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Former GOP lawmakers: Here's what's wrong with the Republican Party today

Dave Bishop
Dave Bishop

"I feel so lonesome."

Not the four words you expect to hear from a veteran lawmaker, attorney and respected community elder statesman. But that is how Dave Bishop, former state representative from Rochester, describes his life as a moderate Republican. Former state senator Bill Belanger of Bloomington scorns the Republican Party as "a tight little clique." Former state senator George Pillsbury of Wayzata says he feels "pushed out of" the Republican Party.

Although these three men and 10 other former GOP legislators are sincere in their support of Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, the endorsement carries a warning to the Minnesota Republican Party — watch your middle.

When asked whether the endorsement was intended as a statement to the party, Belanger replied, "Definitely!"


Belanger was one of the founders of the Bloomington GOP in the mid '50s. "We held monthly meetings that were open," he said. "We didn't have litmus tests."

Bill Belanger
Bill Belanger

Like the war horses they are, they buck and rear at the suggestion they are no longer Republicans.

"We are people who feel the party has kind of left us," Pillsbury said. "Tom Horner is a way to get back to the party we knew — a party that was in the majority at one time."

Former state Sen. Ed Oliver of Deephaven, who worked on behalf of Marty Seifert for the Republican endorsement, said: "If Marty were the endorsed candidate I'd be working for him. I'm not un-Republican." 

Bishop, characteristically, is blunter: "I don't want to be a Democrat. People said I have changed. I haven't changed; they have changed."

State budget gap
How have the Republicans changed? According to these former legislators, social conservatism was substituted for fiscal conservatism. As proof they cite the budget gap left by outgoing Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the spending increases in the federal government, much of which were amassed during the Bush administrations.

Social views can fit under the big tent, they say, but not at the expense of fiscal values — an area, these moderates say, the Republican Party has lost focus. Bishop again: "As fiscal conservatives they are frauds."

Former state Sen. George Pillsbury, with former state Reps. Neil Peterson and Peggy Leppik, have endorsed Independence Party candidate Tom Horner.
MinnPost photo by Joe Kimball
Former state Sen. George Pillsbury, with former state Reps. Neil Peterson and Peggy Leppik, have endorsed Independence Party candidate Tom Horner.

They also bemoan legislative gridlock. "I've been sick of what's been happening in the Legislature for the last six years — the lack of bipartisan cooperation," Belanger said.

Bishop agrees: "You govern from the middle, not from the extreme."

Peggy Leppik, former state representative from Golden Valley, echoes their concerns. "No party, no individual holds all the right solutions, they come in from all over the place," she said. "Honestly, I think they [political parties] are so guided by the far right far and far left that they don't feel they need to look anywhere."

All the former legislators I interviewed stressed that their endorsement of Horner has no ulterior motive. They all believe he's the right man for the job. But what if Tom Emmer gets elected? What if he reaches out to these Republicans for advice on how to govern? Would they say yes?

Leppik answered that one with a chuckle, "I would give it serious thought because that is precisely what I want all three candidates to do."

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Comments (58)

The problem is they've lost their integrity, and the fact that they still fail to identify that as the problem means we'll not be seeing any recovery any time soon. Instead of looking for solutions and deploying government for the good of the community and state (something Republicans used to do) they are trapped in a high school debate mode that establishes some "value" and then argues for it right or wrong. They played wedge politics to the hilt in order to get elected and some day there will be a reckoning for that sociopathic decision. Maybe that day is approaching.

I won't be voting for Horner this year but if these folks and their like were still holding office as Republicans I'd be voting both sides of the aisle in various elections. I'm glad to hear them say that people like Pawlenty are not fiscal conservatives. Saying, "no new taxes" and "get goverment out of the way" is not the same thing is fiscal conservatism. It is possible to have a goverment with a humane orientation and progressive policies and still have a balanced budget; but Pawlenty, Bachmann and the rest distort the argument because they really don't like their goverment and want to undermine it while foisting their narrow religious beliefs on the rest of us. I remember when both parties had good ideas but that was awhile ago.

The point of distinguishing between social and fiscal conservativsm is an important point. My favorite example of this is Barry Goldwater, who among other things said:

“To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable.”

