What does it mean to be a Republican?
“When both party establishments have, over the past decade, set us on a course for creeping nanny state fascism and socialism, I am no longer prepared to accept that it is just politics.”
First, let’s get this out of the way. The news today of Parker Griffith becoming a Republican is a huge blow for Nancy Pelosi and one that her own party is, tonight, blaming her for. It is an embarrassment to President Obama who, like Bill Clinton, is seeing conservative and independent minded people fleeing him as fast as possible.But, on our side of the aisle, we need to ask, given that all Parker Griffith did was change the letter next to his name from a “D” to an “R”, what exactly does it mean to be a Republican?The GOP embraced him with open arms as one of us today. Should they have done so?Compare that to the Democrats who are fighting Arlen Specter in the Democratic Primary in Pennsylvania after his party switch to the Democrats.Parker Griffith may actually be a good Republican. He said he’d never vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker again. He voted against Obama. He voted against Cap and Trade. He has voted with the Republicans on a lot of issues, but he has still voted with Nancy Pelosi 80% of the time when you add up all the procedural votes, etc. that he has participated in.So why do we now give him a pass. Changing the letter next to his name does not actually change him as a person or change his mind.We may, in fact, decide that Griffith is the best we can do in AL-05. Several readers at RedState make this case, even though there is already a Republican running with the support of the local tea party movement in Alabama.Like with so many candidates in so many places, we should not rely on the GOP inside Washington to tell us who is and is not worth supporting. All of us are able to make up our own minds.But why give the guy a pass? Michael Steele, when Arlen Specter jumped to the Democrats, said it was because Arlen was putting his own political future ahead of the people he represented. Today, Steele praised Griffith’s conversion.People change all the time. Ronald Reagan started as a union boss and Democrat. He always said the Democratic Party left him, he did not leave the Democrats. We have to accept that people do change over time.But in a year?! It was not even a year ago that Parker Griffith was sworn in as a Democrat and the GOP was attacking him, citing posts from RedState, as a mouthpiece for Nancy Pelosi. Come on. Are we really supposed to believe this guy isn’t being a political opportunist? And if he is so ready and willing to switch so quickly to the GOP after the Democrats poured massive money into his district to get him elected in 2008, who is to say he is not later going to be a political opportunist of some kind against our side?I’ve got no overarching problems with Parker Griffith. He is, after all, an LSU graduate so he has to be mostly redeemable. I do, however, think it should take more than switching the letter after your name to make you “one of us.”The GOP fell out of power largely because the public could no longer tell what the GOP stood for other than the acquisition of power. It caused them to get greedy, corrupt, and lazy. If anybody can be an R regardless of what they stand for — and I recognize than a New England Republican is necessarily different from a Southern Republican — why have the label at all?At a minimum we need to think this through and not just be willing to go with the guy who has our preferred letter next to his name. When both party establishments have, over the past decade, set us on a course for creeping nanny state fascism and socialism, I am no longer prepared to accept that it is just politics. At some point ideas matter most.