Opinion: Confessions of a Lifelong California Republican

Letter to the editor: I would love to see the party return to its roots.

By Diana Stephens
When I turned 18 in 1977, I read both the Republican and Democratic platforms before registering to vote. The Democratic platform made me feel as though I had the weight of our whole society on my shoulders. I much preferred the Republican pull yourself up by your bootstraps philosophy, as well as the desire to keep government fiscally responsible and out of people’s business.

The next year the anti-abortion plank was added, which felt strangely invasive, but I chose to fight that battle from within the party by becoming a Republican for Choice. Sonograms soon made it clear that women would never be able to use abortions as a form of birth control, but after suffering all night through a miscarriage, I arrived at the doctor’s office and was treated by being given an abortion. I was grateful to my doctor and cannot imagine that there should be laws passed to prevent such care.

Time wore on and Republicans seemed to align themselves with so many nonsensical positions that I began to seriously question my choice of party. The hidden costs of pollution on the environment, other species, and our own health seemed excessive compared with those of responsible stewardship. As a classroom teacher I was faced with the possibility of being forced to report students to the authorities. Fortunately, due to the eventual defeat of Proposition 187 in the courts, I never faced that dilemma. Immigration reform makes sense and has been needed for a long time, but some compromise will be required and I have not heard enough of that on the right side of the political spectrum.

Today Republicans have mixed politics with religion as if they had never heard of the separation of church and state. Our over-dependence on moneyed interests makes me wish for a separation of business and state as well. One would think that fiscal prudence would occasionally override neoconservative tendencies, but no, we started two wars without any plan to pay for either of them, only one of which might have been justified. Both parties spend too much money; Republicans just want to spend it on supporting the industrial military complex. Another concern is the continued dismissal of empirical data that is deemed inconvenient, say, regarding global warming or evolution. This “dumbing down” of the Republican Party, as is witnessed daily on talk radio, is outright offensive at times.

So, what is a lifelong Republican to do? It is tempting to throw in the towel and register as an Independent, but I’ve come this far.  Maybe California Republicans, who now claim fewer than 30 percent of the registered voters in the state, should consider leading a campaign to recapture the party from the extremists who have taken it over. Those radicals are a minority after all, and we would receive much more support from the moderates, women, and minorities that were so important in the recent election. I would love to see the Republican Party return to its roots and stand for true fiscal responsibility and keeping government out of our bedrooms as well as our boardrooms.

