April 10, 2005
-- by Gary Boatwright
First, an introduction. I was invited to be a guest blogger, and Dave suggested I introduce myself. I began my political activism as that rare political creature known as a Bush 41 Democrat. At the time I was fed up with the Democratic party for the reasons detailed in a Washington Monthly article, Party Down! I attended my first State political convention and that was pretty much the end of my political activism for a while.
Towards the end of Reagan's second term, my brief stint as a RINO ended. I went back to school to finish my degree, and did an internship for a couple of Democratic State legislators. That didn't lead anywhere career wise and my next brief political hiatus from the real world was to canvass on Universal Health Care in the early 90's. We all know how that turned out.
That's the sum total of my prior political involvement. I did not make the effort to become politically active again for another ten years. President Bush changed everything.
This I Believe
Nothing real heavy here. Since our political beliefs are the sum total of our previous life experience, I thought I'd provide a little background in the evolution of my political ideology. I missed or took a pass on the Vietnam war. I was not politically engaged in the greatest political and social issue of my generation. I had two older brothers who were drafted and sent to Nam. They both advised me to do whatever it took to avoid going. The easiest out was a college deferment. The lottery saved me from being compelled to make any personal moral decisions based on my unformed personal convictions.
In 1979, frustrated with the Democrats, I become a Bush 41 Democrat and went to my State Republican Convention as a Bush delegate. Reagan won the nomination, and that was fine with me. I didn't have any big problems with President Reagan. He was a little too socially conservative to suit me, but he listened to his economic advisors and pulled us back from the brink of economic disaster. During my brief stint as a RINO, I educated myself about conservatism. Kirk's Ten Principles weren't published until a few years later, but in general terms, my conservative beliefs were summed up by Russell Kirk's "Ten Conservative Principles with a tinge of libertarianism thrown in for spice. To this day, I still believe they are admirable guidelines for a political philosophy.
Reagan's social conservatism and the conservatism of the Republican party kept me from ever being more than a RINO. I didn't have a favorite between Dole and Clinton, but I thought Clinton turned out to be the best choice at the time. Not out of any great political conviction, because like most Americans, I was preoccupied with the business of living and hadn't bothered to educate myself about Clinton's political beliefs, except in broad terms. Clinton seemed perfectly acceptable to me, but I was still what I describe in today's terms as a Lou Dobbs conservative, or pragmatic/utilitarian conservative.
Newt Gingrich changed all of that. I wasn't paying a great deal of attention, but what I heard from Newt concerned me. Not enough to actually do anything politically, but enough to trigger my First Amendment right to bitch. Probably the primary reason I continued to vote regularly, was the old saw "If you don't vote, don't bitch." Since I have always been quite accomplished at flapping my gums about political issues, I wanted to preserve my right to bitch about politicians, unfettered by the petty distraction about whether or not I had forfeited my right to complain, by not even taking the small effort required to vote.
Newt was a clearly a radical and not in a direction I approved of. His grenade throwing tactics and extreme conservative viewpoints triggered a visceral reaction. He was also quite loopy. Based on the political science courses I had taken in college, and the reading I had done since, a lot of the things Newt claimed as fundamental principles and the things he tried to do did not ring true. The Contract On America ended my brilliant career as a RINO. I became an ex-RINO, but I wasn't quite a DINO yet. I believed in the necessity of Health Care for All and I approved of unions. Two of the primary reasons I could never be more than a RINO. The strongest disagreement I had with Reagan was when he fired the PATCO strikers.
I was too unsatisfied with how BillandHillary had botched their health care initiative and not all that certain about the rest of their platform. The only thing I was certain about was that Newt and the direction the Republican party had taken were bad news for America. In 1993 I moved to sunny Southern California and registered as a Democrat. I wasn't a strong Democrat, but all I knew about California Republicans was Ronald Reagan, B -1 Bob and Dana Rohrabacher. No way I was one of those.
I continued to be a dispassionate Democrat. I didn't see any reason to get actively involved in politics. I didn't care for Gov. Pete Wilson at all, but didn't have sufficient reason to really do anything about it, except bitch of course. I kept busy starting my new life in California. I clearly recall the event that triggered my slow transformation. Like most Americans, I was following the Starr investigation; probably a little closer than most. Like most Americans, I couldn't make heads or tails of Whitewater, but the process the Republicans used, and the course Ken Starr took were deeply troubling. The trigger was Filegate and Travelgate. I looked at those two ludicrous charges and I thought, How could you possibly be that stupid?
My bitching reflex kicked into high gear, but not enough to actually do anything. I watched the whole sorry episode from the sidelines and thought, this too shall pass. Surely the American people will punish the dummies who put our country through this turmoil. Unfortunately, the Democrats followed their natural instinct to select seriously flawed candidates. Having said that, Al Gore's biggest problem was his inability to deal with a very hostile national press corp. Regular readers of The Daily Howler know exactly what I'm talking about. That and bungling the aftermath of the Fiasco in Florida.
