Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care, Party Purity....and the legacy of Dede Scozzafava

Well, it was only a few months ago that far-right purists within the Republican Party set their sites on Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in the special election for New Yorks 23rd Congressional District. Since Dede didn't toe the line on every issue, they decided to make an example of her, and threw their support to the Conservative Party candidate. Eventually, Dede, a multiple-term Assemblyman and the choice of GOP leaders in 13 counties, withdrew from the race. In the end, the Democrat won. Far-right Republicans, originally giddy at having pulled the rug out from under her, mumbled something about her loss not really mattering much, and went on their merry way to find the next witch hunt du jour.

As we now sit a mere handful of hours away from the vote on Obama's Health Care Reform Bill, I wonder how many of these party purists are counting votes and wondering how the outcome might be different if they hadnt purged Dede from the party.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Just call me a Blue Dog....

My post last week entitled "What is the Cheshire GOP Thinking?!," criticizing the invitation of Rick Santorum as a Lincoln Day Dinner speaker, was published as an online letter in the Keene Sentinel. Of the immediate responses, this one from someone calling themself "notta" was the most intriguing:

"I sincerely hope that Thom Simmons will NOT be running as a Republican.
I'll do everything I can to alert his voters as to who he is and what he stands for.
Thom should be running as a fiscal conservative Democrat--not a socally liberal Republican.

And Olympia Snowe is NOT a successful Republican. She's a disgrace to what we stand for. "

And there you have it. The voice of Republican Activism in New Hampshire.

Anti-Marriage Equality Town Meeting crusades (failing, thankfully, all around the state). Support for extremist, unsuccessful party spokesmen like Santorum coupled with disdain for traditional Yankee Moderates like Snowe. The extreme, the shrill, the hateful, the ignorant, the phobic, the mean-spirited, all in one ugly tangled bunch of worms. Well, it's time to cut the Gordian Knot, methinks.

Let me make clear that I am not afraid of the response I received. I never counted on the support of social conservatives in the first place. And secondly, the support of social conservatives, while possibly controlling in a Primary in a shrinking Republican Party, is insignificant at best and counter-productive at worst in a general election in Cheshire County.

And so, the time is come.

Yes, I am running for State Representative in Cheshire-4 (Chesterfield, Hinsdale, and Winchester) in 2010.

And yes, I am running as a Democrat.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Man Without a Party....

I believe in "Liberty, and Justice, for All." YOU decide to what Political Party I truly belong...

That Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia have no rightful place in American Society. That who I marry is my business, and no one elses; and the only state role should be that of a 'recorder,' not a definer, of legal relationships.

That the United States must never, ever, under any circumstances, torture suspected terrorists or engage in the same tactics that they do.

That immigration has been a source of constant strenth, genius, and rejuvenation of the American Ideal, and that English is no more sacrosanct than any other language.

That no one should be prosecuted or jailed for a "crime" where there is no victim. That marijuana should not just be decriminalised, but legalized.

That America is held captive to the taboos of a Puritanical past. Public breast Feeding, nude sunbathing, consensual sexual activity between adults, and polyamorous and homosexual relationships are just as valid as any other consentual human expression of love, life and caring, and should not be criminalized or stigmatized.

That if I choose to smoke cigarettes, gamble on a sports event, wear a helmet when I ride my bike or wear seatbelts when I drive, it is MY business, and no one elses.

That I have a right to bear firearms and defend myself, my property, and others without anyone's permission.

That my right to Free Speech, Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Right Against self-incrimination, and Freedom of Religion are INVIOLABLE. That there *is* an implied Right to Privacy in the US Constitution, and that ALL federal rights must be guaranteed by the States as well.

That we are a Federal Republic, not a Democracy. That the Federal Government must not usurp the rights reserved to the States, and that neither the federal nor state governments may usurp the rights reserved to individuals.

That I have a right to order my own property my own way, without neighbors deciding how high my house should be, whether my mom can live in an adjacent apartment, whether I can fix cars in my garage or whether my dumpster should be allowed to be in "public view."

That I have the right to choose the best educational format for my child, whether in public, private, or a home education setting, without second-guessing by bureaucrats and other vested interests.

That I have the right to join a union if I choose, or to negotiate my own compensation if I choose.

