Showing posts with label Independents. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Independents. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Hampshire's turn for an Independent?

Looking to both the East and West of the Granite State, there have been a series of successful state-wide Independent candidates. As far back as 1975, Mainers elected their first Independent Governor, James B. Longley. Longley, a center-left Democrat on social issues, left the Democratic Party over fiscal issues. Running as a fiscally-conservative and socially progressive Independent, he struck a chord with more Mainers than either the Republicans or Democrats, and left as his mark a reorganization of the University system. From 1995 to 2003, Mainers again elected an Independent, Angus King, with an eclectic philosophical record but who was perceived as very strong on educational issues, a recurrent issue in Maine politics.

To the West, Vermont sent Jim Jeffords to the U. S. Senate as a Republican three times. But in 2001, Jeffords switched to Independent, and the catalyst was Republican opposition to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Jeffords would strongly represent a civil libertarian position, opposing the ban on gays in the military and the FCC Decency Act (which would eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court), and opposing background checks at gun shows, the flag desecration amendment, and the use of military force in Iraq. On Economic issues, he supported the Balanced Budget Amendment and Free Trade agreements.

To the south of New Hampshire, Independent candidates are polling ahead of Democrats and Republicans in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Ex-Democrat Tim Cahill is running strongly in Massachusetts, with - surprise, surprise - a socially moderate and fiscally conservative approach. In Rhode Island, ex-Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who was targeted by the conservative wing of the GOP, is positioned as a pragmatic independent who is not as 'mean' as the shrill Republican base, but more fiscally responsible than the chaotic Democratic-lead statehouse. And of course in Connecticut, Independent Joe Lieberman felt ostracized by liberal Democrats, and has almost single-handedly prevented a new socialized health program from leaving the Senate.

One must ask: what traits do all of these Independent victories have in common?

First, Fiscal irresponsibility among Democrats.
Second, capture of the Republican Party by an extreme and shrill right wing.
Third, voter rejection of both (1) and (2) above, and falling party identification.
Fourth, Independent candidates who support fiscal responsibility; social tolerance and civil liberties; and who have strong pro-Education platforms.

Which brings us to New Hampshire, and the 2010 Gubernatorial election.

Governor John Lynch's record of fee & tax increases, free-wheeling spending, and fiscal incompetence will go down in history as legendary. Not in recent history has this state seen such deceitful budgeting, nor so many tax and fee increases. Combined with the national Obama juggernaut of staggering deficits and spending, a growing number of Americans from "the middle" - where elections are won - are pushing back against the Democrats irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party will not necessarily benefit from this anger. The Bush years convinced an entire generation of Americans that Republicans, too, stand for big government and big spending. Worse, the histrionics of right-wing media idols like Glenn Beck have painted the GOP as a party of the lunatic fringe.

NH GOP contender Karen Testerman represents the fringe that the public rejects: a co-founder of the Christianist "Cornerstone Policy Research," in 2003 she compared gays and lesbians to "shoplifters and drug addicts," and told the Nashua Telegraph that she would have to "prayerfully assess" her role in the Republican primary. In the second least 'evangelical' state in the union (Vermont being first), Testerman represents everything that most independents and moderate - and many former Republican voters fear most: a religious fringe candidate who will see the Office of Education and the Office of Health and Human Services as a personal crusade to impose theological opinion.

With the Democrats in disarray over the financial meltdown for which they and they alone are responsible, and the Republicans insisting on pandering to a shrill far-right base, New Hampshire and its swelling ranks of Independent voters may well be poised to elect an Independent who represents fiscal sanity, social tolerance, and a strong commitment to both Jobs and Education.

Now...who's stepping up to the plate?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Letter to the New Hampshire GOP re: Gay Marriage.

My name is Thom Simmons, and I urgently want to address the imminent vote on gay marriage.

I am 49 years old and a lifelong Republican. I was raised in an ardently Republican household, and have served on multiple Republican committees in a number of states, including the Advance Team for the Reagan Presidential campaign in 1980. In addition, I have always been an active church member.

And yet, in spite of all that, I am one of those who have almost given up on our party as I see us pandering relentlessly to an extreme and shrinking(though vocal) Theocratic base. The hopelessness I feel about our party’s direction is one of the reasons we see New Hampshire lurching from “Red” to “Blue....” and why, in Steve Schmidt's words, "the Republican Party is virtually extinct in the Northeast."

I am also a gay man, and chair of the New Hampshire Bears, the largest gay men’s organization in New Hampshire. One little-known fact about our 200+ members is that of those I have personally met, the majority were once married, heterosexually, some for many years. (Myself, I was married to my wife for almost 23 years, and we have a number of adopted children)

How could a man “turn gay?’’ How could a man live all those years and decide he was “gay” after all that time?

Well, he doesn’t.

Instead, he is barraged from the time he is a child with the message that to be gay is to be abnormal, evil, sinful, wrong, weird, disgusting, and shameful. And so, many, many of us try beyond reason to be what we are not, to fit into a box that someone else built and shoe-horned us into. And after years of exhausting fights with ourselves, we finally accept who we are.

We heard the taunts in grade school, we heard the snide remarks in the locker room, we hear our ‘friends’ tell jokes at the expense of gays, and we see TV parody us as limp-wristed feather-boa-wearing caricatures.

And now, more than ever before, we see our own government telling us, “you’re equal, but not ‘the same.’ You can have water and drink from a fountain, but you can’t drink from our fountain, because you are just Different.” The same arguments that justified segregation when I was a child are now being used to suggest that “civil unions” are somehow “good enough.”
They are not.

They send a strong message that while we will be ‘tolerated’ because it is the politically correct thing to do, we will not be accepted as fellow Americans with equal rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Please end the enforced inferiority. Gay men deal with many issues as they struggle with their sexuality, and to be set aside as “not good enough” or “not the same” by government is unacceptable. Mr. Sununu's comments about this bill being "garbage," and making snide references to San Francisco, is precisely the nasty politics that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have all rejected here in the Granite State.

As a traditional Republican, I know that it is not the job of government to impose a culture, or a theology, or a ‘blueprint for life’ on its citizens. It is the job of government to preserve liberty and establish a level playing field.

New Hampshire has always been in vanguard of freedom and liberty. Please, I beg you, take a stand that puts what is right above what may be expedient.

Thank you
Thom Simmons
11 Richmond Rd
Fitzwilliam, NH 03447