“You don't need to be 'straight' to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”

“It's wonderful that we have so many religious people in our party, ... They need to leave their theologies in their churches.”

“The rights that we have under the Constitution covers anything we want to do, as long as its not harmful. I can't see any way in the world that being a gay can cause damage to somebody else.”

____

I did not vote for Goldwater for president, but had I lived in Arizona I would have voted for him in every election. He was truly a conservative who had a conscience. Something the GOP in Minnesota would do well to acquire.

I don't get it.

These elderly former Republicans make a valid point regarding T-Paw. He held the line on taxes, but dropped the ball on spending cuts...peanut butter, but no jelly.

Horner, on the other hand, is proposing to prop up the unsustainable status quo with a plan to tax everything he can lay his hands on...how, exactly, does that equate with fiscal prudence?

A true fiscal conservative will deliver a complete, fiscally responsible, financially sustainable package, which is *exactly and precisely* what Tom Emmer has promised to do.

Bill Belanger must find it pretty easy to say "We didn't have litmus tests", since the issues to which he alludes didn't exist in the darkest nightmares of any rational adult in the 50's.

Does he really mean to suggest that someone wishing to add infanticide and gay marriage to the party platform would have been warmly received by "his" GOP?

Please.

In any case, Tom Emmer has avoided dragging social issues into the discussion. The thoughtful conservative might well wonder "what more do these folks want"?

"Emmer has avoided dragging social issues into the discussion"

How disingenuous of you, Mr. Swift.

Emmer's hateful record on social issues speaks for itself. His surrogates now push these issues.

You know better.

"Hate" is another one of the dozens of words leftists have so badly misused, it's become meaningless without further detail.

To what "hateful' record do you refer, Bill?

It's instructive that none of these old "republicans" mentions why they ever considered themselves republican.

This country has a liberal party. It doesn't need two. The modern republican party is trying to become the nation's conservative party. If you're not a conservative, you'd be more at home with the other party.

And what's with this picking and choosing which issues you're going to be a conservative and which you're going to be a liberal? You either believe in freedom or you don't.

"Horner, on the other hand, is proposing to prop up the unsustainable status quo with a plan to tax everything he can lay his hands on...how, exactly, does that equate with fiscal prudence?"

Fiscal prudence is equating expenses with revenue. Horner's plan is fiscally prudent because that's what he's trying to do. To criticize him as fiscally unsound because he's willing to raise taxes is to abuse what fiscal conservatism means. At some point, the GOP became unhinged on this point, redefining fiscal conservatism as minimized taxes. That may be a conservative governing philosophy, but that is not fiscal conservatism.

I have heard more Republicans express similar thoughts recently. "Where's the Party I joined?" I don't know, but this one frightens me.

A few decades back, a cabal of extremely socially conservative "prosperity Gospel" (God want's God's people to be rich, therefore wealth is an unmistakable sign of God's favor and anything that stands in the way of the accumulation of wealth - taxes for instance - is evil)...

a cabal made up of a particular subset of Conservative Christian leaders pushed very hard for their followers to begin to take over political entities, nationwide, at the grass roots level. Their followers were encouraged to run for school boards, library boards, city councils, county boards, and yes, to attend local Republican meetings; in Minnesota, precinct caucuses, (at the time generally much more poorly attended that the Democratic caucuses), with the aim of taking over each of those organizations.

Thus was today's Minnesota Republican party born. Moderates of every type were crowded out of or given no voice in their local precinct caucuses. There was, quite literally, an unspoken litmus test for getting elected as a delegate to the county convention and on up. It was, quite literally, a coup orchestrated by outsiders.

How long will it be (if it ever happens) that the REAL Minnesota Republicans suspend their "Minnesota nice" attitudes, recruit a few of their friends, attend their precinct caucuses and take back THEIR party? The state (and nation, for that matter) needs you. We Democrats can't do this for you.

Please take action, moderate Republicans. Prepare yourselves for a short, nasty fight, but please fight! Orchestrate the retaking of your own party!

Once again, Tom, your coyness is cloying.

Mr. Emmer declines to discuss social issues.

