Hi there. I'm new here, but have read DK for several years, and this is - ta da! - my first diary.
In order to properly introduce myself, I have to explain why I'm a Ben Tre Republican. First, what the heck do I mean by 'Ben Tre?'
During the Vietnam War, a USAF officer famously told AP reporter Peter Arnett that the village of Ben Tre in South Vietnam was destroyed, in order to save it. I have the same philosophy regarding the present Republican Party - it must be destroyed, root and branch, in order to save it and the Republic.
(I used to refer to myself as a 'Pants-Down Republican,' but it had unfortunate Larry Craig connotations.)
I've always been a Republican, and damned proud of my Party. It was the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. I was raised Republican; so much so, in fact, that I voted for Richard Nixon in 1969 (I was eight - the polling place had a small machine set aside for kids to play with while the grownups went about their civic duty).
I was proud of the fact that I could vote for Reagan in 1980. My first actual, honest-to-Cthulhu vote, and it was basically a reflexive, not a reflective choice. As the years went by I started paying more attention to the actual issues.
The more I read, and the more I saw, the more disquieted I became. The Party of Lincoln was embracing the old unreconstructed Dixiecrats; the Party of Teddy Roosevelt had a Secretary of the Interior who was all for destroying the environment; and the Party of Ike seemed hell-bent on getting us into a full-blown war Somewhere, in the apparent belief that we needed to get the taste of Vietnam out of our mouths.
Reagan's second term brought us Iran-Contra, and my disillusionment increased. Like the late Hunter S. Thompson, I was appalled that the GOP was trying to get around laws and basically ended up with 241 dead Marines on its hands. I can only assume that the Democrats at the time figured that one impeachment in ten-plus years had been enough - it would explain why they didn't start proceedings, but doesn't absolve them completely.
Things went from bad to worse in the GOP when Clinton got elected, with the Republicans trying a bit of the old tit-for-tat by impeaching him over the most specious of reasons (true, he lied under oath, but that's nowhere "high crimes and misdemeanors," and Warren Harding was a randier fellow than Bill). The GOP also started mucking about with the economy and defying common sense by actually shutting down the government.
That little move cost Gingrich & Company a lot of credibility, and the stench of it still clings to Newt like skunk spray that no amount of tomato juice will counteract.
Things in the Republican Party went off the edge of the map in 1999. I watched a television interview with the man they considered the front-runner for the 2000 nomination, Governor George W. Bush of Texas. I sat there, watching the interview open-mouthed.
This is the best my Party can offer? I asked myself.
John F. Kennedy's Cabinet was called 'The Best and the Brightest;' the Bush Campaign of 2000 was by far the Worst and the Meanest at that time (to my chagrin, they've stooped a lot lower since then). I had voted for Clinton in 1992 and 1996; I voted for Gore in 2000. My opinion of that electoral outcome I shall keep to myself.
By 2004 I was ready to vote for the Hohenzollern Pretender. Yes, I'd vote Monarchist (constitutional monarchy seems to have worked out okay in the UK; they don't have a Vice President, but they do have a Queen to open post offices and the like) as an alternative to Bush.
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, saying on my blog that I thanked the Goddess that I had lived long enough to see this. I was less enthusiastic about the sheer amount of racist demagoguery and outright toxic hate poured out by the GOP during that campaign. I became completely convinced that my Party had gone crazy.
Just how crazy was indicated by McCain's selection (ha ha) of Sarah Palin. Her ABC interview alone convinced me that this woman should never, never, be allowed within a mile of the nuclear launch codes. Every time she opened her mouth she subtracted from the sum of human intelligence.
So here we are, on the cusp, as it were, of another election. What does my Party, the Party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ike have to offer? The 2012 Party Platform is little short of apocalyptic (and appropriate for 2012):
Held in thrall by a thirteen-year-old Grover Norquist's vision of small (for which read, "crippled and stunted") government, the GOP is embracing all of the worst impulses of the American Id. It's anti-immigrant, even to advocating murder; it's hell-bent not only on perpetuating a war in Afghanistan, but on involving us in yet another military adventure in Southwest Asia.
It's anti-science stances are appalling. Science and technology have gotten us into messes, and no amount of magical thinking or saccharine prayers to some supernatural entity will get us out of them. After Sputnik, the Eisenhower Administration and the Congress passed the National Defense Education Act, which spurred science education in the public schools. Only by encouraging science and rational and critical thinking will we be able to compete with the rest of the world and fix our problems.
The GOP's gone anti-woman as well, deciding on the flimsiest reasoning that women are too stupid or irresponsible to have any say whatever over their reproductive health or any decision relating to their bodies. One GOPer several years ago (for extra Irony Points, a woman who was Secretary of State for Missouri) even went so far as to suggest that the Nineteenth Amendment should be abolished - in effect, doing herself out of a job.
The Republican Party have become like Talleyrand's Bourbons - they have forgotten nothing and they have learned nothing. They want us to turn the clock back not to the supposedly idyllic Neverland of the 1950s, but to the 1850s; a time when the non-whites Knew Their Place and women were kept barefoot and pregnant and the great preponderance of wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few robber barons and you breathed foul air, ate tainted food and drank polluted water . . .
The Republican Party has lost its right to exist. My Party must die, in order for it to be saved. It can go off and call itself something else - The Party of God, perhaps (but maybe that's too close to Hezbollah). But it daren't call itself Republican any longer.
That's why I'm a Ben Tre Republican, and that's why I'm here.