It is a sad statement on our current state of politics when an unabashed liberal like me waxes nostalgic for good ol’ Goldwater Republicans. Reading L.A. Heberlein’s guest column in today’s Seattle P-I (“What happened to real Republicans?“), I couldn’t help but feel wistful for the days when political debates were more about disagreements over method than madness. Heberlein, who worked his precinct for Barry Goldwater, appears equally wistful, wondering if the people who call themselves Republicans today… really are.
When I was a Teenage Republican, all Republicans knew the 10th Amendment by heart and Republicans resisted the increasing power of the central government. Now Republicans leap over one another to make the federal government ever more powerful. It is Republicans at the federal level who now want to tell states whether they can allow medical marijuana or assisted suicide, or even who can have a driver’s license. They want to tell the states who can get married. Imagine a Republican of my youth thinking the federal government should dictate policy to local school boards.
When I was a boy, Republicans cherished personal liberty. Creating secret no-fly lists and spy-on-your-neighbor programs, turning medical records over to police, holding people without trial in hidden military compounds, saying it’s legal to torture them — that’s how we thought only Communists would behave.
Above all, the Republicans back in those days were the party of responsibility. They understood a balance sheet. […] The ones running Washington, D.C., today inherited a $236 billion budget surplus, and like kids on crack with a credit card, turned it into a trillion-dollar deficit almost overnight.
Heberlein goes on to ridicule the Bush administration’s proposal to privatize Social Security, asking the obvious question of where the money will come from to pay for those drawing out now, and incredulously providing the answer.
Listen, you’ll never believe this. The plan is to borrow it — to borrow a trillion more dollars.
Where have all the real Republicans gone? I have some sad news for Heberlein… this GOP is no more the party of Goldwater than it is the party of Lincoln. It’s the party of Bush and DeLay.
Now don’t that make you old-timers feel proud?