I've written before about the sea change that has taken place in the Republican Party.
For generations, the GOP was known as the party of sound business practices; now it has been co-opted by a radical right wing fundamentalist religious element.
I know a man, a very good man, who is a dedicated and lifelong Republican. He has always thought of himself as a staunch Conservative. Although he enjoyed the benefits of a "silver spoon" upbringing, he is nevertheless a self-made and very successful businessman.
This man I know would have been considered to be, for generations, the very ideal--the epitome--of a conservative. A genuine, dedicated "Chamber of Commerce"
Republican who also practiced a generous, mainstream form of religion.
Now this man's world is turned upside down. His beloved Republican Party is presently driven by wild-eyed religious zealots and bears no resemblance to his businessman's C of C party of the good old days.
What can this man do? Many of those who now control his party would not even consider him to be a "conservative," since some elements of mild moderation might enter his mind from time to time and any semblance of moderate thought is now strictly forbidden.
This good man--a fine American--if he is to continue his party affiliation, must now acknowledge that he is a supporter of the radical right. He must take stances on social issues that are totally foreign to his nature. He must make his bed with such zealots as Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and others with whom he has essentially zero empathy.
The onrushing power of the fundamentalist religious right has forced all GOP hopefuls to take on the cloak of religious zealotry, even though most, deep down, likely don't really embrace such extreme actions. Addressing the ongoing problems of wars, the sagging economy, health costs--these and other important issues take a back seat to incessant mouthing of pious platitudes.
Every potential candidate must now feverishly adopt a "holier than thou" posture. And we know that a politician will say or do anything necessary in order to be elected. We must never forget that all politicians are liars by nature.
So, back to my good man--what's the answer for him? Switching to the Democrat side is not an option for his conservative (using the word in its former meaning) nature, yet his beloved Republican Party, where sound but moderate ideas were formulated, no longer exists.
My guess is that he will hold his nose against the stench and vote for whomever the Republicans nominate.
But he won't be happy about it.
Resident of Rush County; native of Decatur County
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The above letter was written when several candidates were vying for the Republican presidential nomination, before Mitt Romney seemingly became the sole survivor of the campaign. The
writer's opinions, however, still apply to all political races at all levels.)