As some of you know, I've transformed over the past few years from a hyper-liberal quasi-socialist to a moderate center-leftist. But at times, I still feel the tug of the left wing of my party calling me back. Since my centrist shift has been almost solely a function of national security issues (which, incidentally, are also why I'm radically opposed to the current administration), the "old" leftist stances, on social issues and (to a lesser extent) economic issues, still hold weight in my internal debates. At the same time, my disdain for party politics and my intensely pro-intervention position on foreign affairs keep me honest and moderated.
One of the more interesting thought games I've had with myself lately though is: "can a moderate Republican win my vote?" After all, presumably centrist moderate Republicans would appeal to many of my sensibilities: liberal on social issues, moderate on economic issues, and strong on national defense. I do have alot of respect for Republicans like Lincoln Chafee, John McCain, and Arlen Specter (though his recent prostration before the GOP leadership isn't helping his image in my eyes). And with my well known hatred of partisanship and blind party loyalty, it should presumably follow that I will vote for any candidate that appeals to my conscience, regardless of political affiliation. This election cycle, I was geniunely torn in the local state senate race, which pitted moderate incumbant Republican Ray Cox and seemingly moderate Democrat David Bly. I didn't decide until I was in the voting booth, but I ended up going for Bly, on the grounds that I preferred his tax policy (Cox's high rating from the National Taxpayers Union was worrisome to me) and, more importantly, that I didn't trust the Republican LEADERSHIP in the Minnesota congress.
This same logic applies nationally. I can respect individual Republican politicians, if they show some backbone. But voting for them means voting for Bill Frist and the ever-repulsive Tom DeLay, which I refuse to do. It isn't that I disagree with them more. Its that a) I can't trust the "moderates" to stand up to them or beat them in getting stuff done and b) the WAY they conduct business I find morally offensive (notably, neither of these caveates really applies to the Democratic leadership, which is far worse at silencing its moderates (or perhaps more tolerant, to be generous to them), and doesn't engage in nearly the same level of politically trickery as the GOP does (not that they have clean hands either, but their work pales in comparison)).
If you want the real reason that I probably will continue to vote straight Democratic party tickets for the near future, read this press statement by DeLay on the Bell ethics dismissal and "DeLay rule" vote. I almost didn't link to it, because I was literally shaking after I read it. I don't know if I've ever been that upset from reading a politicians remarks. I thought I couldn't underestimate DeLay's vileness, but I had. He is a LOATHESOME human being. I've discovered DeLay is my "anti-Obama." For the most part, I am jaded with politicians that I support, viewing it as a "lesser of two evils" deal. Obama was the first politician in a LONG time to actually inspire me when I listened to him. On the flip side, with politicians I oppose its gotten to the point where I'm more prone to depressed resignation than actual anger towards them. So DeLay is one of the rare politicans who can actually infuriate me on a regular basis.
Why are Republicans pushing people like me away by clinging to oppressive, virtually autocratic leaders like DeLay? Possibly its because they feel they don't need me. The current 50% + 1 philosophy of the GOP means that they not only are willing to piss off any unneeded centrists, but they actively TRY to so they can push a more radical conservative agenda while making the center and left seem irrelevant. In the long run, though, I don't think they can hold their coaltion together. It just isn't stable enough. The Republican party has no coherent ideology anymore, just blind feality to a ruling class committed to power at all costs. That scares me, but I have to believe that it isn't a tenable situation, lest I lose all faith in the democratic system. I could see myself voting for the moderate Republican philosophy, but I don't think the GOP represents it, or even listens to it, anymore. At least with the Democrats, I feel confident that my colleagues will listen to and consider what I have to say. As a disaffected moderate, that's all I can ask for.