Dearest Republican Party -
Please know, I write this letter with love. You have given me so much and I owe it to you... I owe it to explain why I am leaving.
Granted, why should anyone take this letter seriously? After all, at only the young age of 30, I've already lost two elections, and according to some, I might not be able to campaign my way out of a wet paper bag.
But for some reason, when I have something to say, it seems that a lot of people listen. Yes, often times it is to ridicule me, vilify, demonize... but Maybe it's because they're aren't many people who have knocked on over 20,000 doors begging for votes, as well as run a major statewide campaign, all before the age of 30? There's gotta be some wisdom gained from all of that. And for those reasons, I think most would want to know why this 30-year-old, after so many experiences, is switching from Republican to Democrat.
So here goes -
There are three things I have always labeled myself before 'Republican,' as follows - a Constitutionalist, a Capitalist, and an American.
Consider this idea: without Capitalism, our Constitution, and our great country of America to hold both things together, there would be no Republican Party. There would be no Islam, Christianity, or Judaism. There would be no freedom! Ultimately, this is the finest credit of our Founding Fathers, a modern day group of divinely inspired saints, who wrote the greatest set of laws and actively fought for their implementation.
And yes, some will say that Europe (and Canada) would lead our world without America, but such words are the height of intellectual dishonesty. In France and Quebec, Muslim women may soon not be allowed to wear veils in many public places. In Switzerland, you are not allowed to build a minaret, a quasi-ban against building mosques. In England, various human rights groups have produced reports showing that Muslims are heavily redlined, so aggressively to the point that they have nothing to turn to but their own religion, leaving them angry, and in some cases... extreme.
Yes, the above examples may seem like simple squabbles, but as a minority whose mother grew up on the doorsteps of Afghanistan, where a Communist-Afghan government ceded control to the Soviet Union, with the eventual goal of invading the rest of South Asia and turning all the innocents into serfs, then yes... yes, it is difficult not to remain very cognizant of the stripping of any civil liberty.
In watching this summer, with the promotion of Arizona's SB 1070, calls to revoke the 14th Amendment, anger at the overturn of California's Proposition 8, and lastly, aggressive protest against a mosque in New York City, I came to question how much the GOP values the vision of our American Saints, the Founding Fathers. Quite frankly, we are no longer the party of Constitutionalists.
Now that said, we are not the party of bigotry, either. I know I made many criticisms this last fall, including accusations of bigotry, but on my deepest reflection, especially when I think of all the wonderful precinct captains and activists who fed and cared for me endlessly, when I knocked on doors, carrying our flag, I do not believe that the majority of the current activist network of the Republican Party is motivated by bigotry... and I am sorry for perpetuating that notion.
But I do know what you are motivated by: security.
In an effort to 'protect' what America is, what the Founding Fathers kindly left us, the Republican Party has made the decision to put most emphasis on security - aggressively ridding our country of illegal immigrants who may not share our American values, stopping terrorists, preventing all forms of treason, to the point of... to the point of gutting our Constitution and restricting our civil liberties, all through atrocious programs that will be funded with increased spending and taxes.
The Founding Fathers wrote little on immigration, but their policies led to Ellis Island, where a plaque under our Statue of Liberty read, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free."
When I look at our border with Mexico and see thousands of immigrants, putting themselves inside semis with little water, little food, under terribly hot temperatures, all taking the risk of never breathing again... all for the sake of living in a squalid apartment, so that they can work at a minimum-wage job, well... well, like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, who both supported amnesty, I see a lot of "huddled masses, yearning to breathe free."
I also believe that gays should be able to marry each other, even if it invites violent reaction - like Patrick Henry, I do believe it better to be a dead man with full rights than a living man with none.
And of course, I believe that all religions have a right to worship, and in private property - a complete contrast to the vision of the Soviet Union's Communists, who banned all forms of worship, because to them, there was only one entity that should be worshiped - the government.
And hear this - I will never worship a party or a government, no matter how much its officials may rule by intimidation, because my Constitutional rights are given to me by God. I know who my Creator is, and more importantly, I respect anyone who wants to worship a Creator that is different from mine and I even extend that respect to people who don't believe in any kind of Creator, because to do so, under the vision of our Founding Fathers... well, that's what we call being an "American."
So I am at a juncture - do I stay with my party and work to change it? Or do I spend this precious time pursuing other goals? Because, honestly, I will run for office again - and I will run because I have a vision for what I want America to be:
Fixing our financial system by reimplementing the Glass-Steagall Act, while repealing the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act and the Sarbanes Oxley Act.
Fix campaign finance by repealing the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act and replacing it with a system of unlimited contributions, with full transparency.
Fix health care with a privatized expansion of Medicaid, instead of ObamaCare and mandated health care.
Repeal the Patriot Act.
Cut all tax rates and cut spending.
