News & Analysis
Leaving the GOP for the Wrong Reasons
Goodbye GOP ... From the moment the Tea Party emerged on the scene, I had a premonition that I would eventually have to leave the GOP. But my mind conjured innumerable reasons for delay- for putting off the day of reckoning in the desperate hope that some game-changing miracle would occur, such as a victory by Governor Jon Huntsman in the Republican presidential primary. But no miracle happened. Among all the difficult truths I've had to face, perhaps none has been harder than the realization that I, and those dissidents like me, are unrepresentative outliers far removed from, and largely unable to influence, the main currents of opinion within the GOP. Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity. Leaving is also a public act of personal protest. I am under no illusions about its broader significance- it will have no impact on the trajectory of the political narrative in this nation. But that does not make it futile. On the contrary, as the shadows lengthen, such minor individual acts of defiance and dissent are more critical now than ever before. – Michael Stafford/The Cagle Post
Dominant Social Theme: These Tea Partiers are terrible folks. Now I'll see the back of them ... and all the rest.
Free-Market Analysis: Michael Stafford has decided to leave the GOP, and his article has attracted attention by no less than David Frum of the Daily Beast who chronicled Stafford's leave-taking by quoting a good bit of Stafford's article and posting it at the Beast.
Frum didn't add much to the fairly elongated quote he posted but from the Cagle Post (where many of Stafford's articles seem to end up) we learn something about Stafford himself. His brief bio reads as follows:
Michael Stafford is a 2003 graduate of Duke University School of Law and a former Republican Party officer. He works as an attorney in Wilmington, Delaware and is the author of the book "An Upward Calling" on the need for public policy and politics to advance the common good. You can follow his writing on Facebook.
There are some elements of this bio that caught our attention, not least Stafford's affiliation with Duke University, which is surely the modern heart of academic darkness – an enterprise, from our point of view, with a Fabian-esque propensity for presenting its apparent biases as middle-of-the-road and even harmless.
Stafford's article certainly presents him as an amiable and reasonable sort who has been driven to distraction by political ideologues such as those that can be found in the quasi-libertarian/conservative Tea Party movement. Here's a bit more from his article:
I'm a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsically into the very fabric of my being. When I was young, Ronald Reagan bestrode the world like a colossus. I grew up watching the Cold War end-game play out as Reagan faced down the Soviet Union- which really was evil- and helped break the long night of communist repression in Eastern Europe. He was my hero ...
Today, however, I am a registered Republican no longer. I came to the decision to leave the GOP not with a heavy heart, but with a broken one ... As a local GOP official after President Obama's election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies.
In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change – a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world – is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.
Republican economic policies are also indefensible. The GOP constantly claims that its opponents are engaged in "class warfare," but this is an exercise in projection. In Republican proposals, the wealthy win, and the rest of us lose- one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan's budget to see that ...
In the end, it offers a dystopian vision of our future- a harsher, crueler and more merciless America starkly divided between the riders, and the ridden ... Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity. Leaving is also a public act of personal protest.
Leaving aside Stafford's stated affection for Ronald Reagan (who surely would not agree with certain GOP positions these days), there is a lot here to raise eyebrows for anyone following the ins and outs of American politics. One immediate issue that occurs is why Stafford insists global warming is an established fact.
Of course, Stafford's screed was posted on June 12, but even since then several prominent global warmists have come out AGAINST the current applicable wisdom. The United Nation's Rio 2012 (warmist) conference has virtually collapsed, issuing a final communiqué that is notable only for its lack of enthusiasm as regards enforcement of "carbon pollution."
Stafford also doesn't distinguish between the current (controlled) Tea Party and the larger, inchoate one that still espouses the republican exceptionalism that made the US unlike any other country in the world for nearly a century-and a-half.
If Stafford had indicated an affection for a classical liberal – libertarian – position his disaffection with the GOP would be more understandable. If he'd espoused some of the positions of GOP conservative-libertarian candidate Ron Paul his apostasy would seem a good deal more legitimate.
But in his stated reasons for leaving the GOP he mentions neither the nation's incessant warring nor its support for the Federal Reserve's ruinous money-printing, two of the issues that the initial Tea Party took strong stands against.
Instead, he conflates the current, GOP-controlled Tea Party with the previous movement that has now gone largely underground – thus furthering the confusion about what the Tea Party movement really stands for.
Additionally, by choosing to focus on global warming instead of US militarism and the insanity of its out-of-control currency inflation his reasons for leaving are made even more controversial, from our humble point of view.
Either Stafford doesn't understand what happened to the initial Tea Party movement or (it seems to us) he is being willfully confusing. And by choosing to reaffirm global warming as a major source of his disaffection with the GOP he is evidently arguing that indeed the US – and the larger West – ought to be governed by UN treaties that mandate "carbon capture."
At the expense of literally trillions of dollars, those who run the embattled enclaves of global warming orthodoxy are insisting that carbon – one of two life-giving gases – ought to be removed from the atmosphere and "captured" below-ground. A more ludicrous and useless exercise can hardly be imagined, even if global warming existed, which it may not, and was the result of human influences, also quite controversial.
Mr. Stafford is not worried. apparently, that the US and the West are spiraling into an ever greater recession (depression?) thanks to misguided central banking policies and monopoly money-printing. Neither is he apparently concerned about the many wars that the US and its allies are fighting at the cost of endless amounts of blood and treasure.
Mr. Stafford could have come across as a principled individual in explaining why he left the GOP that he professes to have loved. But the reasons he chose for leaving seem to us uncompelling and even lamentable.
Conclusion: America's sociopolitical narrative has wandered into the wrong channels and like a powerful river improperly diverted, there seems little chance it will return to its more fertile course. Mr. Stafford's meandering rationale is just one more evidence of that.