Diana Stephens

Michael November 13, 2012 at 06:43 AM
As a life-long Democrat, I applaud your stance and couldn't agree with you more. While the country has drifted to the right, the ability to find middle ground has eluded politicians and the public alike. If every Republican was as thoughtful as you, there would be much more compromise, and our country would be better for it. Much better.
Steve Cohn November 13, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Is it possible that fiscally conservative Democrats/Progressives are the same as socially responsible Republicans/Conservatives?
c5 November 13, 2012 at 03:07 PM
i am an independent who felt forced to vote for obama...i lament what is going on in this state. i believe that the election results for california represent the worst case scenario for this once great state. the republicans in this state as well as in the rest of the country have to come to grips with the changing face of america. the radical right religious fringe loses national elections, it does not win them. same with a hard line indefensible stance on social issues and immigration reform. the sad part is that when you think about it, the republican party used to stand for those ideals that should resonate well with the changing demographics as well as young people--individual freedom, opportunity, etc....but instead we get dribble about trying to outdo each other in being 'tough' on immigration reform, anti-choice, anti-gay rights, etc....and those stances lose elections, they do not win them. i hope they get the message from this election. it may be too likely to save california but on a national level there is an easy path to get back on track.
Chris Nicholson November 13, 2012 at 03:41 PM
I blame Hispanics. The problem with the GOP moving away from Fundies and their social issues is demographics. The growing Hispanic population contains a significant proportion of conservative Catholics who actually agree with the aging/dying segment of the white GOP. This is a dangerous situation for "Moderate Republicans" seeking to reform the party because whereas white Fundies without a Fundie candidate will swing RIGHT, Hispanics without a Papal-compliant candidate tend to swing LEFT. More fundamentally, as we mature as a country and society, we are losing our entrepreneurial spirit and faith in the traditional American values of individualism. For a hundred years, we have been moving toward a social welfare state. Reagan was somehow able to pause that transition for ~20 years, but the underlying trends are undeniable. People increasing prefer a "Robin Hood" system (at some level, who wouldn't demand more when it feels "free?") False analogies to "Corporate Welfare," just validate the OWS mindset that handouts should not be eliminated, but rather should be shared equitably. I fear the country will need to hit the wall before it wakes up.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM
"Hispanics are not nearly as conservative as GOP strategists assume on social issues, nor are they very likely to cast their vote on the basis of these issues. Start with the level of social conservatism among Latinos. It is true that Hispanics are relatively conservative on the specific issue of abortion. But in a 2009 survey for the Center for American Progress, Hispanics actually had the highest average score of all racial groups on a 10-item progressive cultural index. And on the hot-button issue of gay marriage, surveys have repeatedly shown that Hispanics are no more conservative on this matter than whites are. Indeed, in a 2012 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, more Latinos (55%) said they supported marriage equality than did whites (48%). Even more damaging to the theory, Hispanics are actually much less likely than whites to vote on the basis of cultural issues. Thus, even where they are relatively conservative, as, for example, on abortion, they are not likely to align their vote with their view on that issue. Pre-election polls from Latino Decisions bear out this assessment. They asked Hispanic registered voters whether “politics is more about economic issues such as jobs, taxes, gas prices and the minimum wage; or politics is more about moral issues such as abortion, family values, and same-sex marriage.” Just 14% said politics was more about moral values compared to 75% who thought politics was more about economic issues.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 04:59 PM
(continued) It therefore appears that an effort to move large numbers of Hispanic voters over to the GOP on the basis of social issues would be highly unlikely to succeed at the current time. It’s an even worse bet in the future. Younger Hispanics are typically more progressive than their older counterparts on social issues, as are second and third generation Hispanics compared to immigrants. So generational replacement and assimilation will make the tomorrow’s Hispanic population less socially conservative than today’s. The bottom line for the GOP is clear: Change or die. And that change may be a lot more far-ranging than they are comfortable with. But if the party is serious about competing for Latino voters, they will have to get over their discomfort. Otherwise, the now-awakened sleeping giant seems likely to crush them in future elections just as it did in this one." Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/grand-anglo-party-article-1.1199742?pgno=2#ixzz2C7fuN9E7
Chris Nicholson November 13, 2012 at 05:37 PM
N&R: You misunderstand me. The GOP does not need to win (a majority of) the Hispanic vote, they need to win *more* of the CONSERVATIVE Hispanic vote. Abortion is the most important wedge issue here. The "problem" for the GOP is that HIspanics, unlike you, don't apply litmus tests to social issues. Large numbers of pro-life practices catholics vote Democrat even though they disagree with the candidates on these issues. By being more appealing on other issues, these voters could swing GOP. In any case, as I said above, the more fundamental distinction is our morphing national worldview. Personally, I think the latest quantum shift occurred when Obama in 2008 offered the promise of (i) more entitlements and social spending for all but (ii) only paid for by "the rich." This mathematical paradox has become accepted practice, and has removed the former common sense taboo against Robin Hood economics. Prop 30 is another example. I agree that the GOP must "change or die," and I hope they can get there via a modern view of social issues. But I fear that it won't be enough.
Regular Guy November 13, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Many of today's hot-button issues will seem irrelevant when the state runs completely out of money. We'll marvel at how anyone could have thought it was a good idea to start a high-speed rail project. With unemployment at 25%, nobody will care about fabricated threats to abortion rights. We will have real and serious problems to solve. At that point, a message that government benefits should be limited to the truly needy will win. Not until then will voters lose faith in the proposition that government always keeps its promises, that it can solve every problem, and that we can all live well by picking each others' pockets. The government must scale back because the money is not there. That message must not change. Instead, reality will change to match the message. It will happen quite suddenly, much more suddenly than we have seen in Europe. Winston Churchill never softened his warnings about the Nazis because people didn't want to hear them. He remained prepared to lead his country against an existential threat. We need to emulate him.
Eastofthehills November 13, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The GOP has never been able to hold sway in the cities; you only need to look at a by county map to see how "Red" this country really is. The real problem the GOP runs into is that it can't beat Santa Claus. Prop 30 is a perfect example; it mostly soaks the rich; I think the problem we are starting to run into is popular rule versus property rights; it's basically results in a moral hazard. It's very easy to raise someone elses taxes, but a lot harder when it's your own. The real problem is the super rich can always move away; they can afford it. If I owned a small/medium business in California why would I pay high corporate taxes and high income taxes? Even if California was the majority of my business I would be better off incorporating out of state, paying taxes on my California corporate profits, and paying personal tax to California or taxes on my non california business to california.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