Because he knows full well that people who are attracted to his dark side will "get it." And he also knows full well that the majority of his opinions on social issues are not in the mainstream for Minnesotans.

Is this relevant? Yes it is. The governor may very well have to sign legislation about these issues and the voters are entitled to know where the candidates stand.

You want to see some hate from Emmer supporters? Have a look at #mn2010. You want to see some hateful social positions from Emmer? Gay marriage, abortion, contraception, I could go on...

And you want to quibble about whether hateful is an appropriate term for Emmer's positions on social issues? Why isn't Emmer laying those on the table so that voters can judge for themselves whether they are hateful?

Dennis Tester writes
"And what's with this picking and choosing which issues you're going to be a conservative and which you're going to be a liberal? You either believe in freedom or you don't.

Who gets to define what passes for conservatism and what doesn't? To some conservatives, freedom & small government means government stays out of people's bedrooms. As Bill Gleason reminds us above, Sen Goldwater took that to the logical (and sensible, in my view) conclusion that a person being gay was irrelevant to their qualifications to join the military. That seems pretty conservative to me - live and let live. Believing in freedom means other people may be different from you.

Speaking of conservatism, what are the conservatives' opinions on the courts? What obligation do we have, as a society, to guarantee that the people maintain their right to a fair and speedy trial?

According to the following story, we're in danger of compromising that right for many Minnesotans:

http://www.minnpost.com/severnsguntzel/2010/10/13/22286/minnesotas_publi...

What's the conservative solution?

My dad was a life-long Republican. After the Bush fiasco(s), he says he will never vote Republican again.

I used to be able to vote both sides of the aisle, balancing my socially liberal (i.e. inclusive) values with a Scottish sense of fiscal conservatism that I inherited from my grandmother. It was nice to have a choice of two decent candidates, separated by nuances that, while important, still remained well within the mainstream.

Rovian politics changed all of that by making the Republican party beholden to a radical group of social ideologues, who don't care a wit for fiscal restraint. They have, in fact, become the Southern Democrats of yesteryear.

The fact that these traditional Republicans are finally willing to risk ostracism from their own party to call a spade a spade gives me some hope for the future.

Well done, gentlemen; with the world as it is today, we need your voices more than ever.

The Republican party went off the path of sanity when Reagan said, "Government is not the solution, government is the problem."

Instead of seeing government as as a viable referee to balance the needs of the people and the greed of a few, the greedy can now blame government for all their problems.

Can't get a job? --it's the government's fault. Can't make a profit? --it's government regulation. Can't get ahead? --it's because taxes are too high. Two hour commute? --the government can't fix the roads.

The other misguided principle is "Starve the beast to shrink it." When you cut taxes in one place, they pop up in another more insidious form, even more difficult to eliminate.

If Emmer gets elected, there will be fees for little league teams to use the parks, desk fees so your student can sit down in school, pay toilets in rest stops and parking meters in front of your house to pay for plowing. If you don't feed your dog, you can't blame him for getting in the garbage. The need doesn't go away because you quit funding it.

I find it fascinating that the comments of Mr. Swift and Mr. Tester illustrate precisely the point that the moderate Republicans are making, and illustrate also that they just don't get it, are not willing to listen, and are content to confine the GOP to such a restrictive, ideologically narrow space - a pup tent rather than a big tent, if you will - that it will forever be condemned to being a minority party. And in so doing, they reject the most successful elements of their own party's history. I too once considered myself a moderate Republican, and I have been saying since the 80's that I didn't leave the party, the party left me. I get exactly what people quoted in the article are talking about.

Mr. Swift also makes a comment that illustrates why so many of today's right wingers are not true conservatives, at least not in the libertarian sense. Mr. Swift considers gay marriage to be one of the "darkest nightmares of any rational adult". Someone who truly believes that government has no place intruding in people's lives would have no issue with gay marriage. Gay marriage, as Sen. Goldwater noted, does not harm anyone. People should be free to live their private lives any way they please, as long as they do no harm to others. Interesting, isn't it, that it's the liberals who uphold this principle, not the "conservatives". What you're truly saying, Mr. Swift, by describing the marriage of two adults as a "darkest nightmare", is that they are not fully human by your definition, and therefore should not be accorded the same rights as those who are (those who think like you), and thus may not marry just because, well, you don't like it. That may accurately be described as hatred, and is in any case, the position of someone who wants the government to impose its will on the private lives of citizens.

