Grand ol’ failure

By Yousef Munayyer

I’m a Republican. No, wait, please keep reading; I swear I’ll explain. I know it’s a tough gig to pull in this town, but here is the deal. I’m not actually a registered member of any party. This is because I have very little faith in the parties that dominate political discourse and can’t fathom letting other people persuade the way I vote because they brandish a donkey or an elephant.

Sadly, American politics has only further disintegrated a hostile petting zoo of nothing more than donkeys and elephants defecating on a lawn that occasionally grows high enough to be called the Green Party.

When it comes to most issues, I find that I identify with the conservatives more. Many of you who have read my column before are thinking I’m a blatant hypocrite now, but that’s not the case. What I’m trying to explain, and what I’m quite angry about is the status of the Republican Party and conservatives now, and how this administration has disenfranchised many of its own.

I will not concentrate on President Bush’s personal short-comings. Besides, I am only permitted so much space to write, but rather what is important to understand is that the Bush administration is not very Republican at all, at least not to me.

When Bush ran for office, he promised several things. I’m not even sure if he even remembers any of his campaigning, because he hasn’t done much of what he originally said he would. The whole campaign is a blur to me as well; I just remember it culminating in hanging chads and a Supreme Court case. Remember all that talk about education and no child left behind? What has come of that initiative?

I know that most schools are strapped for cash now more than ever before. I know that the University of Massachusetts, along with other schools, is consistently feeling the heat when it comes to budget woes. Many state governments are inching to the brink of bankruptcy. How much time and effort has Bush spent supporting schools? Well there was this one photo I recall of him leading story time at an elementary school, appropriately enough Bush was holding his book upside-down. The fact of the matter is the campaign platform that focused on “putting education first” hasn’t put it on the list at all.

Now I know many people are thinking that poor ol’ George just caught some bad luck with 9/11 and that threw his whole plan off; I don’t really buy that. The President took most of the month of August off to vacation while presiding over the largest security blunder in the history of this nation. I can agree that 9/11 changed the world; there is no dispute in that, but Bush has done little to reflect the conservative ideal on post-9/11 America. With the nation’s economy already slumping and unemployment figures rising, the Bush team needed to focus on solving those problems. At the same time, 9/11 opened the window of opportunity for every neo-con in the pentagon to get off the simulator machines and put their plans to work in real life.

Since Bush took office, government has never been larger. This administration has created bureaucracies that would make Franklin Delano Roosevelt jealous. Spending has gone through the roof. The tax cuts have dried up a surplus so drastically that the national debt is reaching new heights every day. The tax cut may have stimulated the economy prior to 9/11 but continuing with it now is pointless. There is a desperate need for money in a government that is bigger and nosier than it should be. Not to mention that most of the money that is in the budget isn’t going where it should be, like education, as we were promised a few years ago.

Investors are scared to jump back into the market and I can’t blame them. The economy began this descent after the high of dot-com investing vanished towards the end of the Clinton years. But since then, no light has been seen at the end of the tunnel. White-collar crime, perpetrated by the likes of Enron (Enron officials were some of the largest contributors to the Bush campaign) has instilled a fear in investors only rivaled by instability caused by the constant state of war since 9/11. People don’t want to move their money around, and President Bush has given them no reason to.

The recent decisions of the Supreme Court regarding affirmative action and gay rights have shown that the conservatives are losing ground in those national debates. Not to mention “Log Cabin” Republicans – can there be a bigger oxymoron? This is yet another area where Bush has rarely put forward an effort to make a difference.

The status of the Republican Party disappoints me. I’m not crazy about any of the Democratic candidates for 2004 – I don’t even see a difference in many of them. If the Republican Party were willing to put up someone other than its joke of an incumbent, I would highly consider it. Unfortunately though, that is unlikely, and this administration has made many conservatives take an “anyone-but-Bush” attitude.

The Republican Party has transformed into some mutant composed of confused middle-of-the-road politicians and extremist ideologues that are bent on being the cartographers of the Middle East. Not to mention that it’s carried by an intolerant, perverse form of good vs. evil patriotism that encourages discrimination towards anyone now waving Old Glory.

The truth is that the Republican Party has forgotten what Old Glory is about; they have forgotten what they stand for, and they have allowed neo-cons to hijack their party and control it in the national arena as well. Maybe this will all work out and the GOP will reform itself, and maybe one day we can understand the phenomenon that is “Log Cabin” Republican thinking. HA! Well, one can always hope.

Yousef Munayyer is a Collegian columnist.