"The "problem" for the GOP is that HIspanics, unlike you, don't apply litmus tests to social issues." You don't know anything about how vote or who I voted for. Since you're a white guy I'll assume you're a member of the KKK.
Born and Raised November 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM
"I blame Hispanics". In three simple words you have describe not only your party's lack of understanding of minority issues but why many vote AGAINST the Republican party. You can blame who you want, in the end it wasn't just Hispanics or minorities that voted Obama into another term. The arrogance of the Republican followers to think that they are more patriotic, individual and intelligent than any other party's supporters is another fallacy that others look at as a negative. Keep this up and in 2016 all of your fears will come true and Hillary Clinton will be elected.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Why not just move to Texas?
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Why stay in California?
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 06:50 PM
B&R - You're making assumptions about CN just as CN makes assumptions about how I voted. I responded with a criticism of his view so CN assumes I'm a liberal. CN makes a statement and now you assume he's a Republican opposed to minorities. I wish I had the power to know how people think. Maybe one day I'll be bitten by a radioactive spider during a lab tour and have such magical powers that most Patch readers seems to have. For now I have to muddle through life as a mere mortal. Sad face.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Every major office in Alabama is held by a conservative Republican. Taxes are low. Cost of living is low. This is the 21st century. Technology and airplanes allow you to live most anywhere you want. I don't understand why people unhappy with California don't seek out areas more suitable to their liking. I know liberals who live in Mississippi and they gripe all the time about their state. I tell them the same thing as I'm suggesting to you. "So move already." I think liberals in conservative states and conservatives in liberal states stay put because they just like being unhappy. Life's too short for that. So far we haven't required a passport to move from one state to another. So it's really not that hard to do.
c5 November 13, 2012 at 07:04 PM
this is one of the fallacies of the 'soak the rich' mentality, especially when it comes to state taxes. the money never shows up as planned as individuals and companies adjust behavior to minimize (legally) their exposure to california tax rates, and some will over time move or expand business outside the state. things may look ok for a couple of years even as we continue to lag in the recovery, but the next time economic activity slows the budget gap (with even higher spending baked in) will be even bigger than we have seen, and the tax base will have eroded even more... in my household we are already altering our behavior in reaction to the tax increases...changing the mix (away from education) and reducing charitable contributions, looking for ways to legally minimize california taxable income, etc...and yes a move is not totally out of the equation....and those who would say 'good riddance' have no idea what they are saying, because it is invariably the tax payers who leave, not those who are the recipients of the income transfer...
Born and Raised November 13, 2012 at 07:17 PM
N & R, Chris has been around sometime and has made his affiliations and opinions pretty clear. No assumptions. His track record speaks for itself. He has historically gotten into spirited arguments that can last days if not weeks. I do think it refreshing and diplomatic that your willing to give him the benifit of a doubt though.
Chris Nicholson November 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM
@N&R: I assume you are Kenny. @B&R: Half my family is from Puerto Rico (my grandmother was born there).
Born and Raised November 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Chris, Why is it that whenever someone says a derogatroy or otherwise racist comment they follow up with either "hey, I have ______ friends" or "my great aunt was________" or my favorite among Republicans these days, "you calling me a racist is in essence showing that it is YOU who is the racist".
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 09:02 PM
CN - My name is Nate and my wife's name is Rachel. Nate & Rachel. N&R. Nice & Rough. It is an ID that we have used in other forums. I do not know who Kenny is.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 09:12 PM
B&R - I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. People are rarely black and white. They are usually very gray. It is also easy to misunderstand what someone is asking or saying because the visual cues of face to face communication are lost.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Good riddance.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
And we pay taxes.
Amanda November 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I'm pretty sure Chris is no anti-hispanic. And when I say pretty sure, I mean, he's not. It's called baiting, people. And you guys took the bait.
Nice and Rough November 13, 2012 at 09:23 PM
My sympathies to the grandmother born in Puerto Rico. After the recent Puerto Rican birth certificate mess, my wife and I deserve the "We survived the Puerto Rican birth certificate nightmare" tshirt.
Chris Nicholson November 13, 2012 at 09:37 PM
@Amanda: It's also called an attempt at humor. When I said "blame" I meant "attribute the outcome" and not an assignment of culpability. I think this is clear from the context of my other remarks in the same post. And, @B&R: I also hate it when people get personal and talk about having "many black gay handicapped friends who suffer PTSD." I don't care about your race or gender, I just care about your ideas. My position is that the GOP has not evolved with changing demographics. I find it regrettable that the populace is so closely aligned with identity buckets that seemingly should not dictate political leanings, but that is the statistical reality of the world we live in. Given that, it is foolish to ignore race, gender, etc., when discussing political strategy. Is it racist to observe that virtually all black voters voted for Obama? Whatever your answer, it is silly to ignore the fact if you want to predict the outcome of elections.
Born and Raised November 13, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Amanda, I didn't take the bait. I pissed on it and left the trap alone.
Kenny November 13, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Mr. Nicholson - I was surprised to hear that my name was mentioned. How kind of you to think of me. While I still check-in with the Lamorinda site, my focus remains parenting blogs which the Lamorinda site doesn't offer. However, many other Patch sites do & you can find me cruising around those & commenting with my standard ID. If this site ever picks up a parenting blog, I'm sure you'll see me back. Other than parenting blogs, I like to leave commenting to those far more invested in the topics. Take care.
lisa November 14, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I see a lot of this or that about the Hispanic vote. Although Catholics tend to be anti-abortion, most believe MORE strongly in helping the poor and needy....something the suffering lower/middle income folks have to generally contend with. GOP has the opposite view. Sorry, social issues are not going to help the GOP...ever..in terms of the Hispanic view of life. I grew up in a heavily Hispanic/Filipino/diverse/minority City in the Bay Area and the GOP has never benefited the Latinos or anyone I've ever known in their every day lives. The GOP still and will always benefit citizens that have always had a huge leg up and/or parental help to begin with.
Marcia Nelson April 28, 2013 at 10:13 PM
This woman is a phony. She was/is not a Republican, much less a lifelong one. Just a typical lying Democrat masquerading as a republican. This is a favorite meme of the left. I've never seen a "lifelong Democrat" claim to be, for the first time ever (!) voting Republican in an election. Probably because it's lame and fools no one. It certainly won't keep them from trying. Over and over and over again.


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