I haven't always been a straight-ticket voter. Although I've always registered as a Democrat, there was a time when I voted for people, not parties. In the past, I've voted for a few Republicans. The last time was in 1994, when I voted for Arne Carlson (R) as governor of Minnesota.
There is not a single Republican I would vote for today. The party of "smaller government" has steadily been going off the rails since Reagan courted the votes of religious fundamentalists, and it's only gotten less rational with every exclusionary fringe element it's taken under its wing, including Tea Partiers, the Koch Bros., and too many wild-eyed candidates and talking heads to call out by name.
Today, I judge the Republican party by the company it keeps and it's not appealing. In fact, it's downright ugly. Besides the blatant racists and rape debaters, there are Tea Partiers who have threatened armed revolt and a group of military members who planned to take over the government and assassinate Obama. A Republican Senate candidate in Iowa quit the race to join a "shadow" government. In Texas, a judge is warning that there will be a civil war if Obama wins, and that's only the tip of the craziness that's plaguing the Republican party.
The Koch Bros. and others have made a concerted effort to oust Republican moderates.
At a time when jobs should be the priority, Republicans refused to pass a jobs bill simply because they didn't want Obama to get any credit. In a poor economy, Republicans chose to introduce over 1100 bills last year to restrict a woman's right to birth control and abortion. Seven "birthers" were invited to speak at the GOP convention, to support a candidate that's only a puppet to Karl Rove and company. Romney refuses to release his tax returns, and his running mate gave a speech so full of lies, that even right-wing friendly media couldn't find excuses for him.
US tax revenue is at the lowest point since 1950, but Republicans are demanding more tax cuts for the wealthy and the wealthiest corporations -- many of which already pay no taxes at all. The financial brunt of this lopsidedness has been borne by the middle class and small business owners, a fact that Republican policies don't address -- except in their rush to pin all the blame on safety nets for the poor -- promising to diminish them even more which, in the long-term, doesn't help society or business at all. At the same time, red states like AZ and FL are considering bills to lower the already subsistent minimum wage. We've already got McDonalds and Walmart employees on food stamps. How much lower would Republicans like them to go? How many more people would they like cut off from the possibility of upward mobility, of achieving middle class status?
Recently, someone asked me if I would ever vote Republican again. After my shock wore off -- because I truly can't imagine being on the same team as the woman who came up with the "Don't Renig in 2012" bumpersticker, or the RNC delegate who was offended by a Mexican working at Epcot, or with Megadeth singer Dave Mustain, who accused Obama of planning the Aurora theater and Sikh temple shootings -- I decided to sit down and remember the Republican party as it used to be. Before it became a fringe movement of anarchists, racists, militia members, the uber-wealthy, religious fanatics, and obstructionists.I came up with seven things that the Republican party would have to do if they were ever interested in getting my vote again.
- Get out of my womb. I don't care whether you acknowledge it as a "war on women" or not, the fact is that my body is mine. Nowhere is it stamped "Property of the US Government". Everything I carry inside my body is also mine. Birth control and abortion are not against my belief system. If it's against your religion, then you and your partner can make your own decisions, but don't try to legislate your religiously-based beliefs onto others.
- When you talk about "personal liberty" and "freedom" understand that it means for all people, not just people who share your religion or your beliefs. Meaning that government has no place in my womb, my bedroom, my personal relationships, or my decision on whom to marry.
- Distance yourself from the extremists. With only two dominant parties to choose from, they'll likely vote for you anyway, but you don't have to court them or cater to them.
- Stop trying to grind labor into the ground. The pride that Americans take in working and providing for their families is steadily being corroded by a stagnant economy, lower wages, a higher cost of living and fewer opportunities. You do nothing to raise the spirits or circumstances of the working and middle-class when you incentivize corporations to relocate overseas, disproportionately blame labor for business failures, bash unions, propose lowering the minimum wage, and kill necessary job bills.
- Admit that the "trickle down" theory was a disaster and quit trying to reintroduce it under new names. Between 1979 and 2007, the income of the top 1% rose by 275%, while there was only an 18% increase for the bottom 20%. Between 1993 and 2008, the top 1% captured 52 percent of total income gains. There is an unprecedented wage gap between the rich and poor. While there's nothing wrong with being wealthy -- it is part of the American Dream after all -- the fact is that the number of newly wealthy is shrinking, while those who are already wealthy are gaining more. Worldwide, the top 2% now own 50% of the world's assets. This imbalance doesn't enhance capitalism, but does threaten ingenuity, growth, and opportunity.
- Understand that government is supposed to be "for the people, by the people" and not "for corporations, by corporations". Overturn Citizens United through a constitutional amendment and end the influence of big money in politics.
- End the cannibalization of moderates and centrists.
Follow Jane Devin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/janedevin