Ain't hypocrisy grand?

Sen. Goldwater was right - the religious right ought to keep their fraking theological beliefs in church.

Governance can only be effective from the center, because most people don't agree with the extremes (and this applies to the left as well as the right). If we can't get back to the sanity of all sides working together for the common good and supporting good ideas and creative solutions regardless of their origin, then there is no hope that this country will ever solve the serious issues facing it. We need pragmatism, not extremism, because most of us are just never going to drink the koolaid.

Once again, Bill, your lack of detail is distracting.

You admit that Emmer declines to discuss social issues, but take that to mean you're at liberty to write a script for him.

It doesn't and you're not.

By way of avoidance, you suggest that if "[I] want to see some hate from Emmer supporters? Have a look at #mn2010."

Well, I just did look, and I'll be damned if I can see one example of "hate" anywhere. Did you mean MN2020?

Drawing from an apparently inexhaustible supply of non sequiturs, you continue “[Do I] see some hateful social positions from Emmer? Gay marriage, abortion, contraception, I could go on..."

But once again, you *don't* go on...because you can't.

With all due respect Bill, from what you’ve provided so far, the thoughtful reader is left to conclude that the "dark", "hateful" things you wish to label Tom Emmer with, only exist in your head.

"And what's with this picking and choosing which issues you're going to be a conservative and which you're going to be a liberal? You either believe in freedom or you don't."

Dennis, the ability to "pick and choose" your own thoughts on a subject is neither a conservative nor a liberal idea: it is, in fact, the very essence of freedom.

"Honestly, I think they [political parties] are so guided by the far right far and far left that they don't feel they need to look anywhere."

Can we stop with the false equivalency? Disgruntled Republicans might like to pretend the Democrats have been an extreme left party to mirror what's happened to the Republicans, and journalists sometimes need to pretend the parties move in equal and opposite directions for the sake of balance, but that doesn't make it true.

The fact is the Democrats have become the centrist party as well as the left party. We don't have this problem where the base of the party is pushing out anyone who is insufficiently extreme or who disagrees on some issues. This is the Republicans' problem, so please leaves us out.

"We don't have this problem where the base of the party is pushing out anyone who is insufficiently extreme or who disagrees on some issues."

Joe Lieberman called and said you owe him a Coke.

"Joe Lieberman called and said you owe him a Coke."

Smilin' Joe proves the point. For the Dems, fratricide has been limited to him and an attempt on Sen Lincoln, in AR - 2 in the last 2 election cycles. For the Repubs in this cycle alone, we saw Toomey chase out Specter, Haysworth made an attempt on McCain & Rubio drove out Crist; off the top of my head. Oh yeah, Miller over Murkowski in AK, and whats-his-name over Bennett in Utah.

I think calling that 'false equivalence' is fair.

swift is an excellent example of why so many Republicans are leaving the party. He is rigid with fixed ideas and obsessions about unions, taxes, social justice issues like equal rights for everyone. There is never any real dialogue with him or Tester, who seems to think anything in the center of the political discourse is "liberal."
No wonder our governments are in so much trouble. And Reagan kicked it off and has sent our country down the road to increasing dysfunctionality.

I'm tired of hearing about gridlock in the absence of laying blame. I watched the legislature give major concessions to the Republican side on both election laws and the budget— and then I watched the Republicans, as a block, refuse to vote for improving our election law because the bill did not have the provision for voter I.D. that they had demanded. Similarly, I watched as Democrats made painful cuts to the budget—cuts they knew were not good for this state— because the governor's staff said, If you do this, the governor will sign the bill. I believe they gave him everything he wanted except for not raising taxes on the richest Minnesotans. And still the governor refused it. So when people talk about gridlock, I wish they would inform themselves about who—exactly—did what, and discredit accordingly.

