04/18/2007 03:22 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

So You're Still a Republican?

I almost feel sorry for my Republican friends.

They once belonged to a respectable political party that could be trusted from time to time to run the country--with some oversight of a Democratic congress, of course.

Now, that the GOP party bus is out of control, careening downhill headed for the precipice, moderate Republicans are in a terrible quandary. They can remember what happened in 1932, when the country turned on the GOP for mismanagement, casting them into political oblivion for two decades.

Because moderates often differ with the rightwing of their party on such issues as stem cell research, the environment, choice, gun control, and the Iraq war, they are labeled RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). In recent years, these old school Republicans have been sidelined, at best, or "pistol whipped" into accepting the neo-con agenda.

These passive Republicans speak in rambling sentences about the handling of the war, the stain of torture, the spectacle or corruption, and our loss of moral authority in the world.

Moderates are not the only ones feeling the pain of conformity. Pity the GOP presidential hopefuls who must grovel, lie, or recant in order to curry the favor of their captors. How sad to watch McCain and Romney bend themselves into political pretzels, while Brownback and Huckabee vie for political sainthood.

Giuliani and Gingrich hope, that like Ted Haggard and Jimmy Swaggart, they can be "cured" of their "sins" and emerge as the born-again heroes of the religious right.

In the months ahead, look for Dobson to go into the indulgence selling business, extracting a "price" for forgiveness from those he "ordains" with his favor.

Still, too many moderate Republicans are clinging to the party that has both embarrassed and annihilated them. A recent NYT/CBS News poll shows that while Republicans are fretting about their misfortunes, 75% of them approve the president's job performance and give him high marks on handling foreign policy, the economy, and the war.

So what is to become of the party of Eisenhower, Taft, Ford, Dirksen, and Nelson Rockefeller? Will the loyal remain lashed to the mast and go down with the ship?

Christy Todd Whitman, former EPA director and New Jersey governor, wrote a book, It's My Party, too; Taking Back the Republican Party, in which she deplored the "tight" structure of today's GOP, that once prided itself on being an "umbrella party."

She faulted centrists for causing the umbrella to collapse, as they sat back feeling uncomfortable and irrelevant, hoping commonsense would ultimately prevail.

As I said earlier, I almost feel sorry for my Republican friends. But I am getting over it. I can no longer allow them the luxury of being indifferent bystanders during such a perilous time in our history.

By going along and not fighting back, they have become enablers of right-wing zealots, whose policies are inflicting grave harm to our nation.

This administration has lost its political and spiritual moorings and it's time for Republicans of conscience to say so.