In the meantime we had chosen a new Governor of California and Gray Davis certainly didn't do anything to excite my political passion. The energy crisis came and went and The Ahnold became our new governor. I painfully and regretfully admit that I voted for The No Neck Porkinator. The Ahnold talked the talk to get elected, but doesn't have a clue how to walk and chew gum at the same time. The Ahnold has also adopted the Bush/Rove/Republican party/conservative principle of pathological lying as political strategy.
During the 2004 Presidential campaign I was in high bitchin' dudgeon. I actually made my first political campaign contributions to a variety of sources and I started blogging for fun and political enlightenment. I was by that time an ideological ex-smoker, who was repulsed by all things conservative and Republican. I was still a political arm chair quarterback, because I didn't believe 59 million Americans could be that dumb! I bought Amy Goodwin's book, lots of other books, and finally got off my dead and dying political butt.
I attend DFA Meet Ups and am an active participant in politics in cyber-space and in the real world. I intend to do everything I possibly can to stop the tide of Compassionate Fascism that conservatism has morphed in to. I don't use that term lightly. Psuedo-fascism is certainly a more intellectually accurate description of the phenomenon formerly known as conservatism. I prefer Compassionate Fascism because it has a more folksy ring to it, and the only substantive missing elements are the ruder aspects like pulling citizens from their homes in the dead of night and assassinating them. Well, domestically anyway.
Observant readers will have noticed that I have strong opinions about certain things. My distaste for all things Republican and conservative, has not enamored me of the DLC. I also harbor strong opinions about the failure of the DLC to take aggressive, bold actions to protect our Constitutional Republic. We will undoubtedly get into that later.
Observant readers will also have noticed that pith is not one of my strong suits. I will make a valiant attempt not to be so tedious in the future. In part this lengthy introduction is a defensive mechanism against a pet peeve of mine. There is a very regretable tendency in the blogosphere, and in the political sphere, to impute value and beliefs to your political adversary. On occasion, people will even attempt to put words in your mouth that you clearly did not say. For those people I post The Shootist's Warning:
"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."
Don't attribute values or beliefs to me that I do not hold. Do not try to tell me what I really mean. Most certainly, do not put words in my mouth that I did not say and I will gladly do the same in return. Reasonable inquiry for purposes of clarification are frequently in order. I have no problem with that. There is a line that none of us should cross in this regard and I sincerely wish it was more rigorously observed.
As I said, this is in part a defensive mechanism as well as an introduction. I also hope I have met the stringent disclosure requirements that are being discussed for the blogosphere. In the future, when someone accuses me of believing or saying something that is not true, I can simply link to this post and save everybody a considerable amount of keystrokes and trouble. Since it is early Sunday morning, hopefully this lengthy post will slide quickly down the page to oblivion. Now that the Pope has been laid to rest, Breaking News should also return from it's respectful sabbatical. Hopefully, other guest bloggers at Seeing the Forest will have astute observations on the newly unleashed Breaking News and perhaps The Sunday Funny Shows as well. I for one look forward to Senator Biden's comments on his vote for bankruptcy legislation. Since he's opposite Sen. Lugar on The Late Edition, the topic is probably foreign policy, and I suspect that his bankruptcy vote will be politely ignored by Wolf.
Assuming my role as guest blogger works out and Dave does not immediately banish me for an exorbitant use of bandwidth, I appreciate your indulgence and look forward to getting further acquainted.
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I look forward to reading your thought oftin
I hope others feel the same way
Posted by: Mspell at April 10, 2005 3:33 PM
Thank-you for your kinds words Mspell. I was hoping I was not being too self indulgent with my introduction.
Posted by: Gary Boatwright at April 10, 2005 6:36 PM
Thanks for commenting on my blog (and reading it). I would say that MyDD and Kos would lable the DLC as the democratic equivalant of the Club for Growth, but there is only a handful of people that really want to move the party to the right and they are folks like ex-D, ex-Sen. Zell Miller.
They are a 501c3, but I struggle with how to quantify them. Probabbly with CATO and Hoover and others on the right, that is, a group that has a set ideology and tries to convince policymakers that their way is right (and to come up with ideas that fit and further that role). But at the same time, they try to convince the Democratic party that they have the right formula for winning elections. But since they don't advocate for anyone's election/defeat like 527 groups or PACs do, I have trouble lumping them in with Club for Growth or MoveOn or DFA.
...I don't know if this answers your question. If you would like, I could make you a guest blogger on my site or you can write more about the subject on yours and will comment.
Congrats in being a fully reformed GOPer.
Posted by: DaveB at April 13, 2005 4:41 PM
Yep, it's me! (the blue bastard) I just had a thought provoking (oh, hell, mind blowing) comment get extraordinarily renditioned over at MyDD. And so I'm somewhat urinated. But hey, fornicate 'em if they can't take a joke!
I'll send it to you if you like -- maybe you can figure out what made them so miffed. It would be easier if they would just ship me off to camp X-ray.
By the way, if you know anyone who wants to learn the really scientific theory about hoe human language works, send them my new site (still-under-construction):
(Don't feel bad -- I myself volunteered for Barry Goldwater when I was a seriously misled little tyke.
Posted by: blues at December 20, 2005 5:50 AM
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