By the way, legislative hearings are livestreamed on The Uptake and other sources. My hope is that people will watch them next session, and put themselves in a position to make informed comments about what's actually going on.

In regard to the Gleason - Swift debate, I think Swift convinces no one here but himself and he can only convince himself, I think, because he is blind to his own motivations. Either that or he just argues for the sake of argument or for some other personal reason. The hate from the right is apparent to anyone who isn't part of that hate. Bill, you forgot immigration too. And I'm willing to bet that Swift and Emmer have strong opinions on that Muslim Community center in Manhatten, the one that is farther from "ground zero" than some strip clubs.

Thomas, "Joe Lieberman called and said you owe him a Coke."

Lieberman cmapigned for the GOP cnadidate in 008 and lied about our candidate at the GOP convention. He has since been an obstacle consistently in the Senate. He's been on the right side of some things, like the attempt at a climate change bill, but his agreements are the exception rather than the disagreements. He's actually the exception that proves the rule, because he shows how far Democrats have to go before other Democrats give them the boot. Republicans just have to express doubt that Obama is a Muslim, and out they go.

Nicely done, Ms. Brucato.

As some others have stated, there was a time when I actually voted for people on both sides of the aisle. That was quite a while ago, and the people featured in the article were precisely the sort of Republicans that I once considered seriously as candidates.

However, instead of a fiscally conservative devotee of “live and let live,” the current Republican candidate for Governor is someone who believes that obeying the supreme law of the land, as quite clearly stated in the Constitution, is "optional," depending upon how the local population feels about it. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that this is an extreme position, since that issue was settled in 1865, in part through the bloody sacrifice of Minnesotans. It's a position Tom Emmer has taken publicly, though not, I note without surprise, during the campaign. In doing so, he has disqualified himself from any public office as far as I'm concerned.

The Republicans interviewed for this piece have been abandoned by their former party, which is now controlled by people of the Swift/Tester mind set, who appear to be suffering from the illusion of central position and its accompanying temper tantrums, complete with name-calling, that’s common among small children.

"For the Dems, fratricide has been limited.."

Ah, just so. To the leftist, the measure of righteous fratricide is quantitative, not qualitative.

*Shrug* At least they're consistent.

As a long time Democrat, the country needs a viable Republican Party. The two party system has served our nation well for two centuries. Obviously, the wing-nuts have captured the GOP; and that party can only build a greater America IF the voices there are rational, constructive, willing to create a dialogue with others, and willing to compromise for the greater good, not just obstruct.

I can't agree the solution is a third party -- the better solution would be a massive defeat for the extremists in the GOP this Nov., which hopefully would cause the party to re-assess itself and trun back to the values it once provided as a postive and moderate voice. To that end, I would hope there are enlightened Republicans who are willing to lose a battle to win an important and vital war for the party.

Mr. Swift, the jig is up for today. I've wasted enough time on you and arguing with you is a losing proposition. (As in waste of time).

I am free to write a script from Mr. Emmer's positions that he took in the legislature. If he wishes to state that he has changed his mind on some of these matters, he should please feel free to do so.

If you want an example of a hate mongery on #mn2010 you need go no further than squawkradio people who post there. Or people who call themselves madvoters and such and verbigeratively post the same tweets every five minutes. Their message is "vote against the DFL" because their own candidates are so pitiful that this is about the only argument they have. This is pretty much the line that Emmer and his puppet masters are using.

As for the hateful positions that both you and Mr. Emmer espouse, I can do no better than to refer you to the comments in #16 by Lance Groth. And to what a conservative with a conscience, Mr. Goldwater said.

Why do you hate real conservatives, Tom? (To use a cheap rhetorical stunt that people like you can appreciate.)

Election day cannot come soon enough, Mr. Swift. I hope and pray that Minnesotans will finally start taking their state back from the haters.

Until you verbigerate again, Mr. Swift. But on another topic, I have real work to do right now.

The Swifts of the world like to call anyone who disagrees with them "leftists", as if that settles the argument. It's a two-dimensional, relativistic world view that gives them a sense of security in a complicated world. If those of us commenting in this space are to the "left" of Swift, there is nothing to his right but the abyss.

