I'm named after this guy, and I had an autographed photo of this guy on my dorm room walls in high school and college (still have the photo, but my wife says it, um, clashes with our decor.)
I'm a classical liberal, economically (laissez-faire is my mantra) and a hawk on foreign policy and defense.
I am not, however, a social conservative for the most part, and have watched with increasing concern as social conservatives have essentially taken over the Republican party, wielding an influence quite disproportionate to their actual numbers. I do see hopeful signs--some moderate Republicans, including prominent elected officials, are trying to be heard above the din--but for the most part, I don't recognize "my party" any longer.
I have remained a registered Republican, recognizing essentially that my economic and foreign policy ideals preclude finding myself a home in the Democratic Party, while my positions on social issues increasingly estrange me from the GOP. (On the other hand, with Bush creating massive new Medicare entitlement programs and spending us into penury in Iraq, I'm not so sure that he belongs in the Republican Party, either.)
I try to get along with my social conservative brethren in a spirit of tolerance and good humor, though it has been difficult at times.
During the last election cycle, when GOP fundraisers called me and tried to whip me up into a frenzy of check-writing indignation over the gay marriage issue, I calmly told them that while I was a happily married heterosexual man, I thought that it was absurd and insulting for Bush and Co. to be demagoguing such a non-issue while there were much more important concerns before the nation.
Did we, as a party, no longer believe in individual rights?
(I told one particularly strident lady that I have met many charming gay men since moving to New York City and, were it not for a few minor issues of sexual mechanics and attraction, would strongly consider marrying one or two of them. Regrettably, she hung up on me before I could elaborate further.)
Yeah, it's tough sometimes. Stem-cell research. Teaching evolution in schools. And on and on.
It's the little things that really drive me around the bend, though. Every now and then, a news story comes along that really makes me blow my cool. Something preternaturally stupid and offensive, something that really makes me wonder why I stay in a party with such raving imbeciles, something... like this (links added):
Tolerance! The deuce you say! Step away slowly from the tolerance with your hands up, punk.
"Does anybody here know SpongeBob?" Dr. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, asked the guests Tuesday night at a black-tie dinner for members of Congress and political allies to celebrate the election results.
SpongeBob needed no introduction. In addition to his popularity among children, who watch his cartoon show, he has become a well-known camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick and likes to watch the imaginary television show "The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy."
Now, Dr. Dobson said, SpongeBob's creators had enlisted him in a "pro-homosexual video," in which he appeared alongside children's television colleagues like Barney and Jimmy Neutron, among many others. The makers of the video, he said, planned to mail it to thousands of elementary schools to promote a "tolerance pledge" that includes tolerance for differences of "sexual identity."
At times like this, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Or to exercise my constitutional right to firearms ownership and just go up in a tower and start shooting until a police sniper settles my hash.
The entrepreneur in me thinks that I've got plenty of lead time to print up SpongeBob T-shirts for Pride Week.
Hey, an opportunity for profit! Hmm. I guess maybe I am a Republican after all.
But please, guys, lay off SpongeBob.