The Airing of Grievances
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
An Open Letter To The RNC
(I apoligize in advance for the length of this post. You will see if you read it I actually tried to cut it down. I won't be offended if you don't though...I have alot to get off my chest)
October 26th, 2004
President Bush, Mr. Gillespie, and the Republican National Committee:
I am writing to you as a disenfranchised Republican party member. I am writing to voice my displeasure over the way you have run our country over the past four years. I cannot possibly enumerate all of the reasons why I am writing this letter to you. Basaically, I retain the quixotic hope that my words can help stop your current programs, methods and inertia in the national elections to be held just one week from today.
First, let me offer you a brief introduction to Cozmo Cramer. I have been ideologically a progressive conservative and an avowed Federalist ever since I can remember. My political philosophies were formed as a young man looking up to men such as Ronald Reagan and Tom Keane, governor of my native New Jersey in my youth. What I mean by a progressive conservative is that while I am fiscally conservative, government should actively take a role to improve the nation's social fabric and infrastructure. When I say fiscal conservative, I hold that when not in times of deep national crisis, our government should be as small and fiscally balanced as possible. As a Federalist, I believe that each state has the right to conduct itself in its own manner in matters that do not rise to constitutional levels (and ironically, I strongly believe in the function of the Electoral College). Also, as a progressively minded person, the actions the national government does take should be made should be for the betterment of the general state of the nation, not a particular demographic or voting block. It was once a policy espoused by many Republicans. Names like Teddy Roosevelt and David Rockefeller come to mind immediately as progressive conservatives, as do Rudi Guiliani and John McCain.
I have voted for a Republican candidate in every major election since I turned 18 in 1993 – Dole, Bush (43), D’Amato, Lazio, Guiliani and Bloomberg. Heck, I even gave money to the McCain campaign in 2000 while I was in business school and had no job or offer of employment. However, through the decisions and actions of you, Mr. Bush, you Mr. Gillespie and the Republican party in general over the past year and a half, the party of my youth has left me alienated and without a political home.
You decided to turn your back on American heroes like Guiliani and McCain in favor of religiously-bated politics and a turn further to the right than our country has taken since the 1920s, all while alienating our friends and allies around the world. In the process, you have disgraced the political process of our great nation and dragged the Presidency through the mud, all in the name of consolidating power within the part both domestically and internationally. The Republican in me is outraged.
The Lesser Bush
President Bush, I voted for you four years ago because I believed that you may have been merely a younger, more communicative version of your father. George Sr. was a strong man, and accomplished businessman, diplomat and statesman. He lead the country through the end of the Cold War, the transition to a unified Europe and to victory in its first major ground war in over 20 years when he built a true coalition of free nations and kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and put into place international sanctions which all but ended his ability to be a global or even regional threat to stability. Yet, your father lacked the swagger and braggadocio to express himself in a manner that was deemed presidential, and it cost him a second term.
You, George W., on the other hand, came into office promising to unite the nation in the wake of the Clinton Presidency. You had on your side many people I respected and Trusted, Including Colin Powell, James Baker(whom I have changed opinion of post-9/11), Condoleeza Rice (whose work I studied on Central Asia as an international relations major in college and was far in advance of the most of the world’s view of the post-Soviet republics) and Paul O’Neill. Your call to arms was “Compassionate Conservatism”, and although there was no substance to your claims at the time, I bought them hook, line and sinker.
It turns out, however, that the apple just fell too far from the tree. While your father was a man of quiet competence and measured decision-making, you have proved yourself to be the diametrical opposite. Whereas he used enlightened and rational thought, you ignore facts and pray that reality be changed to meet your version of the world. Whereas he openly opposed his party’s base on certain issues which he could not abide, you mirror the party platform as a puppet mirrors his puppeteer. Those who challenged your view of the world or an issue were swiftly silenced as traitorous and removed from positions of influence. Whereas most Americans live in a world of facts and reality, your sheltered life as allowed you the luxury of shutting your eyes until somebody cleaned up your mess and made the world look as you wanted it to. Ron Suskind’s article in last week's NYT Magazine (if anyone has a text copy of this amazing article, please share it with us in the comments section) illuminates this point in more detail and eloquence than I could ever muster, but your hide your smallish nature in what you to be deem your faith in God. This thought process is foreign and terrifying to me. In fact, it reeks of tyranny.
While your unwavering faith in your own infallibility comforted the nation (and me) in the days and weeks following September 11th, 2001 – your inability to see the possibility that you or your trusted advisers could be mistaken in any way, shape or form has put our nation in grave jeopardy. The dark side of your personality has alienated over half your nation while at the same time it has squandered an unprecedented chance to support true democracy in the largely despotic Middle East and to again be considered the world’s leader in liberal thought. Worse yet, your small-minded, vindictive nature and inability to control your own party and cabinet have left the country more divided than any time in my life.
