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Jan. 16 2010 - 4:18 pm | 424 views | 1 recommendation | 11 comments

A good Republican is hard to find

BOSTON - JANUARY 11: Republican State Sen. Sco...

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I feel compelled to address both Sullivan’s response to my post on Scott Brown from yesterday and to my friend Jack’s excellent comment as well* both of which have caused me to think deeper on the Massachusetts election this coming Tuesday.

First of all, let me explain where I was coming from, and where I am still – to some degree – coming from today.

Three things motivated much of my writing yesterday:

First, I am upset with the direction health reform has gone in the past few days.  I think the union deal was shameless and wrong-headed and a sell-out of ordinary working class people.  Further entrenchment of out-dated unions is bad for America and for the economy, and it does nothing to improve healthcare for most Americans whatsoever, let alone rein in systemic costs.  This has had me feeling not only dubious about my own support of the bill, but somewhat angry about the whole thing.  I’ve defended the various compromises made thus far, but this one seemed to go beyond the acceptable level of decency.

Second, a good Republican is hard to find, to paraphrase a favorite author of mine.  When somebody comes along that seems quite a lot more honest and less prone to all the silly tantrums and talk-radio ass-kissing than many of the high profile conservatives out there these days, I feel a little jubilant.  Scott Brown – whatever his flaws – still strikes me as this sort of candidate.  He’s no Jeff Flake, of course, but he’s still a far cry better than many of his colleagues on the right.

And third, Martha Coakley scares me.  The entitlement and arrogance she displays is mildly appalling.  It goes beyond amusement – I find her, as Jack said in the comments, a little more than creepy.  She’s awful, and she doesn’t deserve to win.  The Democrats certainly don’t deserve to win after picking such a terrible candidate.  Couple this with my feelings of resentment toward the way health reform has been going, and my reception of Scott Brown, and you begin to see why I found Andrew’s dismissal of him so unfair.  That being said, calling Sullivan “reflexively anti-Republican” was also unfair.  It was a reactionary sort of thing to say on my part – reflexive one might say.  I admire Andrew’s honesty even when we disagree, and dismissing anyone as “reflexively anti-……” does them a disservice.

One other important point.  If moderates like Brown are defeated at the polls now it only lends ammuniation to the “purists” in the GOP to continue their witch-hunts, further ostracizing independents and so-called RINO’s and casting them from the ranks of the pure-blooded.  A Brown victory, on the contrary, could conceivably change the course of the Republican party.  Maybe not.  If Andrew’s analysis of Brown is correct, than perhaps I’m simply placing too much hope in the wrong man.

I suppose in the end it comes down to values more than anything else.  Thirty million people stand to gain affordable health coverage if this legislation passes.  I wish we could achieve that some other way.  I wish there were the political will to actually erect a more free-market system that still achieved universal coverage – without all the handouts to special interests.  But I don’t think that will exists or that the system even exists, and while a part of me cries out that we must stick to our ideological parapets and resist the growth of big government at all costs, another part knows that without healthcare reform millions more Americans will simply have to go without coverage – will face denial after denial from private insurers and the specter of bankruptcy.  The problems with our system as a whole will go on unabated.

I can’t have it both ways, of course.  I want Brown to win and I want health reform to pass, but the two may as well be mutually exclusive.  If politics is anything it is the process of discerning the least of two countless evils.  If this were any other issue I would not feel so dismayed at the choice. But it isn’t – and if Coakley loses, health reform might lose as well.  At least I don’t have to go to the polls myself and make that decision.

P.S. – If I was not clear enough – I think if I were to walk down to the ballot box I’d vote for…sigh…Coakley.  For health reform, really, not for Coakley.  But she’s the road I’d have to travel to get there.

(*I call Jack’s comment ‘excellent’ despite the fact that he called me naive.  More than likely that is a fair assessment.)


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  1. collapse expand

    Erik:

    Well, since I called you naive, it’s only fair that you call me an old grouch.

    At least I don’t have to go to the polls myself and make that decision.

    I do. I’m not complaining: I’d vote for Coakley in any event because what I said in the earlier comment about the system and systems within systems applies across the entire range of national public policy issues.

    But the thing is, that applies to you and your ostensive vote for Brown, too. If he wins, he’s not going to be the personality you find so appealing. He’s going to get plugged in as a cog in Mitch McConnell’s filibuster machine which is now a systemic phenomenon.

    Do you think rsmaccain is giddily posting from my county because Brown is a the kind of “good” Republcan you find so appealing?

    The problems with our system as a whole will go on unabated.

    No. They won’t. They’ll grow worse exponentially. The system is irrational and inefficent and unsustainable.

  2. collapse expand

    Erik- what a mess, eh?

    Wouldn’t you think that the Dems. would have been clever enough to rework the excise tax so that it was not such an obvious pay off to the unions while leaving others hanging? At the end of the day, we are stuck with the knowledge that the people we choose to run the nation are simply mediocre, fairly untalented people with no ability to handle anything in a subtle, more creative way.

    I have to admit that I have some concerns about Scott Brown that mirror Sullivan. However, I suspect your portrait of Coakley is pretty much on the nose. Once again, a key element of American social policy is in the hands of people who would barely make it to middle management. Such a shame.

  3. collapse expand

    Rather than proposing a tax on health care plans to help fund health care reform to begin with, a 10% tax increase on the people in the highest bracket is the proposal that should have been advanced. I was an enthusiastic supporter of Ronald Reagan when he ran for President back in 1980 on his platform of cutting taxes and bulding up the military, and this was at a time when we really needed it.
    Taxes for individuals in the top brackets back then were about 50%, and I believe highest rate was around 70%. I always felt, even though I was not then, and am not now, anywhere near the highest tax bracket, that a federal tax rate that takes more than 50% of a person’s income, was too much. But the super-rich in this country have had it way too good for nearly thirty years now. It is time they begin paying their fare share. Even Warren Buffet thinks they shold pay more.

    Now giving those covered by collective bargaining agreements a temporary reprieve from the oppossive tax on the so called “Cadillac” plans may seem like pandering to unions to some (see Robert Reich’s recent on this as a rebuke to those who believe this), but I assert that this a tax that should never have been advanced in the first place.

    In your article you stated that the “union deal was shameless and wrong-headed and a sell-out of ordinary working class people. Further entrenchment of out-dated unions is bad for America and for the enconomy.” To this I say that unions have done more for ordinary working people by far than any Republican ever dreamed of. Even ordinary working class people not fortunate enough to be part of a union benefit from elevated, but certainly not excessive, wages because of the threat that the companies they work for might be unionized. Unions have not always been good at getting this message out, but the fact remains that unions “made the middle class” in this country.

    I do agree with the title of your article that “A good Republican is hard to find.” The best place to look for one is on Main Street. Too bad so many of them can only be found on Wall Street advancing the interests of the money-laundering bank cartels.

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