So it has come to this.
I am somewhat of a textbook Democrat. I believe that individual liberty is a virtue and that
Government oversight of private industry is necessary. I strive at all times to be compassionate, inclusive, and informed. Unfortunately, I don’t normally see these traits in the Republican party. While an entire party cannot be without its flaws, whenever I hear or see heinous accounts of fear-mongering, race-baiting, and conspiracy-peddling, 99% of the time it’s coming from one side of the aisle. Maybe once upon a time the Grand Ole Party really was grand. I mean, it was the party of Theodore Roosevelt, a man I admire intensely. Maybe once upon a time it stood for limited government in the name of individual liberty, with an ultimate aim for the most clever, innovative, and hard-working among us to reap the most benefits.
But this is no more. The Republican Party has moved far from center, center-right, or plain ol’ right. Many conservatives are now deemed the “alt-right.” This group makes the Tea Party movement look reasonable and friendly. I can’t figure out their goals—it may seem like they simply want good jobs and economic security. But the alt-right exists in the upper echelons of wealth as well as the lower. What does the perfect world look like to Rush Limbaugh? How would he even make any money without people to complain about? I no longer understand what the Republican Party even wants anymore. But they seem perfectly content to complain, blame, stall, block, overturn.
“Yellow dog Democrat” is a term that originated in the late 19th century. It was a political term that applied to voters who would vote for a “yellow dog” before he or she voted for a Republican. Up until recently, this was me. But the state of the GOP is so disheartening that when I spot a Republican who isn’t foaming at the mouth with baffling rage, I am an instant devotee. When reasonable Republicans seems so few and far between, when one presents him or herself I would abandon the reliable Democratic Party to vote Republican on a dime. “On a dime Democrat” has a nice ring to it.
One great example is the current Washington state senatorial race between Patty Murray and Chris Vance. As the Democratic female incumbent (I am now wary of those running with no experience), I am already partial to Murray. However, the Tacoma News Tribune ran an article with an infographic comparing the two.
Vance was born in Seattle and has lived in Washington his entire life. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in political science and served on the State House of Representatives for two years in the early 90s. He was on the King County Council for seven years and left to become the Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party from 2001 to 2006. He is also a part-time professor at UW’s Evans School of Public Policy
The Tribune reported that Vance hopes “his message of fiscal discipline and social moderation would resonate with state voters long turned off by the Republican Party.” This foresight alone shows the clarity of his perspective and what some Washingtonians, particularly me, are desperately craving right now: moderation. Along with my newly beloved Nebraskan Senator Ben Sasse, Vance finds Trump… dare I say it… deplorable. For a Congress with an approval rating of 20 percent (according to a Gallup poll taken last month), the ever-divisive Trump will only further exacerbate Gridlock, as Democrats will likely join the “do nothings” as they push back against all that he represents.
Vance acknowledges that climate change exists (I am sad that this is impressive for a Republican) and vowed not to actively work to overturn abortion, marijuana, and same-sex marriage laws. While I would not fault him if he did not openly support these measures (one cannot ask too much) it is a breath of fresh air to hear a Republican intent on making progress instead of expounding the virtues of regress.
Part of me feels bad. Why, after years of working diligently in the Senate, would I abandon Patty Murray through no fault of her own? Unfortunately, it’s a numbers game at this point. Democrats are not as internally divided as Republicans. There is no “alt-left” threatening to grind Congress to a screaming halt. With the Democratic platform firmly planted, it is a more pressing issue to stock the Senate and the House with as many reasonable Republicans as possible, even if Democrats get hung out to dry as a consequence. As economists already know, scarcity drives demand.
And so it has come to this.