Vail Valley Voices: GOP has lost its way |

Vail Valley Voices: GOP has lost its way

Paul Kulas
Vail, CO, Colorado

For the past four years, Republicans locally and nationally have either said or alluded that Democrats and supporters of President Obama are anti-American, socialists, supporters of Hitler, pinko communists. And that’s the best they’ve said about us.

These Republicans see a country the way they want it to be – not how it is.

I will not return serve. Doing so goes against peaceful demonstration and what Martin Luther King Jr. taught.

Instead, my goal is to share why I vote the way I do in hopes I can move the needle. Thanks in advance to the Daily for giving me a forum. My thoughts on this past election are loosely organized, and there’s much more to the story. But here’s the best I can do for now.

I was once a Republican. I quit voting Republican years ago because I saw then what America sees now – a party that rejected equality, freedom for all, and fair play.

The Republican Party has been taken over by the far right, by an extreme ideology. Locally, the commentaries printed in the paper by Dick Gustafson, Butch Mazucca, Michael Cacioppo and other usual suspects serve no other use than to poison the well. I believe this ideology and commentary is causing reasonable people to ignore the party. I think there’s indisputable proof that it’s not attracting new Republicans and is not attractive to young people.

Plenty of others who care share my same thinking – see Margaret Hoover. Ms. Hoover is a political commentator, gay rights activist, media personality and author. She’s a Republican.

For sure, there are good Republicans out there: David Stockman, Olympia Snow, David Walker and John Huntsman come to mind. Maybe Chris Christie. One of my favorite columnists is David Brooks.

But unfortunately, the Republican Party pays no attention to these fair and reasonable minds. This is just more proof of how far off base today’s Republican Party is.

On election night I stopped into Paradigm, a restaurant in Eagle. I had a nice chat with Michael Cacioppo. I had never met him before. Even though he and I disagree on just about everything, I found him to be quick thinking and smart. Each time I see Michael now, I’ll say hello and ask if he has time for a chat.

Michael told me, and I’ll paraphrase, that he thought the reason Mr. Romney lost was that the party didn’t elect a conservative enough candidate.

While I respect his views, all one has to do is look at the exit polls to see the real reasons why the Republican Party took such a beating locally and nationally.

From Charles Blow, New York Times columnist:

“According to exit polls, Obama won 60 percent of the 18- to 29-year-old vote and 52 percent of the 30- to 40-year-old vote. He won 69 percent of the vote in big cities and 58 percent of the vote in mid-sized cities. He won 93 percent of the black vote and more than 70 percent of the Asian and the Hispanic votes. He won over half of the female vote. And he won 76 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual vote.

“The base of Democratic support in this country is expanding. The Republican base is shrinking, becoming more racially homogenous, more rural and older.”

The other proof of how far off base Cacioppos is are the over-the-top comments by conservative favorites Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

In the same piece, Charles Blow went on to write: “On election night, Bill O’Reilly said: ‘It’s a changing country, the demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.’ O’Reilly continued: ‘The white establishment is now the minority.'”

Ann Coulter, who activates my gag reflex whenever I type her name, said Wednesday: “If Mitt Romney cannot win in this economy, then the tipping point has been reached. We have more takers than makers and it’s over. There is no hope.”

Rush Limbaugh said, “Mitt Romney and his family would have been the essence of exactly what this country needs” and that Romney “did offer a vision of traditional America.”

Limbaugh went on: “I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country. I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country.”

Blow then summarized:

“You would think that the world came to an end Tuesday night. And depending on your worldview, it might have. If your idea of America’s power structure is rooted in a 1950s or even a 1920s sensibility, here’s an update: that America is no more.

“Republicans are trying to hold back a storm surge of demographic change with a white picket fence. Good luck with that.”

I couldn’t agree with Mr. Blow more.

I thought the election was a great night. I’ve told Don Rogers in emails that my hope was an Obama win would wake up the Republican Party and cause it to abandon its out-of-touch platform.

What was most encouraging to me is that Americans saw through the dark money and made good decisions. Three states approved gay marriage. Two states approved legal weed. Twenty female senators were elected. After all that dark money spent (which, by the way, 81 percent went to Republican races), Obama was re-elected and the Democrats gained four seats in the Senate. The extreme right lost seats.

Voters rejected the attack ads, yellers and the fringe – on both sides. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., outspent her opponent 15 to 1 but barely held onto her House seat. In Connecticut, Linda McMahon, a Republican, has now spent $100 million on two elections and lost decisively both times.

The tea party is over, which is kind of a bummer because it was a good example of democracy even if it was funded by special interests.

Bill O’Reilly and Ann Coulter called me a “taker” because I voted for President Obama. Taker is now the label dejour on rightwing blogs.

In my case, I dropped out of high school. I beat the odds and have gone on to a successful career in high technology. I’ve been in business on my own since 1991. No one has handed me anything.

For O’Reilly, Coulter and others to say what they do about me is akin to spitting on the American dream. They’re insulting me and millions of others who have risen above and worked hard for all we’ve earned.

Limbaugh and O’Reilly want to build a case of their side versus the rest – ostensibly white versus minorities, gay people, young people and anyone who voted for President Obama. Good luck with that.

If I had it my way, I’d put David Stockman in charge of the budget. Mr. Stockman was the budget director in the Reagan administration. He’s advocating a national sales tax, which I endorse. A national sales tax gets everyone involved in paying off our debt, not just some. It creates skin in the game. But Republicans reject Mr. Stockman because he doesn’t follow script. More proof of how out of touch the party is.

I’d vote for Michael Bloomberg for president, a former Republican. But Bloomberg has no shot in the party today because he believes in climate change. More proof of how far tilted today’s GOP is.

I thought Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg both showed a lot of guts and leadership to support the president for the outstanding effort he led with Hurricane Sandy. Both Christie and Bloomberg have since been admonished by the GOP. More proof …

Am I sounding like a broken record yet?

Locally, I thought Jeff Layman was a good choice. But like I say, the well is poisoned. Jeff didn’t present enough of a case that he has his own views, that he’s not simply following script. I voted for Stavney and Ryan not because they’re Democrats, but because I feel they’ll represent all the people, not some of the people.

If the Republican Party does not drop its far right platform, abusive rhetoric and return to its roots, elections will continue to be lost and the drubbing will continue.

So what’s really to fear here is not President Obama’s agenda. It’s the fear that our country will be led by one party, not two. It’s the fear that balance will have gone by the wayside. It’s the fear that our politicians will keep the gloves on instead of deal making and working with each other. If this happens, “don’t blame me, I voted for Obama.”

Folks around here on the right can continue with their anger and resentment of our president and perhaps yours truly. Good luck with that, too.

Or they can accept and embrace our country for what it is, drop their out-of-touch ideology, and listen to people like me who are telling them what the problems are.

It’s my hope they choose the latter because I want a balanced government, not a lopsided one.

I want a true democracy.

Paul Kulas is an Eagle resident.

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