Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On the cognitive dissonance of being a thinking Republican

I know that a lot of people in this country are scared about the economy and that, when they haven't looked closely at who is doing what in Washington, that can dampen support for Democrats and President Obama.

But we have to remember that there are some Republicans who are watching what's going on with their party and not liking it one bit. Of course those who are in office or hope to run for office some day don't have the courage to express this. All they see is what happened to folks like Sen. Lugar and they know they'd better keep their mouths shut.

There are, of course, those like Sen. Lugar as well as Bob Bennett and Chuck Hagel who, after leaving office, have spoken out.

And there are others who have never held elective office but are seeing danger signs. Today I ran across an article by another one of them, Michael Stafford, who has been a Republican Party officer in Maryland.
I’m a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsically into the very fabric of my being...

Today, however, I am a registered Republican no longer.

I came to the decision to leave the GOP not with a heavy heart, but with a broken one.

I reached this point through a long series of awakenings and realizations- a path marked by literally years of wrestling with, and finally accepting, the political implications of a number of difficult truths. It involved ever-increasing levels of cognitive dissonance, as I tried to square my experiences, concerns, and knowledge, with my continued loyalty to the GOP.

As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies.

In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.

Republican economic policies are also indefensible. The GOP constantly claims that its opponents are engaged in “class warfare,” but this is an exercise in projection. In Republican proposals, the wealthy win, and the rest of us lose- one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget to see that...

Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity. Leaving is also a public act of personal protest. I am under no illusions about its broader significance- it will have no impact on the trajectory of the political narrative in this nation. But that does not make it futile. On the contrary, as the shadows lengthen, such minor individual acts of defiance and dissent are more critical now than ever before.

Perhaps, one day, a reformed and responsible Republican Party will reemerge.
I can identify with Mr. Stafford's journey of reconciling cognitive dissonance. Its a difficult one to take and requires tremendous courage.

Mr. Stafford doesn't say who he plans to vote for in the upcoming election.  As much as I'd like to see him become "one of us," I know that kind of journey can take some time. And so for now, I'll simply join him in hoping that one day "a reformed and responsible Republican Party will reemerge."


  1. When I think back on the Republican Party as I knew it, and compare it to what it is today, I'm dismayed as a Democrat. It's hard to have an argument over the best way to fix a problem when one side refuses to admit a problem exists. I'm seeing that across the board with today's "conservatives." Climate change exists, income inequities exist, the banking industry is seriously in danger of collapsing economies, and so on. Yet, if you ask conservatives about those, none of them exist or are "problems."

  2. My observations of the repugs go back to Harry Truman/Tom Dewey! I even broadly admired Percy & Rockefeller & Eisenhower! But year after year Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes, McCain et al just kept making it clearer and clearer that there are no bounds to which they will not sink. What they are doing now is a word of which noone will speak....Sedition!

    They are systematically damaging this nation for their own power and greed. We have been entirely too quiet! It is our silence and our whispers that is making their success.

    Until we get on call-in shows, tweet all day, email, FB etc. they will continue their damage just as termites are wont to do.
    If it is to be, it is up to me!

  3. The current flock is a "bizzaro robinhood republicans". They all talk that trickle down economics is good but what all they show is trickle down dis-honesty. They want to distribute all the wealth upwards with a hope that the wealthy would always be wealthy so that they can control the unwealthy. I dont understand only one thing-how come more than 50% of the unwealthy americans fall for this. Whatever is the reason-it is working!!!!!!!

  4. I was a republican when I first registered to vote under Gerald R. Ford. Every one after him was worse. I miss Jerry.

  5. Abraham Lincoln would never win a Republican nomination for any office today. Neither would Eisenhower. Bob Dole would have a fight on his hands. And that's not even mentioning Mitt's dad.

  6. Good riddance! YOU and and the other vermin RINOs that have infested the Republican party for the last three decades are the problem. We will drive you from office. We will force you to join the Democrat party officially and stop pretending to be something other than a god damn tree hugging socialist weasel.

    1. why do you hate trees?

    2. why do you hate trees?

    3. why do you hate trees?

  7. This thinking is the best for brain development. One must adopt several changes in life and think about this theory!