12/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why I'm a Rogue Republican

My old California pals Bob and Larry, who are both wealthy, bigwig Republicans, are not happy with me. They are accusing me of having become a liberal because of my criticism of President George Bush and my evident lack of enthusiasm for Sen. John McCain's Republicans.

My pals are wrong. I've been a lifelong Republican and plan to spend all Eternity as one. I enlisted in the US Army as an infantryman during the Vietnam War when so many of today's `patriotic' Republicans - the ones with those little American flag lapel pins - were dodging the draft or playing weekend warrior in the National Guard.

For decades, angry leftwing readers have branded me a `fascist hyena,' `CIA agent,' and `American imperialist.' Now Bob and Larry think I've gone off the lefty deep end because I opposed the ruinous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and because I'm even grudgingly ready to pay higher taxes just to get the calamity-prone Republicans out of power.

As a lifelong, rock-ribbed Republican, I am more likely to become a Hari Krishna or Rosicrucian than a liberal Democrat!

So please call me a `rogue Republican.'

I've always been a moderate, conservative Eisenhower Republican who believes in small government, low taxes, saving, hard work, individual freedoms, and avoiding overseas adventures whenever possible.

As a child, I saw President Dwight Eisenhower's inauguration in Washington and treasure the memory to this day. For me, Eisenhower was the embodiment of America's finest qualities: courage, honesty, human decency, modesty and plain speaking. He warned Americans of the danger of the military-industrial complex, a term he coined, and called for global nuclear disarmament.

I've said it before and say it again: I like Ike. When Eisenhower was president, America was respected and admired around the non-Communist world.

I have high regard for Sen. John McCain and believe he would make a fine president. But he showed terrible judgment in picking Sarah Palin as Vice President, and by surrounding himself with neocon advisors like Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Randy Scheunemann, Elliot Abrams and other extremists who played a major role in creating the frightful foreign affairs mess the US now faces. They have made America hated around the globe.

Equally bad, today's Republicans are no longer a party of the democratic center. After the 9/11 attacks, Bush and Dick Cheney packed their administration with rabid neocon warmongers who drove the nation and Republican Party so far right it flirted at times with fascism.

When I hear `Republican' these days, the words that comes to my mind are: arrogance, ignorance, and just plain dumbness.

Religious fundamentalists have become the bedrock of the Bush presidency. Today, 44-50% of Republican voters call themselves born-again Christian fundamentalists who believe every word of the Bible is true. Their most urgent foreign policy goal is to recreate Biblical Israel so their Messiah can return and destroy the planet.

That is no longer my party. The Grand Old Republican Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has been hijacked by America's rural heartland and the southern-fried Bible Belt. The Republican Party no longer primarily speaks for most educated, worldly, city-dwelling Americans.

McCain's choice of an evangelical Christian ultra conservative, Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman of stunning vulgarity and ignorance, is testimony to the dumbing down of the party and its transformation into a populist religious movement. But he may have had to do so. Without Palin, many on the Christian right, cool about McCain, would not have even voted, assuring his defeat.

Note to Bob and Larry: I haven't changed my politics and remain firmly in the center. But the Republican Party has lurched so far to the right that the old center looks like the left to many Republicans. My party abandoned me in the year 2000.

Barack Obama is dead wrong to propose raising taxes or sending more troops to Afghanistan, an ignoble conflict he mislabels `the good war.' But he certainly is no socialist, as Palin charges. Nationalizing the nation's banks is socialist. Urging world domination neocon-style is National Socialist.

Raising taxes for the wealthy is not socialist, just a Democratic Party shibboleth that has been proven counter-productive time and again.

Republicans disgraced the nation by all their lies about Iraq, endorsing torture, assassinations, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, secret prisons, kidnapping, kangaroo courts, spying on US citizens and undermining America's Constitution. Too many cowardly Democrats joined this lynch mob. Such vile behavior made me ashamed to call myself an American.

The Republican Party now speaks for many rich fat cats, the military-industrial-petroleum complex, and some of the least educated, most backwards, most prejudiced Americans. McCain and Palin have shamelessly stoked anti-black, anti-Muslim and anti-foreign hatred and fear among them during this campaign. So, to a lesser degree, did Hilary Clinton.

Gen. Colin Powell did the right thing by breaking with John McCain, denouncing racism and Islamophobia, and warning of the party's lurch to the far right. However, I wish he had also come clean regarding all the lies about Iraq he delivered at the UN. The good general still owes us an explanation.

America desperately needs a reborn, moderate Republican Party freed from narrow-minded religious ideology and ruralism that will return the nation to its former democratic values and multilateral policies. This was the United States the world used to respect.