represent every religion; furthermore, if you tried, do you think that parents would stand for it? And what about agnostics and atheists? The simplest and fairest thing to do is just keep religious material out of public schools (and preferably out of all public facilities).

The whole 'prayer in school' thing strikes me as absurd--students can pray in school, silently or between/before/after classes; in my high school many Christian students gathered around the flag pole to pray in the morning before class, and Muslim students gathered in a room in the library for one of their daily prayers. Students are allowed to pray, they just can't take away from instruction time--theirs or anyone else's--for it or do it in a manner that forces others who may have different beliefs to passively (or actively) participate (like at assemblies or sports events--which people did at my high school anyway). People can do what they want, they just can't make other people join them. Why is that a problem?

As for vouchers, I'm uncertain. While it would be great for every child to be able to go to a good school, it seems like vouchers would just redistribute the load of students and put heavier pressure on the better schools, thus forcing them to turn away many students (who will then have to go to a lesser school anyway) or start to decline themselves due to being overburdened and becoming no better than the public schools the parents were so eager to pull their children out of. I think that public schools need much more funding--vouchers or not, no school can be competitive without enough money to support itself. Also, I think that teachers should, by law, be paid a hell of a lot more than they do--this will make the teaching profession more competitive and attractive, thus luring more good people to the field and keeping standards for teachers higher. Teachers do a very valuable job, and we need good teachers who have incentive to keep teaching. Vouchers might help some people, but I think that properly funding public schools and properly paying teachers for the incredibly valuable job they do would be a better long-term solution.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: November 12th, 2004 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
On marriage. This is quite frankly, a bit of an odd topic, because there are two separate "strands" involved in the issue.

On the one hand, being married does convey certain legal rights, responsibilites and status. It affects your tax status, the disposition of property of someone who dies, the nature of work related benefits (insurance coverage) and the like. All of those are purely state issues.

On the other hand, there are indeed certain religious issues involved in marriage.

My point of view is the opposite of what most probably expect (and from what many hold). I consider marriage, in the end, to be a civil institution with religious overtones. As such, the legislation of who can be married and what rights and benefits that gives are within the realm of the states power.

Within the Lutheran Tradition, years back (many, many) it was more common for weddings to be a civil ceremony. If there was a Church componant or ceremony, it was after the fact, and only to ask God's blessings upon that marriage. I would have absolutely no problem with that being the case now.

That is why, although I am deeply against gay marriage, I'm also against the various ballot questions that came up in the last year. As I've said, if a gay couple comes into my church, asking to be married, I will refuse. Period. However, I'm not going to go mess with what happens with the Justice of the Peace. This is an area I feel the Church needs to proclaim, not attempt to legislate.

Also, considering weddings to be primarly a "religious" matter creates another problem. That of couples that would normally never darken the door of a church, but just *must* have a church wedding, and feel that the congregations should be at their beck and call to do whatever they want. *eep, I feel a rant coming on.*

From: walkerhound Date: November 12th, 2004 07:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
the thing with the state amendments was probably do to with the mass supreme court ruling. a lot of people with no particular problem with civil unions, suddenly felt the need to register there objections. it was kind of a line in the sand if you will. and part of the problem is the idea of what will happen when somebody comes to a church for a gay "marriage" and is turned away.

as a catholic i've always been told that there is a clear difference between a civil carmony and the sacrament of marriage. i.e evean a hetro civil "marriage" is just a civil union
rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: November 12th, 2004 03:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. I've got some postions where I'm probably more conservative than you, but I'm not a Republican because that is the party which has, consistently since the Gilded Age, given preference to the desires of the wealthiest fraction of the population over the needs of the poor half of the population, and I just don't believe that long-term stability, social or economic, is served by that set of priorities.

As for your talking points:

*School vouchers. If every student meant X dollars to the schoool which he/she attended, with the amount set by what the best schools spend per student, then I'd be for it. If I could get a voucher that would put my kid into a prestigious academy, why not? But vouchers, as a rule, are funded by taking money out of the public schools, and generally are not large enough to cover the costs of the schools where the upper middle class and above send their kids. Give me a system where every school, in order to have accreditation, must have a student population which reflects the economic, racial, linguistic and disability-level diversity within ten miles and I'm beginning to listen -- go for forty miles, so it's impractical for parents who would otherwise opt out to commute the distance and I'm getting more inclined to be on your side about funding vouchers for accredited schools. Try not to forget that when Boston desegragated the schools, a lot of white parents moved just out of town. In other places, where the suburban schools and the inner city schools were made all part of one school district, white flight was minimized and the entire system worked better.

rabidsamfan From: rabidsamfan Date: November 12th, 2004 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)