That no one has a right to tell me how to run my business, what to pay my employees, what to offer for sale, or how much to charge.

That it *is* appropriate for government to provide for a common defense, maintain roads and essential services, and to charge me for the benefits I receive.

That it *is* appropriate for society to help those in medical, housing, or other distress, with a view towards helping them achieve independence where possible and on-going assistance where necessary.

That individuals should be encouraged and assisted in the achievement of their own independence and security wherever possible.

That whether you are black, white, asian, Native American, Latino, or mixed race; Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Atheist or of another faith; hetero, homo, bi, or asexual; male, female, transgender or hermaphriditic; native-born or immigrant; employed, unemployed, retired, or disabled; English, Spanish, French, Lakhota, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Chinese, German, or Portuguese-speaking: if you are HERE and you are HUMAN, then you have a right to your life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness.

That *NO ONE* - no government official, no clergyman, no law, no insurance company, no FDA or federal agency - has a right to stand between a physician and their patient in matters of medical treatment.

That voluntary business transactions between willing individuals should not be obstructed by government. That freedom and liberty requires the free movement of capital, products, and labor across state and international borders.

That pollution of the environment that results in an act of toxic trespass against all is an appropriate subject of government regulation.

That Police Officers are the servants, not the Superiors, of the citizenry.

That the military must be subject to, and not independent of, the Civil Authorities in all matters.

That the primary goals of a criminal justice system should be restitution for the Victim and reform of the criminal, not vengeance or punishment.

That wherever possible, taxes and fees should be realistically tied to the costs that my actions are incurring, and earmarked for appropriate remedial uses.

That since businesses retain profits when successful, they must never transfer losses to the public, and that bailouts, subsidies, and corporate grants are immoral transfers of wealth.

That Government Deficit Spending likewise effectuates a transfer of wealth from citizens to wealthy bondholders who lend funds to the US Government, and is therefore opporessive, regressive, and confiscatory by design.

I love America so much that I cry when reading the The New Colossus, singing the Star Spangled Banner, or watching the US Olympian Team...but also know we have a lot of growing up to do, and yes, we can even learn from more mature nations like France, England, and Germany.

So....Am I a Republican? Democrat? Libertarian? Independent? Loonie? Plain ol' frustrated American?

Monday, March 01, 2010

What is the Cheshire GOP thinking?!?!

Today I received an email from the Cheshire County GOP, advertising their Lincoln Day Dinner on April 30, featuring, of all people.....ex-US Senator Rick Santorum.

Yes, that Santorum - the one who lost his re-election bid 59% - 41%, the largest defeat for an incumbant US Senator in over 30 years. The one who insisted that Weapons of Mass destruction had been found in Iraq. Who sponsored an amendment to require the teaching of creationism in public schools. The one who denies the existence of any 'privacy rights' in the US Constitution, even between married persons, and has criticized the Griswold vs Connecticut ruling, which invalidated a state law prohibting birth control.

All this, in Cheshire County, which is quite arguably the most socially liberal county in the state of New Hampshire. A County where Democrats lead the Republicans in the Statehouse delegation by a margin of 19-5. A County where John Kerry pulled 59% of the vote, and Barack Obama pulled 54%.

Enrollment? Here are the figures for Cheshire County as of January 8, 2008:

UNDECLARED ("Independent") 24,078 (45%)
DEMOCRAT: 16,655 (31 %)
REPUBLICAN: 13,249 (24 %)

Of the 23 Towns in Cheshire County, Independents constitute the plurality in 21 of them. (In Dublin there were 11 more Republicans than Independents; in Keene, Democrats have a plurality).

In other words, if Republicans are to win elections in Cheshire County, they will only do so by winning over the 'undeclared' or independent voters, NOT by appealing to a shrinking, shrill Republican "base." The more the GOP is seen as an extreme fringe of right-wing loonies, the quicker their relegation to the role of insignificance, at least in Cheshire.

What is the message that the Cheshire GOP is sending to these voters when Rick Santorum is the headliner at their Lincoln Day Dinner? And how different would that message be if someone like successful New England Republican Senator Olympia Snowe had been invited instead!

For those of us seeking to run for office in Cheshire County as Republicans...could a more disastrous choice for dinner speaker have been chosen?