July 1, 2010

Can you vote for Republicans but still oppose torture and other insanities?

I am really asking here. Help me out, people.

Of course, when I was a Republican (back in the 1980s), I would have thought that was a no-brainer. I would have thought that in the 90s as well, even as I moved to the other side. Hell, I would have thought so even as late as 2004. I genuinely thought that most Republicans were simply fooled by Bush (as was I, really) and even with the ineptitude of the first Bush administration, I could see how they could vote for Republicans. Most of my friends, I think, were simply convinced that Republicans could not be this bad. They just could not. Most of them thought that Rush Limbaugh was a tool, and even didn't like the religious right leadership of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. They were reasonable people.

I am beginning to question that now. I have watched as the Republican base endorses and even embraces torture. George Bush openly brags about water boarding KSM and says he would do it again. I heard no Republicans say anything about that, and on the other hand, have heard them accuse Democrats of exposing us to more harm if we don't torture people when we get the chance. Republican candidates get cheered when they assure their base that they will be tough on terrorists and expand Gitmo.

I have a friend who believes that voting for Republicans does not mean, in any way, that he agrees with their stance on torture. He points out that surely I don't agree with everything that every Democrat votes for and supports. On that note, I agree with him--strange bedfellows and all of that. But I wonder if there is a limit to that. At times, for example, I am uncomfortable with the Democrats approach on hate crimes, or even some of their take on taxation. I did not agree totally with those who wanted and want us to just get out of Afghanistan. But ultimately, I can see their point on all of those issues, and even when I don't agree, I understand that reasonable people can disagree. Hell, there are still points with the Republican party where I stand in that same place.

But I don't see how torture fits in there. It isn't just another policy decision. It is a war crime and an atrocity. It is a crime against humanity. It is an act of evil. I don't see how rational people look at that, shrug, and still vote for a party that embraces and cheers that act. I don't get it.

Am I being unreasonable there?


Bob said...

I don't think you are being unreasonable. We should have a critical eye about those we vote for and we must have our limits on how far a candidate of our own party can go before losing our vote.

I am a true blue Democrat and pretty liberal guy. I have voted for one Republican in my life. (She was a liberal woman running for State Rep. in a race no Democrat could win.)

Throughout the primary, I wasn’t a big Hilary Clinton fan, but I would have voted for her in the general had she been the nominee. At one point she crossed a line making me think I might have to vote for John McCain if she prevailed in the primary.

(Note, this was before Palin, and before McCain really lost his marbles.)

When Clinton started stating that she was the only one who could bring in the white vote and started using tactics with racial tones, she lost me. There was no way I was going to reward her behavior with my general election vote. She reached my limit. I had a big fight with my Democrat Dad on this one, but there was no way I would reward that B.S.

Every D and R voter has to set their limits based on their values. Whether it is torture or racist behavior, we need to show candidates that we will not provide them unwavering support if they campaign with unscrupulous tactics or take on unfathomable positions. I would have hated to vote for McCain, but I felt good knowing I wasn’t a total party tool.

Streak said...

Yeah, Hilary just about lost my vote there too. And I hear you on the party-line. I don't want to seem like someone who would vote for Democrats no matter what they do. I won't. But as I said, I am thinking that torture is the ultimate deal breaker. Racism might be too, but that is often at a the candidate level. If the party as a whole supports torture, isn't voting for any Republican voting for that tactic?

Bob said...

"If the party as a whole supports torture, isn't voting for any Republican voting for that tactic?"

That is tougher. If a candidate were to denounce toture, giving them support will be the only way to change the party.

Bob said...

In todays Politico. It is kinda related.

Graham argues throughout the story that the Republican Party will eventually move away from the fringe and join him closer to the political middle but that, for now, it has shifted too far to the right.

“Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the tea party movement’s at,” Graham says. “The problem with the tea party, I think, is it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39286.html#ixzz0sT4Or0vt

Streak said...

Bob, I agree that it would certainly be reasonable to vote for a Republican who denounced torture. I would like to see a few more of those. The only two I can think of are Lindsay Graham and John McCain--both of whom have waffled on the issue.

My problem is really how good moral people can vote for Republicans who openly endorse and defend torture.

Oh, and I saw that from Graham. I wonder how much flack he will take for badmouthing the Glenn Beck base. I think he is correct, in that the Tea Party is just a bunch of people angry that a black guy is in charge, but I don't see the grownups in the Republican party doing much to calm them down, or even distance themselves from them. In fact, I also saw today that House Republicans in fairly large numbers signed on to call for a total repeal of the ACA--all to placate the Club for Growth and Teabaggers.

steves said...

On the Nolan chart, I come out as a left of center, non-statist. I have voted for people from both parties. I agree with Bob. It comes down to what values a voter holds as most important. That being said, there are many times where I have voted for the least offensive candidate.

I doubt I could vote for someone that was a major supporter of torture, rendition, or anti-habeas, but there aren't many candidates that are consistent with all of these issues. While I agree that torture is an important issue, I doubt that most voters would place it in the top 10 (or even 20) issues that are important to them. I doubt that either party considers this an important issue, either.

I suppose that some moral people can support the GOP because they ultimately think that the Democratic plan/vision is more harmful to what they believe than the Republican plan.

Streak said...

I doubt that most voters would place it in the top 10 (or even 20) issues that are important to them. I doubt that either party considers this an important issue, either.

I am not sure that is the issue. I understand that most Americans have been happy to look the other way. But the Republican base has embraced and applauded torture. Watch the right wing candidates speak on this issue, and watch their crowds.

I would suggest that this is not an area where you can simply say that you will vote for the best person. Unless that person is explicitly against torture, it means that as a Republican, they will do nothing to stop it.

Finally, I understand that some moral people continue to vote Republican. My argument (and this is not inconsistent with your comment) is that most of those simply don't consider torture. But if they do, I would like to know how they could see torture as the lesser of two evils with anything the Democratic party offers.

Monk-in-Training said...

I am still a registered Republican, grew up in a Republican family and essentially have been one all my life.

Torture is an intrinsic moral evil, in and of itself, morally unjustifiable and a Mortal Sin.

When a government does this, they commit a ghastly sin against a human being, who bears the Imageo Dei, the Image of God. You also force a human to torture another, and to incur a horrible blight on his (or her) soul.

Do we have a psychological program in place to readmit these torturers to our society or do we just drop them back into their families and communities to deal with their horrors alone? I don't even have to answer that one.

Pres. G. W. Bush destroyed the Republican party for me, I doubt I could ever support another national figure. They are a sad caricature of what they once were.

Lord, forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work with prisoners and captives; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous, and when ordered to torture others, help them to resist and refuse the order for Your Name's sake. Oh Lord, since what we do for those held captive, we do for You, constrain us to improve their lot. Amen