Help our inner-cities, not with a gentrifying bulldozer, but rather, with opportunities in the form of college scholarships, small business loans, and school vouchers.
And the two most important goals in America, right now - extending equal rights to gays and finding a fair way to turn our illegal immigrants into citizens (a path where they get green cards, provided that they pay back-taxes and pay a fine for entering illegally - we can devise a logical solution, I'm sure).
The good news though? There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of activists, working on all the causes above. But we are sorely missing good leadership on these two issues.
Yes, many gripe about education, but few are offering solutions. As a person who served as a public school tyro-teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District, I think I have the answer. Since our inception and the creation of small, red-bricked schoolhouses, our practices of pedagogy have seen little change. Pedagogy is the way, in which our teachers instruct their students, and sadly, today's pedagogy is based on an IQ score, a shallow evaluation that can somewhat test one's linguistic and logical skill, but too often misrepresents true intelligence. Instead, we need a public school system that is driven by new pedagogy - a system based on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning, and John Dewey's Project Based Learning. Training our teachers to practice these methods of pedagogy, when writing their curriculums and lesson plans, as well as rewriting our evaluations to test based on such theory, will advance our public schools to the next level.
We must stop sanctions and open more free trade. Sanctions against third-world countries, particularly ones driven by dictators, terribly hurt the people, as many studies show, often to the point of exaggerating an already terrible situation. Free trade, as shown by many studies, creates new economies and new jobs, with civil liberties and literacy soaring soon after. The best example would be President Bill Clinton's removal of sanctions and opening of free trade with China - in just a few years, what was a long, Communist tradition, is starting to look very capitalistic! And yes, there is an ugly side... the sweatshops and low wages... but I'll take that any day over Saddam Hussein! And you know what? The people will unionize, demand more rights, and ultimately, a balance is created where capitalism flourishes, hand in hand, with human rights - this is why I truly believe, ultimately, the answer to ending global poverty is through capitalism. Yes, greed is, indeed, good.
Yes, I have some major goals for the world - goals that, to me, justify why I would want to run for office again - and mark my words - I will run again.
But in my deepest heart and with my best intellect... I just cannot see myself winning a Republican primary in my lifetime.
When I appeared on Fox News for one straight week this summer to debate Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, and David Asman over the need to build the Ground Zero mosque, on the basis of Constitutional ideals, I knew it was over...
Let's face it... a 30-second commercial of me, defending the mosque, running during any Republican Primary, over the next 20 years?
I'm finished... I knew it the moment I cinched my bolo tie in front of that Fox News camera.
And let's say, miraculously, that Tea Partying Republicans decide to openly embrace Muslims and fall in love with them and their mosques. I could still never run away from my strongly held pro-gay and pro-immigrant positions... and truly, why stay in a party that doesn't want your voice?
Yes, the Democratic Party is not perfect, but as of today, they are much closer to the Constitution than the GOP, in choosing the Founding Fathers over security, as evidenced by their pro-mosque, pro-gay, and pro-immigration activists... many of whom have kindly opened their door to me.
But the person who opened the door widest? Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
It is Speaker Pelosi, who has personally recruited me to join the Democratic Party. In calling me and asking to meet in Los Angeles, Speaker Pelosi looked into my eyes and said (I am paraphrasing), "I don't mind if you're conservative and don't support universal health care... what I ask of you is that you work to make sure that every American is given an opportunity. If we can agree on that, then you're a Democrat! And I want you to make your home here!"
To me, American opportunity is making sure we have great public schools, great public universities, and credit lines always open to potential small business owners, regardless of race, religion, economic background, and sexual orientation, because education and business creation, truly, are the ways we offer the "American Dream" - and Speaker Pelosi, I can fight proudly for that principle!
And more importantly, like my heroes Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, there is one particular quality of Speaker Pelosi that I adore, which is severely missing in today's political sphere - whenever she is on TV, no matter the channel or the group, Speaker Pelosi always says the same thing - nothing different. She's consistent - and where I come from, we call that "character."
Considering that she is young, motivated, and wants to write a new Democratic Party as we go forward, one based on opportunity for all, I proudly say that Speaker Pelosi is a hero of mine and I'm proud to stand with her as a Democrat, as she will be the primary influence upon our Democratic Party within my lifetime... as well as a great influence upon me.
And in following her path closely, what Speaker Pelosi reminds us is that we should reject political xenophobia, because there is only one thing that makes us all Americans: a drive to be the best! No matter who you are, who you love, what you speak, who you worship, or where you come from, provided that you follow our Constitution... that's what makes you a good American... that drive to be the best.
And it's no wonder that the Founding Fathers would write a Constitution that welcomes all and encourages all those to come in who yearn to "breathe fee." After all, under our system of public universities and healthy small business environments, the more people we welcome inside, the better we will get, because no one offers opportunity the way we do, without discrimination and with such a soft hand... that's what makes America an experience never before found in human history... but an experience whose system of freedoms is dependent upon the tough spines of those intellectuals who are courageous enough to maintain it.
