I have always been a Democrat. I was born into a family of Democrats. My father was a labor-lawyer-turned politician. My mother had a variety of careers in the "helping professions" (she was a social worker, a nurse, a teacher and is now a pastor in the UCC). I grew up in a blue-collar town filled with blue-collar Democrats and, to the best of my knowledge, it still is. There were times when, as a kid, I would wake up and find George Mitchell or (legend has it) Ed Muskie sleeping in my bottom bunk. I used to make spaghetti and meatballs with the current governor of Maine. You get the idea. I am, in some sense, a Democrat if I am anything at all.
However, I also knew a few Republicans growing up. This was an era where Democrats and Republicans still regarded each other as fellow-patriots who cared about their country. They just disagreed, that's all. In the end, they knew, they would have to talk things out. I knew and respected then-Congresswoman Olympia Snowe. I knew her husband, too. John Mckernan ran against my dad in 1986 and beat him, becoming Governor of Maine. Dad and Jock were--and remained--friendly. As a kid I knew him as a good man with whom we disagreed. My grandparents, big fans of Hamilton Fish, were also Republicans like these.
I bring this up because that Republican Party--the moderate one that people like Olympia and Jock represent--is fighting for its life. My New York Times tells me that yet another moderate lost a primary yesterday. This time in Delaware. It also tells me that many, many Democratic operatives are very happy about what this means for November. I am not so sure. Honestly it makes me sad. I am sad that what was once a vital and valuable institution has come to this. I am also fearful. I am afraid that some of these people who have replaced moderate Republicans on the ballot might win.
The fact of the matter is, the people who have lost to folks like Joel Miller and Christine O'Donnell are rational, sensible human beings who want the best for their country. We shouldn't be celebrating their defeat. Even if Democrats do win Joe Biden's old seat in November we have lost the chance to have a frank and honest conversation about the direction of the country. We have lost the chance to consider the problems and celebrate the virtues of our system and our government. Now it will be a freak-show and a senseless circus continuously spinning out of control.
And we could lose. Turns out the electorate isn't all that interested in sane, rational people right now. Remember? This isn't how the GOP wanted this to go. To lose now would be a disaster. There would be no Olympia Snowe or John McKernan, or Scott Brown to come out of this mess and we would only have ourselves to blame. I guess I am saying that we need to put the champagne away now. Perhaps, even, someone needs to get on the phone and call the losers. Tell them we see what has happened and we care and we will miss them. Ask them for their support. Don't just expect a vast tide of moderates to cross party lines! This is too important for that. Our future is at stake.
The fact is, we need the moderates to come back. We need people who don't rattle on about Kenyan anti-colonialism, birth certificates and the still-fictitious "Ground Zero Mosque". This has gone on way to long to be funny. Ultimately we need a strong and humane Republican party to compete with in the arena of actual reality-based ideas. We don't have that right now. Right now we need to work hard to defeat these new republicans and hope that someday this madness will end.