Mr Swift, while I am proud to be to your left, most leftists find me far too conservative for comfort.

You raised Lieberman in rebuttal to Eric Ferguson's statement that "We don't have this problem where the base of the party is pushing out anyone who is insufficiently extreme or who disagrees on some issues."

If we look here in Minnesota, for example, Mr Ferguson is correct: Dems tolerate blue dogs like Colin Peterson and Tim Walz because they're good fits for their districts. They are not liberals in the same form as Keith Ellison or Betty McCollum - yet they didn't suffer primary challenges. If we look at the whole of congress, there are more examples, of course.

So it seems to me that Mr Ferguson is correct: the Dems aren't pushing out candidates that are insufficiently extreme. Repubs are. Can you cite facts to refute my point, or should I expect more schoolyard taunts?

"If you want an example of a hate mongery on #mn2010 you need go no further than squawkradio people who post there...Their message is "vote against the DFL""

Oh, merciful God no! I had no idea....(facepalm)

"Until you verbigerate again, Mr. Swift. But on another topic, I have real work to do right now."

Well, Bill, we're still waiting for the *first* appearance of a factual example of what you're trying to prove, so while amphigory abounds, there's certainly no danger of verbigeration from your corner.

But let no one say you don't know when to stop digging; well eventually...good on ya!

Brian, if a quantitative tit-for-tat is what you seek, I can accommodate you...Olympia Snow, Susan Collins, Scott Brown and those that consider themselves "Rockefeller Republicans". They are tolerated because they are a good fit for their states.

But numbers are a facade. The real question is *why* some politicians get rejected by their party's.

For a Republican party that is re-acquainting itself with fiscal prudence, personal liberty and a government that restricts it's influence to what the US Constitution grants it people like "the gang of six" simply do not fit.

That doesn't mean they're bad people, it just means they haven't thought their positions through carefully enough to find solid ground to stand upon; oh, and they're wrong.

"For a Republican party that is re-acquainting itself with fiscal prudence, personal liberty and a government that restricts it's influence to what the US Constitution grants it..."

Wow, 0 for 3.

And the Republican in-house fighting continues...

Dog fights aren't legal these days, thank the gods, but this one is almost almost fun to 'watch'. You could say when you mix and match gay bashers and those MCCL 'body slavers' trying to own, control other people's bodies...it's one dangerous bull ring here, indeed.

Will there be anything but a bloody puddle of self doubt and nasty recriminations left on voting day?

Wise move to wash your hands for thirty seconds and vote DAYTON.

"For a Republican party that is re-acquainting itself with fiscal prudence, personal liberty and a government that restricts it's influence to what the US Constitution grants it people like "the gang of six" simply do not fit."

Which is to say that, yes, the Republicans are purging moderates.

By the way, Snowe, Collins & Brown weren't up for reelection this year, so citing them as examples of GOP tolerance for moderates is a bit of a stretch.

RE: Myles (#28)

"I can't agree the solution is a third party -- the better solution would be a massive defeat for the extremists in the GOP this Nov., which hopefully would cause the party to re-assess itself and turn back to the values it once provided as a positive and moderate voice."

Third parties have not shown to be very stabilizing or productive in other countries, but it seems our 2 party system is broken right now. And, since the extremes are more involved in primaries, neither party seems to focus on the middle.

Here in Minnesota, a win for Horner, or even a very strong showing coupled with a Dayton win, would send a message to the GOP. But who would be there to listen?

On the other side, an Emmer win might send a message to Democrats (again, who would be there to listen) but I'm not sure a Horner win would.

Swift never presents evidence for any of his stances, although he repeatedly claims others must provide it.
Is Minnesota's budget what you call fiscal prudence. More nonsense! Balderdash!

Bill Belanger complaining about legislative gridlock? What a joke. That guy was a major obstacle to passing transportation funding. Good riddance.

@ Bill
I don't think Barry Goldwater, were he still alive, would fit into this party and I'm not sure if David Brooks and George Will still do either.

How depressing that they didn't include a category for "Doubting Republicans" -- those of us who lean towards less intrusive government, but see no sign that the Republicans would do anything at all in that direction. Rather the reverse, with the likelihood of lots of Republican-proposed laws to regulate all kinds of behavior that is none of the government's damn business.

