I will NOT be voting for Barack Obama for President. However, I can sympathize with many of the sentiments expressed in this announcement by longtime Valley Republican activist Jason Burkins in declaring that he will not be voting Republican for President. I've known Jason Burkins since back in the day when he was a rising star of Wilbraham politics and appeared as my guest one day when I was filling in for Dan Yorke on WHYN. He is as grassroots Republican as they come, and the party would be wise to heed much of what he says.
by Jason Burkins
Chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of Massachusetts
Chairman, Ward 5, Somerville Republican Committee
As a Massachusetts Republican, it has always been understood that I am not the prototypical Republican one thinks of when considering the national party’s platform and philosophies. Though I have always disagreed with the party on various issues, I have always been able to find more common ground with my fellow GOP brethren than with the Democrat Party. Since the election of George W. Bush as president, over the past eight years, that common ground has slipped and dwindled.
I have stood with the party even while opposing the massive assault on civil liberties cloaked as necessary for our national defense, the questionable decision to invade Iraq and even more questionable decisions about troop levels and war strategy. I have hung in there in the face of mounting budget deficits, dangerous diplomatic policies and a seeming unwillingness to address the energy crisis and global climate change. I have watched as the evangelical wing of the party has taken control, focusing less on efficient, un-obstructive government and more on issues such as banning gay marriage, teaching creationism and spying on America’s citizenry.
Having said all this, I have not given up hope that the Republican Party will return to the principles of its founder, Abraham Lincoln. The principles of fiscal responsibility, equality, free enterprise, individual rights and the belief that the U.S. Constitution is the driving document that keeps America strong.
Which brings me to the current election for the Presidency of the United States. Republicans have only ourselves to blame if John McCain loses this election. Many Republicans looking to explain it away will point to the campaign and say we should have nominated Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee or God knows who else, but the fact is we were right to nominate the maverick Senator McCain for the presidency.
We were right to nominate a man with the foreign policy experience needed to lead the nation and the free world in times of global crisis and unrest. We were correct in handing the mantel to a man who knows too well that the use of the military is not something you do carelessly. We did not fail by supporting McCain as the man who would be in charge of the budget, the financial purse strings of our nation. We were right to pick a candidate with the true willingness and ability to reach across the aisle and do the right thing for the country, whether or not it is the right thing for his party. We were not mistaken by putting our faith in a man who would rather do the right thing, even if it meant he would lose an election. The only problem is, we were eight years too late in doing so.
Republicans had the opportunity to nominate McCain in 2000, but instead we picked George W. Bush. There is no doubt in my mind that had McCain been the nominee of the GOP in 2000 and had he defeated Al Gore in the general election, that this country would not be as bitterly partisan and divided as it is today. The tone of American politics would not be as nasty and the health of our electoral process would not be in as much doubt as it is today. Our nation would not be in an economic crisis of this magnitude. Foreign countries would still respect us. We would never have been mired in a quagmire in Iraq. We may still have gone, but we would not have waited so incredibly long to alter a failing strategy. We would have captured or killed Bin Laden and taken the steps necessary to dismantle Al Qaeda. We would not have seen such a drastic attack on the civil liberties of American citizens in the wake of 9/11nor be faced with the security theater we are subjected to at the airport or the constant nagging feeling that the government is listening to and reading everything we say or write.
Republicans failed in 2000. We nominated a man who has spent the last eight years doing serious damage to the country's economic and diplomatic health. The party has allowed the evangelicals to take over and toss aside the values that made the Republican Party so strong. Conservative principles of economic freedom, sound money policy, small government, low taxes, less government, balanced budgets, prudent and effective use of diplomacy and military operations. The Republican Party has become too corrupt, too fixated on keeping its power to actually do what is right for the country. And because of this, the Republican Party is dying a slow and painful death right in front of our eyes.
McCain is not absolved from part of the blame here either. He is 72 years old and we needed to nominate someone whom the voters could feel comfortable with as president if he were to no longer be able to function in office. Instead, in an effort to pander to the female vote and the religious right, he picked a vice presidential candidate with little experience and baffling views on the role of government in the lives of its citizens, the role of religion in education and the role of mankind in the global climate situation. There is something seriously wrong when the evangelicals are excited by a candidate that to everyone else has become a punch line.
In a way I feel sorry for McCain. He's eight years older now and not as sharp as he was back in 2000. But he mystified me many times over that time by taking a back seat and keeping his mouth shut while Bush ran this country into the ground. He spoke out on a number of occasions, but still had to work with both sides in order to get anything done. That in itself means McCain has been negatively effected by the shift to the right and is not the same man he was eight years ago. This country would have been much better off if the Republicans had made the right choice in 2000. Now they are left with the right guy at the wrong time.
I am afraid it may just take the loss of this election for the Republicans to wake up and begin to return to the principles that drove people like me to the party in the first place. It will take a long time for the Republican Party to heal. It won't happen over night and it won't happen at all unless the party comes back toward the mainstream of American political thought. It cannot sustain itself from the corner it has stuffed itself into with the religious right. It needs to open the tent and grow or else it is going wilt and die and be replaced by a new political movement that is more libertarian/conservative.
As voters drift further and further away from associating themselves with either party, the rise of a centrist or libertarian party could be on its way. So as this brutal campaign of 2008 enters its final chapter and the Republicans start to splinter and point their crooked fingers of blame at everyone but themselves, I think back to February of 2000, when I cast my vote proudly for John S. McCain in the Republican Presidential primaries and lament at the opportunity missed for the party and for the United States of America.
It may seem like the rats are jumping off a sinking ship, but this has been coming for me for a long time. It has just become the right time to admit it. Unfortunately I cannot sit back any longer and support a party that has left me behind. As much as I admire and respect John McCain and believe he should have been president already, I do not believe he is the right man to lead this nation out of the current crisis. I disagree with Barack Obama a whole lot, most notably his insistence on putting a time table on victory in Iraq and his class warfare tax policy. However I believe he has a better grasp of the economic crisis and what it will take to recover and heal our economy. I believe he will put a screaming halt to the systematic assaults on our civil liberty and he will be much more effective at working toward a balanced budget. He also will get the opportunity to nominate at least one Supreme Court justice, and I have been extremely disappointed with the last several Republican nominees for the highest court.
I want it to be clear that I am not voting against John McCain, I am voting against those who have hijacked the Republican Party, to whom McCain has had to pander. I have to believe defeat is the best thing possible for the Republican Party moving forward. It is for these reasons that I am endorsing Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.
Jason A. Burkins
I see lawn signs in support of the repeal of the state income tax popping up everywhere, even in Amherst.
Jack Frost was busy last night, painting every blade of grass in my neighbor's field a delicate white. It still hits fifty during the day, but the nights are turning frigid.
I believe that the good guys win in the end.