In hindsight, the warning signs were all there, (namely your lack of ability to competently express yourself when questioned, your dependence on handlers on policy issues, Karl Rove’s disgusting smear tactics against John McCain in South Carolina) yet I chose to ignore them. I apologize to the American people for making such a gross miscalculation. I promise to never make another mistake like that in the polling booth.
Congressional Rubber Stamp
Our government was set-up with the ideal state of affairs being status-quo – gridlock is the national state of affairs, if you will. The basic model (and I will spare you’re the civics text book definition) of Separation of Powers is designed so that the government moves in one general direction or another only when an overwhelming majority of the population demands such a move. The system pits the bodies of government against each other so that regardless of political affilation, their powers cancel each other out and defend against a Federal tryanny. Even in the past when a party in the White House has enjoyed a majority in both houses of congress, Congress acted as an independent entity from the Executive and the party leadership (1993-1994 come to mind). This is the way our democracy is drawn up, systematically, to oppose the very situation that currently exists in Washington.
Yet the Bush Administration and the RNC have put a stranglehold on the Separation of Powers doctrine with intimidation tactics in the House and Senate that have removed the typical deliberations from American governance. This has allowed an unprecedented amount of pork-barrel funding, questionable powers granted, and a stacking of the lower-ranking Federal judicial appointments which have shifted the tone of public discourse to what was recently the far-right. I hold in particular contempt strong-armed party leaders such as Tom "The Hammer” DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist and Trent Lott for the trampling of the Separation of Powers.
The most infuriating part about this move is that the Republican Party is just barely a majority in the Senate and did not gain a majority vote in 2000 Presidential Race. There is no mandate for the RNC to act as it has, in effect, become the tyranny of the majority so feared by the framers of our constitution. Paradoxically, our tyrants have only a phony majority, at best.
The Move Away From of Fiscal Conservatism
The fundamental ideal behind the Republican party since World War II has been the fundamental believe that fiscal conservative ideals are the most sound way to run the nation. Less government is good, because it affords citizens more liberty. This argument has taken on the following form in one way or another for the past 60 years:
Less Government & Taxes = Good; Entitlement Programs = Bad
This is the theory that Ronald Reagan parlayed into his wildly successful two terms. This is the theory that brought Republicans to power in the Congress in 1994. Hell, this is the theory that propelled Bill Clinton to leaving our country with a multi-billion dollar tax surplus at the end of his second term.
However, during the past four years, with a Rubber Stamp Congress and no political checks and balances, the Republican Party has run rough-shod over the economic principles which brought it to power in the first place. Under the Bush Administration, our government has increased spending more than any in American history. Yet they continue to and claim to the American people that the bad “liberals” are out to take their hard earned money away from them.
Let’s examine the Bush administration record with a jaundiced eye, and see just how bad it is. The list of Bush administration largess is long and scandalous. It includes:
- The largest increase spending in dollar amount in the history of the United States, and the largest increase in spending on a percentage basis since FDR.
- The first tax giveaway during war-time in the history of the United States
- Continued loosening of the tax code for international corporations to hide domestic profits via transfer pricing and other repatriation methods.
- “No Child Left Behind” act has taken much of the funding responsibility for local schools away from the states and left it with the Federal Government.
- The $500 billion prescription drug plan for seniors has done nothing to change the underlying uneven-playing field in the pharmaceuticals market, and amounts to less of an assistance measure to seniors as it is an entitlement to the pharmaceutical corporations.
- The $20 billion of funding promised to rebuild and defend New York City in the aftermath of 9/11 has been misappropriated for all manner of “homeland security” measures, including, but not limited to, nuclear decontamination units in rural Washington State.
- Influencing the Fed's Board of Governers to artifically hold down interest rates during an election year, furthering trade imbalances and the sending the dollar into a global nosedive.
In short, the Bush Administration has presided over the worst rape of our country’s long-term financial health in the history of the Republic.
No Bush era program is further afield from the notion of fiscal conservatism than that of President Bush’s beloved “faith based” initiative programs. Leave aside the obvious constitutional conflict of interest with the Federal government simply giving money to church-run groups (in addition giving them complete tax-free status), there is only one faith that is considered worthy of inclusion in these programs (Cozmo belongs to one of the largest, wealthiest, and most politically active synagogues on the planet, and I have yet to hear of A SINGLE non-“Christian” organization being graced with some of this “faith-based” largess).
You see, your “faith based” initiatives are nothing more than an entitlement to a different class of Americans. At their core, “faith based” initiatives are no different than the classic “tax & spend liberal” philosophy common to Democratic tactics of the 1960’s and 1970’s welfare and tax system so derided by Republicans since I can remember. These initiatives are nothing more than giveaways to the party’s power base in order to shore-up and radicalize the party’s base. However, they are even more repugnant than the “Great Society” welfare programs, for they are supra-constitutional and far more cynical in nature. I am not overstating my position when I say that future of “faith based initiatives” are one of the most grave issues facing our democracy and economy over the next decade.