Thomas and Dennis really have nothing to add to the conversation. They are best ignored.

The Republican party is in its last throes. As the Hispanic population grows what do they do? Scream about illegals. As young people become more accepting of their gay peers, (With the acception of Bachmann country: Anoka) what does the party do? Scream about the Gay. Women make up slightly more than half the population, what do the Republicans do? Scream about abortion. Even in cases of incest and rape. That nice Buck fellow in Colorado went so far as to imply to a rape victim that she deserved it, on tape yet. The accused confessed and he would still not prosecute. Now they are losing the old folks too? Soon there their only constituency unhappy middle aged men like the two yahoos that post here. Time and demograhics are against them.

Amen, Richard.

Full disclosure: I am a left winger and a pointy headed intellectual. But one who has had to work hard - as a bus-boy, dishwasher, and factory worker - to get here.

I have great respect for people with whom I disagree who have philosophically consistent principles, a stellar example being Mr. Goldwater. As you point out, if you want to minimize the involvement of the government in people's lives, you should not interfere in their personal lives because it offends your sense of morality. As long as they are not hurting anyone else, butt out.

Some of the most moral people I know are gays and lesbians, and some of the most immoral call themselves Christians. We should all remember that homosexuals were high on the list of Nazi targets, because they were supposedly degenerates...

What is gong on in the GOP is truly disturbing. I hope that some fundamental changes are made, and soon, so that we may return to a real two party system. One where voters have a real choice and legislation can be passed in a bipartisan fashion, rather than in a tong war.

There are plenty of smart, accomplished Republicans out there (more so in state government than in congress). Palin, Limbaugh and the blowhards on Fox need to stop being the face of the party. The next successful leader will disdain the populists. I'm not at all certain that we can see that leader now, and I have strong doubts that the Republicans will put up a strong ticket in 2012, but the policy makers and ambitious young politicians need to start remaking the image of Republicans by presenting smart policies for limited government now.

How fun it is to read all the comments from concerned citizens who cannot wait to advise the Republican Party. I guess I'd advise Richard and everyone to see what the Democrats have done to our country and our state. In only TWO YEARS! Nobody wants to invest any money, no small business wants to take the chance on ANYTHING because of the threat of Big Bro mandates and/or taxes on this and that. Remember, Richard? or do you forget?

Ah, yes... D.W. Keep drinking that koolaide! That way you can imagine that the eight years of Bushco never existed, that the world skipped directly from the first two years of Clinton to the first two years of Obama, and that Democrats are responsible for what Wall Street, the investment bankers, government deregulation and the inability of Bushco to effectively and efficiently manage ANYTHING have wrought, all of which are the real causes for the maladies you identify.

See, it's not really koolaide. The people who kicked the habit after realizing that they were addicted to the magical, morphine, cocaine, alcoholol-laced elixer they bought from the traveling medicine show used to call it "snake oil," after they sobered up, but it sure makes you feel good while you're drinking it!

Dear Dave, – let’s just take one point you raise to see your confusion - the deficit.

The deficit has become an electioneering football because it sounds scary and easy to flog to the voters. You follow the same path, raising the deficit as an issue but not dealing with the surrounding issues. The world is in recovery from what could be seen as an excess of capitalism. Addressing the deficit now either by cutting government spending or increasing taxes could potentially stall the recovery.

Cutting taxes, now there’s a winning idea, might increase growth, but the benefits would undoubtedly go to the wealthy and into longer-term investment, but with minimal impact on the immediate recovery.

How about a tax cut for the middle-income range. That would get into the economy immediately; those folks are on the edge now and can’t really afford to save. Who do you think is unemployed and whose houses are being foreclosed? But that would be opposed by business-friendly politicians and the idea would be dead aborning.

The U.S. has done a lot pretty dumb stuff: engaging in two very expensive wars on the cuff, playing around with tax cuts while watching it's deficit bloom, and playing silly buggers by trying to appease both business interests and voters, etc. The responsibility for the current mess lies with both the Republicans and Democrats. Now you want a president to fix a mess, years in development, in a year and a half. Where is the logic in that?

