Dear Friends in the Republican Party:
I'm the guy you're not supposed to worry about. Amid all the recriminations over how you lost the presidential election -- by teeing off those Latinos, blacks, women, young people and people who build American cars -- my demographic is your friend: Mitt Romney got 62 percent of white male vote.
I, however, am part of the 38 percent. Not long ago, I'd have been with the 62. I figured you might want to know why a freckle-faced kid who knocked on doors for Richard Nixon at age eight grew up to knock on doors for Barack Obama at age 53.
You have an attitude problem.
Before you dismiss me as a godless, socialist moocher, consider who this is coming from: someone who, in 1968, scribbled "Nixon's the One" signs in crayon, taped them to his bicycle, and went door-to-door in his neighborhood asking people who they would vote for; who at 18 registered as a Republican; who at 25 served as membership chairman of the New York Young Republican Club; who voted for Reagan and the first Bush.
Today I'm a registered independent: more conservative than my co-workers, more liberal than my wife. But while I take pride in my middle-of-the-roadness, in recent years I've found myself voting more and more for Democrats. This year, I did straight party-line vote for the D's.
What happened? A guy hates to say this about a break-up, but I gotta be honest: It's you.
You used to be smart and fun. But you grew up to become the mean old nut of the neighborhood: angry, paranoid, intolerant. You throw rocks at everyone who disagrees with you. You yell that evil forces are taking over. You whisper that we're about to turn Greek. It freaks me out.
I miss hanging out with you. I used to enjoy tuning in to Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh now and then, and hearing Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp explain things. Even when I disagreed with them, I had to admit they had a point. The Republican primaries were a font of smart ideas.
Your last round of primaries, however, felt like that neighborhood nut had formed a fringe party with his pals. They ran around the stage in their robes trying to push each other off the deep end. Conservative talk radio? The rants have grown so vicious that I quit visiting. The ravings of your party leaders -- the likes of Boehner, Bachmann, McConnell and Lott -- make me want to vote for whatever they attack.
This has gone beyond where we stand on issues like taxes, entitlements and climate change; I don't like you anymore even when I agree with you. You gradually pushed me so far away that this year I crossed a line: Twice I went to the swing state of Virginia to knock on doors for Obama.
I'm no fan. I voted for the president because I thought he did a good job in hard circumstances; I worked for him because I could not sit by and watch vitriol and obstinance get rewarded with victory.
My anti-Republicanism surprised even me. When one Virginia voter asked for advice on the governor's race, which I knew little about, I explained that I find the Republican Party so obnoxious that it hurt the country. So when I'm neutral about two candidates, I go for the Democrat. "Makes sense," he said.
I hear that you plan to solve your electoral problem by shifting a bit on immigration to placate Latinos, by stressing that rape is bad, by putting a dark face on your next presidential ticket. It's not that simple.
As one CNN commentator detailed so well here, Romney lost big even in several overwhelmingly white states like Iowa, Ohio and Vermont. Your field workers are shocked that Romney got 200,000 fewer white votes in Ohio than McCain did four years ago - a falloff that exceeds Obama's margin of victory there.
Many white people do not buy your Armageddonish warnings that America is being overtaken by aliens from Philadelphia.
Your fundamental problem is the way you think. Your candidates' comments about "the 47 percent," "legitimate rape" and Obama's "gifts" to minorities and women were not mistakes; those guys got caught being honest.
I know you have other thinkers in the big tent you used to promote. If you let some of them out, you might win some of us back.