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Left behind by the party

Dear Editors,

All this bloviating about the future of the Republican Party and how it should reinvent itself reminds me of a family finally acknowledging that an aged relative has crossed the bar into dottiness: What should we do with the Grand Old Party?

I was a Republican for 28 years. Like so many others who now vote Democratic, I didn’t leave the party – it left me. Based on the analyses of this month’s election, it also left college graduates, suburbanites and Hispanics in the Red State dust. The sad fact is that a map of the few counties that voted more Republican than they did in 2004 neatly overlays maps showing the nation’s highest rates of obesity, poverty and lack of education – call it the Deliverance Belt – a sad state of affairs for the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.

As much as the Republican Party needs reform, it won’t happen. The far right chorus still bellows “We Shall Not Be Moved,” with solos by the three tenors of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

The United States needs two healthy parties advancing ideas and solving common problems. If the Republican Party is beyond redemption, what should we do?

The answer comes from history. The Republicans came into being because the Whig Party split over slavery, a contentious fight they could not resolve. Progressive people, among them Abraham Lincoln, saw no point arguing with the recalcitrants, left them to bicker among themselves, and formed a new party.  Honest Abe ran on the Republican ticket, and the rest was history.

Now, today’s Republican Party is history.

The times call for a new political party, one that looks forward and appeals to a new majority of Americans, one that finds itself between the Democrats and the Republicans.  The best place to launch this party – let’s call it the Progressive Party – is right here in Colorado.

We’ve always been betwixt and between the parties. Ken Salazar is a perfect example of this. The one Democrat who won an open Senate seat in 2004, he charted a path that was neither Democratic fish nor Republican fowl.

Colorado has several political figures who would fit well in a Progressive Party:  Scott McInnis, Tom Norton, John Buechner, Don Ament, Bill Kaufman, Hank Brown, Bob Greenlee, Nancy Spence, Norma Anderson, Dottie Wham, Paul Schauer and Pat Hayes to name just a few. None of this distinguished group can be accused of foaming at the mouth over guns, gays and God

while more serious problems face our country and the world. They are fiscal conservatives who understand4 where we need government and where we don’t. They are reasonable people who could attract the support of reasonable voters.  

But aren’t third parties the province of Ralph Nader and other cranks? Don’t candidates need the machinery of a party to succeed? The Internet has changed politics forever.  Howard Dean demonstrated the fund-raising potential of the Web, and Barack Obama perfected it as a means of communicating directly with voters, mobilizing their support and convincing them to underwrite his campaign.  

Launching a new party nationwide would be difficult. Getting it off the ground in Colorado first makes much more sense. Once elected, Progressive Party state representatives and senators could caucus with the Democrats or form their own group of affiliates. As voters see an appealing third path, more of them will be inclined to take it, to the betterment of the state and, eventually, the country.

Launching a new party is not some sort of political science fiction, but trying to reform the current Republican Party is. As science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once said, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

– Jim Martin, via e-mail


… Written at 2 a.m. Nov. 5 after Barack Obama was confirmed as our new president

I hate cynicism It’s small and judgmental and lives in a narrow box On the contrary, I am, tonight, a first snow night, inspired.

Yesterday was a day of watching the opposite of cynicism and finding myself expanded and grateful.

Spending the day at the polls, observing humanity parade by. Some aware of the privilege they enjoy living in a democracy. Others not quite sure, treading softly, like on new snow, feeling their way.

At the end of my polling obligations I drove a young Native woman home from her journey to cast a vote.

We talked about her diagnosis, her adjustments to living with cancer. And my heart cracked open at her conviction, in spite of her weariness, to let her voice be heard.

And finally watching the election results with friends, ready to celebrate a victory for each of us and our nation. Any trace of the cynicism that eight years of missteps had wound around my heart melted as I listened and watched Barak Obama speak to the world.

For I saw a man who had transcended the difficulties life had presented him – Raised by a single mother, her skin white to his black, who died much too early, The lack of a father’s presence And a country divided and unable to see it’s way out of the snare of cynicism and greed.

He had a vision. And so he stepped up to lead us. He had a vision that carried hope and wisdom; courage and commitment. One that included all the people, united in their passion for the possibility the future could hold for us and the children of tomorrow.

The opposite of cynicism. “Yes, we can.” Which must be preceded by “Yes, I can.”  That midwife of your dreams. Confidently holding a vast space of possibility. Given nourishment, it blossoms and connects with similar hopes and courage and becomes “Yes, we can.”

And so I’m grateful to be alive at this moment and a part of the interconnected web of smiling, tearful faces, all linked by a dream, too long asleep Now once again awakened.

Has “Yes, I can” visited you in the night? What dreams are calling to be born in your waking life?

Resist the thorny branches of cynicism and No.

  Call a prayer of gratitude to the Source of your inspiration, and kiss awake the dream.

– Victoria Fitts-Milgrim, Durango

 To the editors,

On 11/8/2008, Prof. Robert Shiller wrote the following.
“The financial crisis that afflicts the country is largely a result of speculative bubbles, built on false hopes, in the housing and stock markets.”

On 11/15/2008, Pres. George Bush said the following.
"Those of you who have followed my career know that I'm a free-market person," he said. "Until you're told that if you don't take decisive measures, then it's conceivable that our country could go into a depression greater than the Great Depression."

On 11/14/2008, Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson spoke as follows.
"We have in many ways humiliated ourselves as a nation with some of the problems that have taken place here," Paulson said in an interview with CNBC television.

See bubbles here, first and last charts:
“Real Dow & Real Homes & Personal Saving & Debt Burden”


 - Ed Hamilton