In conclusion, the modern republican party is trying to become this nation's primary conservative party, and for good reason. According to Gallup, twice as many people in this country are self-described conservatives than are self-described liberals.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/120857/Conservatives-Single-Largest-Ideologic...

And that poll was a year ago so I'm sure it's even more lopsided now. The point being, it's about time conservatives had their own party.

In the 1970s, Republicans in Minnesota changed their name to the Independent Republican Party to distance themselves from the policies and actions of Richard Nixon.

Today's ultra-right politicians who seem to have taken over the party should, to be honest, change their name to reflect their anti-government/anti-worker/anti-tax/anti-everything that could conceivably help the poor instead of the rich need a new name.

And "Conservative" is not a good fit. It comes from the verb "to conserve" -- to preserve what is good for democracy and what serves the public good.

Dwight Eisenhower -- he who created the interstate highway system (yarrgh say today's Conservatives - "socialism") and who favored feeding hungry children over letting a symbiotic Department of Defense relationship with weapons makers fully develop -- was a true small-c conservative (yarrgh - feeding the poor means fostering "dependency").

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Elizabeth (2) -- Thank you. Additional live coverage of national committee witness testimony or discussion and floor debates can be seen on C-Span and Minnesota legislative committee and floor debates on public TV's Channel 17 or 2-3.

"Self-described conservativesw"--but I doubgt few would define themselves as swallowing the tea party line (or lines or whatever).
If you want to see how a true conservative party looks and works, check out Ruth Marcus's column; it appeared in the Star Tribune this a.m. (the 14th).
It seems to me if you can't accept some of the basic ideas of political work, such as working well with others, compromising when needed, and basic civility, you should look elsewhere for a vocation, avocation, or whatever. Maybe making video games or something.

Actually all this raises another question. Frankly, figuring out what's "wrong" with the Republicans is childs play. A more interesting question is: "What's wrong with the Democrats"? Is anyone asking that question? Is there a Brucato for Democrats?

"Frankly, figuring out what's "wrong" with the Republicans is childs play."

Given the ill informed, obdurate commentary from the left, I'd say we have the right people for the job.

Ginny-

Talk show radio...

"it's about time conservatives had their own party."

And how, exactly, would that differ from the conservative position of Barry Goldwater? He made a pretty good case that a true conservative would stay out of people's bedrooms and not peddle religion on the street corner.

Before you found your own retro- or neo-conservative party, you've got some 'splainin to do.

Just can't leave the divisive social issues alone, can you Bill?

On, and on, and on with what happens in bedrooms and people's religious habits. Sheesh, give it a rest.

Did someone say something about verbigerative commentary?

Say Bill?

Did you know that in addition to suggesting that people keep their bedroom habits to themselves, and their religion in church, Barry Goldwater also voted against the Civil Rights Act?

Yup. In fact, Rand Paul cited Goldwaters position almost verbatim recently...I must have missed your note of approval, which, given your nobel appreciation of philosophically consistent principles must have appeared somewhere.

Right?

Ginny, babe:

Please do not use the term "social justice" when what you really mean is "equal outcomes".

It's just one of my pet peeves.

Swift, you rang up some haymakers here.

Bravo.

Maginnis: your use of "babe" is offensive. This is the 21st century and your comment proves how far women have to go to achieve true equality (and equality fits here).Don't tell me what I mean. I know exactly what I mean. And I don't care if it's a pet peeve or not. You deal with it.

Swift:

I was trying to think up some mottoes for the old conservative party and the neos.

Old: Live and let live

New: Live and let die http://bit.ly/95M0q2

I am really amused that you want so much to blow off divisive social issues. Your remarks in the past about abortion, etc. have not exactly been those of a compassionate conservative.

So Barry Goldwater voted against the civil rights act. So did a lot of others for various reasons. This still doesn't get you out of your little dilemma over his truly conservative positions on things like letting gays live in peace, does it?

This is a typical Swiftian argument - make a lot of noise and point elsewhere... In the immortal words of the Boston Globe: "More mush from the wimp."

G'night, Tom. Hope you have seen the latest polls. See you in November.