March 22, 2013

The other day I concurred with Joshua Green’s contention that the Republican Party had two major problems in its quest to correct the mistakes of the 2012 presidential campaign. And I specifically took on the racist birther lie and its impact on African Americans.

“Blacks hated it — and continue to hate it,” I wrote. Mine was a direct response to Green, who said he didn’t feel qualified to discuss the effect it had on blacks. But that didn’t stop Jeffrey Whitbred, a fallen-away Republican from West Covina, Calif., from writing. I describe him as a fallen-away Republican because, as you will see from a section of his email below, the party’s reaction to the birther lie was the last straw for Whitbred.

I am writing mainly to discuss the birther issue. You mentioned the effect that it had on blacks. It is not only blacks, as it had an effect on me too. I was registered Republican since I was in college and voted in my first Presidential election in 1988. However, I changed my party affiliation to Decline to State, as they call independents in California, in 2010. I had been considering making this change since the 2008 primary season, mainly because I did not like the way the Republican Party was becoming more ideologically rigid and inflexible. The birther issue also turned me off greatly, mainly because in addition to it being a total lie, it was also a total distraction that detracted from what I felt were legitimate policy differences between President Obama and the Republicans.

 

Still, changing party affiliation requires one to fill out a new voter registration card and go to the post office, and never quite got motivated enough to do so. What finally got me to do it was the Republican’s reaction when President Obama released the long form of his birth certificate in 2010. I remember Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin both saying that the President shouldn’t be wasting his time on that matter but should rather be paying attention to the important issues facing the country. I just about wanted to scream when I saw that. Neither one of them had ever said that before the President released that certificate. Rather, they were both totally content to sit back and let everybody talk about that as if it was a legitimate issue. Then, when the President finally did respond to the calls to release the long form, they still found a way to turn this on him.

 

Had it only been Gingrich and Palin alone, I may not have been motivated to switch. However, in my opinion, they both represented the attitude of the entire Republican Party establishment in general. I finally decided that this was not the political party that represented my values or that I wanted to be affiliated with, and I did not want them taking me for granted as a member. I therefore downloaded the voter registration paperwork, filled it out and mailed it in the following day. I do not regret my decision at all, and I will never return to the Republican Party as long as it exists in its current state.

Right there, in three paragraphs, crystallizes an even deeper problem for the Republican Party. Sure, it has major issues with Latinos, young people, women and so many others. But Whitbred’s letter shows that it has some work to do to hold on to and woo back some of its own members. The Republican road to recovery will be mighty long.

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