* Bilingual Ed. Okay, I've spent 15 years working a block and a half away from the Rafael Hernandez bilingual magnet school -- and visiting bilingual classes in schools all around me. I've got some real observations to make and the first is that the way that the referendum you voted for was phrased took it out of the real world and into the twilight zone. It not only took away the kind of linguistic ghettoes you describe (which did need some reform) but also penalized teachers for using a child's native language period. A strictly monolingual education works okay for kindergarteners, who are still in high language/grammar acquisition mode, but the older a student gets the harder it is to make the transition. I'm not talking about the unusual kid who picks up a new language in tenth grade and then goes on to win spelling bees. I'm talking the average kid, who hates school in any language and is completely screwed over when they have to attempt algebra without a linguistic safety net. The other thing that taking away Bilingual Ed does is take away funding to train and include bilingual teachers -- teachers who can translate the requirements of an American school to an immigrant parent or grandparent. And believe me, that's just as crucial as being able to tell a kid where the bathroom is in words they can understand. Do I think kids should be in Bilingual ed forever? No. Do I think that we ask them to do too much when we don't give older kids a year to learn English before they have to master subjects too? Oh yeah. But there's a place for side by side language instruction. At the Rafael Hernandez, half the kids were coming from English speaking homes and learning to be literate in Spanish, right alongside the kids from Spanish speaking homes who were learning English. It worked really, really well.

*Welfare: When you can put a time limit on poverty, you can justify a time limit on welfare. I'd rather see time limits on what kind of help you get -- and the longer you stay on the public dime the fewer choices you have until eventually you're living in a dormitory and taking your meals from a chow-line, wearing a uniform, but still free to go out and try to find a job which will take you out of the process. And I think that a complete physical checkup should be a basic requirement for welfare. A lot of the people I know with trouble keeping jobs spent years self-medicating for conditions they didn't know they had.

*The War in Iraq: Saddam Hussein is a toad. We had no business going after him until after we'd captured Bin Laden and his cronies and got some serious country building expertise in Afghanistan. Which, incidentally, is a Democratic position.

*Affirmative Action: When you get rid of "legacy" admissions to colleges, and other things which people in this generation are ineligible for because their parents and grandparents weren't allowed into the club or the college or whatever, you can get rid of Affirmative action. Do I want needs based help to work better? Yes. But the point of Affirmative action is that if you give someone a chance to show what they can do, most of the time they can do it. It's a chance, not a sinecure.

I tend to agree on the last two, but don't see either as belonging to either party.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: November 12th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm... Well, I'm pretty much left-wing but I am also an individualist who deeply dislikes group-thinking (hey, I'm an INTP ;)). The reason I lean to the left regarding social issues is simply that I think it's the fairest position.

I'm not saying this because I thought you were saying ''Dude, those liberals are such flock animals!'' You're not that kind of person :)
bribitribbit From: bribitribbit Date: November 12th, 2004 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
You tell it, sister! :) Although I really am a Republican, and not just a RINO.
prettyveela From: prettyveela Date: November 12th, 2004 10:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a Democrat because the issues that matter most to me are Democratic issues and officially opposed by Republicans. That's not to say that I don't agree with Republicans on some issues (most notably criminal justice). But those Republican issues are completely trumped by the Democratic issues I believe in.

I agree with silverhill on this. The Republican party in my eyes has changed from "Oh that's the right" to "Oh that's the party that wants to save everybody whether we like it or not cause Jesus said so!" party and that scares me cause frankly I have a place for that and it's called church. :\

Yes I disagree with you on some of your stances, especially the war and affirmative action(one of the most misunderstood positions on the republican platform) but I agree with everyone else, you get your point out and I really wanted to read what you typed. I think you truly look at both sides before you make a choice and I can do nothing but respect that. <3
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 13th, 2004 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)
And I'm uncomfortable with the Christophobia of the left--very uncomfortable with it. I'm also discomforted by the high-handed, "Anyone who doesn't agree with us is a brainless, bigoted idiot" attitude of a whole lot of Dems.

Because of this, I think it behooves members of both parties who are moderate to take control of the parties away from the people that they don't want in control. This post was not directed at liberals to discuss my views--that was never its intent. It was directed to other conservatives and Republicans to retake the party and not allow ourselves to be marginalized as RINOs.
sophonax From: sophonax Date: November 13th, 2004 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I first became a conservative (not a Republican yet, but a conservative) when I ran into this, because it disgusted me so. This disgust is properly a Republican position, though people seem to have forgotten it over the years, and I call on the GOP to remember it.

I think I have to disagree here--not on the disgust itself, which I share fully, but that it's a Republican position. As it happens, it appears that it's the Democrats who've adopted the politically-correct position, but I don't think it's an *inherently* Democratic position. I think it started off as well-meaning--social liberals were trying to represent the experiences of those whose culture had been pretty much ignored up to that point, but failed to notice that those cultural patterns weren't engraved on the brain at birth, and, well, it just spiraled wildly out of control from there. I'm encouraged that modern feminism appears to be rejecting the notion of gender essentialism that was so fashionable in the nineties, so maybe there's hope for the culture essentialists too.

But individualism is such a positive thing--and the cornerstone of the country, really--that I think both parties try to claim it as "their" special value. In reality, each party encourages it in different ways, and each one, sadly, has its ways in which it tries to suppress individualism.

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