The result of all of this spending and lack of taxation would surely be a catastrophe, right? Yet amazingly, even with oil at $55 dollars a barrel, the Fed has still kept money cheap at less than 2%. This is a fundamental imbalance between real interest rates and their theoretical levels which has resulted in the depression of the US Dollar in the foreign exchange market for the past two years. However, the current situation simply cannot last.
Believe me, we will have to foot the bill for your fiscal irresponsibility over the next four years – only this time a tax-cut stimulus is simply not going to pull us out of the tail-spin. I am not optimistic that the current administration or Congressional leadership has the where-with-all to avoid disastrous consequences for our economy.
For lack of a better phrase, in just four years, you have spent our country into the ground.
After reading over 2,000 of my words already, you have neither the time nor the inclination to listen to me to make a tangible argument against the conduct of the war in Iraq. That will take more time than any of us would care to share, even without the rest of this letter. That said, assuming the following occurred:
- that US intelligence had been accurate to the point that Colin Powell did not make a fool of himself and our country in the UN,
- that Bush administration had properly armed our troops with the soft skills and personnel to “win the peace”,
- a proper coalition could be built that would keep us from overextending our military in a conflict without a foreseeable conclusion,
(NONE of which actually happened), I could support a war with Iraq on neo-realist terms – regardless of the presence of WMDs.
However, the idea that the United States “does not need the rest of the world” to actively participate in keeping our nation safe is laughably out of touch with reality. American hegemony (political, economic, and social) DEPENDS on the very fact that our relationship with the world is symbiotic. Since WWII, the world has looked to America for financial and military support and thought guidance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, this has only increased throughout the globe, in a way never before seen in human civilization. This has fed our Republic's soul and has allowed us to prosper economically and politically – making the 20th Century the “American Century”. For, from its beginnings in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the words of Jonathan Winthrop (a Kerry ancestor) and his “City on a Hill”, America has held close it it's heart a messianic mission of leading the world to a freer, better existence. Yet, for all of America's current power, such power is meaningless if the world does not follow our lead.
Thus, perhaps the best course of action when it comes to international relations for an American administration in the days of our hegemony is simply a dose of humility. Everybody knows the score. America is currently the most powerful force in the history of the planet, and can act without the permission of any other sovereign entity. However, infuriating the rest of the planet hurts our very ability to exercise this hegemony. Treating other countries as if they are merely a nuisance in the American march to change the world has alienated even those states which are most sympathetic to American interests. In doing so, Bush has It stretched our military resources to the brink, boot-strapped our economy, and hampered our ability to make other sovereign states respond to our desires.
In short, America needs to be needed by the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this simple point seems to be far too subtle for the Bush administration to grasp.
Reprehensible Campaign Tactics
The final straw which has alienated me from your policies over the past year has been the offensive nature of Republican campaign tactics in this election. Firstly, American elections are won by selling the American people on a better vision for the future. Without a tangible vision for a better future, after spending our country into an inevitable recession, after alienating the world, after trampling on the constitution, the RNC has decided its best path is to scare the living crap out the American people instead. Every where you turn, some Republican ideologue is attempting to get the public to fear everything. Fear the “Terrorists”. Fear globalism. Fear liberal (small “l”) thinking. Fear Godlessness. Fear not having John Cheney around to run things. Fear John Kerry.
This fear has been coupled with the repugnant campaigning tactics of Karl Rove. This has been going on with Karl Rove since he started, yet the RNC has never held him accountable for the mere fact that his repulsive smear tactics get the results you desire. You turned a blind eye in Texas in 1994. You turned a blind eye in South Carolina in 2000. You have turned a blind eye this year to the “Swift Boat Veterans For ‘Truth’”. Rove’s methods are dirty, anti-democratic and unacceptable. They undermine not just Bush's opponents, but our entire electoral system. The fact that almost no Republican can admit this makes me lose faith in the party in general.
Yet, the very act of questioning the President or the RNC view of the world has been deemed to be an unpatriotic sin by the far right. Anyone who questions the President is jeopardizing "the troops" or the nation, just in asking the question. Paradoxically, the most facist of all the RNC messages spouted so far in this campaign, this seems to have the most legs.
I simply am not willing to sell my soul and the democratic principles of the United States down the river to win an election. Maybe that’s the difference between me and you – I refuse to become a hypocrite.
The Final Word
I just can’t take it any more. Your tactics as a party make me physically repulsed and I fear for the state of our union. I have not abandoned my conservative, progressive, or Federalist positions, by my party has. So, in response, this patriot is exercising his patriotism right now, at his computer. He is doing it by calling you and your supporters and all your cronies out. Stop ruining my country!
I guess, in this end, Hunter S. Thompson’s slaying of the Bush (43) presidency in Rolling Stone last week has the last word on what is at stake in the upcoming election. He writes, “The question this [election year] is not whether President Bush is acting more and more like the head of a fascist government but if the American people want it that way. That is what this election is all about.”
I urge you all to look deep into your American hearts this week and ask yourself that question, “Do I want my government to continue acting more and more facist?”
Well, this Republican doesn’t want it that way any more. That is why you have lost my vote and support in 2004.