Lifetimes are important... the leaders of today will dictate what is happening 10 years from now and likely more... and life is not infinite (I wish it was)... my choices today must reflect what I hope to accomplish, even if it is 50 years from now, because ultimately, my choices at this age of 30, are probably more important than the ones I'll make when I'm 80, because when 80 rolls around, well... well, the final curtain will be close.
Joining a great Democratic Party? It is the right decision. And while I'm not running anytime soon, I need as much time as I can get to help the Democratic Party by contributing to their candidates, volunteering time for their committees, and overall, helping grow the good party... if I rely on the Democrats to help me carry the goals above, then I need to spend some years helping them first.
In the coming weeks, I will be starting a group that champions gay marriage and pathways of citizenship for Illegal Immigrants, on the basis of Constitutional ideals (look out for that announcement). I'll also be sharing why I'm changing part of my name to "Miguel," in recognition of my recently discovered Spanish/Latino heritage, all things that coincide with this time full of changes.
But with that said, my dearest Republican Party, please know this - I will never regret our time together. Through the 2000s, with George W. Bush as president, we lifted many sanctions against Muslim countries, opened much free trade, and gave so much opportunity that, according to the Millennium Challenge Institute, the Muslim world saw spikes in civil liberties, literacy, and most importantly, jobs! Because through Bush, by aggressively helping the economies of the Muslim world, through free trade and the removal of sanctions, we built the one weapon that will most combat Osama Bin Laden's terrorism - prosperous middle classes! And with 53 of 56 Muslim countries declaring themselves allied with us by the end of 2008, I would say we did excellent... not everything was perfect, but in setting the goal to rid the world of terrorism, we planted the seeds that will not only accomplish such goal, but also end much poverty at the same time.
We did great. And we made for a great family.
I want to specifically and especially thank Speaker Newt Gingrich, a man who mentored me and taught me the greatness of the Republican Party. If the Republican Party can be put in a better direction, I think Speaker Gingrich the best man for the work, provided that he use his brilliant mind to push fiscal conservatism.
I want to thank Senator Jon Kyl - deep down, I know he's a good man, and I hope he champions the 'right' policies, not the popular ones.
A major thank you to Grover Norquist and everyone at the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). Yes, I may be a Democrat now, but I'm still keeping my membership with ATR!
I must thank Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, as well as Governor Ralph Carr, my political heroes, whose values were directly tested in the face of public opinion polls, yet who time and time again, came out with the 'right' position, not the popular one.
Of course, my mother, my biggest hero, my best friend, and the biggest reason for why I was a Republican - for the record, she was the first to actively encourage me to leave the GOP, despite her loyalty to it.
My political mentors, Minority Leader Mike May and Representative Douglas Bruce, the best mentors a man could ask for.
And of course, the great GOP activists of Colorado in the Counties of Lake, Summit, and Eagle, as well as Lincoln, Park, Larimer, El Paso, and Denver. Thank you to my favorite County Chairmen/women, Randy Milhoan of Eagle, Debra Irvine of Summit, MaryEllen Thoren of Lake, Janell Reid of Lincoln, Richard Elsner of Park, Larry Carillo of Larimer, Kay Rendleman of El Paso, and David Dill of Pueblo.
And of most special note: the Republican Party is the one that trained me - your precinct captains, your county chairs, vice-chairs, secretaries and treasurers - the ones who taught me how to knock on doors, get my teeth knocked out, put them back in my mouth and keep on going... you did become my family... and these lessons you gave me... these lessons will be my best advantage when I run again.
Should I be successful someday in making our foreign policy and public schools better, you, the Republican Party... you can be the first to take credit, because through you, I learned, I gained, I bettered myself.
I became wiser.
And you, the Republican Party, you brought the best out of me.
Some say I should stay. That I should stay and... and "change" you. And for the last few months, maybe I haphazardly tried?
But trying to "change" you is proving to be more devastating than even leaving.
Who am I to say you should change? Me? A two-time loser?
But more importantly, how am I suppose to enjoy this continual fight with family? How is a son supposed to go to his mother and tell her she's wrong? The precinct captains who fed him and taught him so much, when he knocked on all those doors? Would a good son truly stay here, just to continually tell his mother that she should "change?"
For this historical record will note, that I left you as a grateful, not an ingrate.
Yes, I do wish this was a song on the radio that would never end... a dance that could last forever... a moment in time I could freeze, put in my pocket, and keep as mine... forever.
But if running for office has truly taught me anything, it's that there are just some things I can never control, no matter how much I really wish I could.
What will I keep forever?
A broken red heart.
With love and peace - thank you.
Muhammad Miguel Ali Hasan
December of 2010
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