19

The reasonable and orderly ATTACK OF THE MODERATES!

Well, this was an interesting week. Seven days ago I quickly scribbled a thing about the Republican Party abandoning a demographic it claimed to represent, and it seems that millions of people are looking forward to discussing the implications. At press time, the traffic for the blog post is more than half a million, with more than 125,000 Facebook shares. And growing.

Dude. I am still stunned.

Anyhow, I really want to tell you about the amazing part – the hundreds and thousands of people who have been pouring out their life’s stories to me, their feelings, their beliefs, their hopes for the future. What follows may surprise you since it is not the narrative you see in any of the political media out there. Here is the breakdown of people writing me:

People celebrating an attack on the right wing: 2 – Seriously, only a couple people have written to say WE GOT THAT SUCKER ROMNEY! DEMOCRATS RULE, REPUBLICANS DROOL! I expected many more.

People calling me names: 100 – Amusingly and unsurprisingly, many Republicans are ringing in to say, “YER NOT A REAL REPUBLICAN, YER A LIBRUL, AND YOU SUCK, HYPOCRITE, LIAR, HAVE INTIMATE RELATIONS WITH YOUR PETS, ETC.” The whole point of the thing was that Republicans have defined themselves by such extreme viewpoints that they are losing key constituencies, even the ones they claim represent their party – traditional Americans, if you will. And then people take the time to say YOUR (sic) NOT ONE OF US!!! I know, dude. That’s the point, and also why you lost on Tuesday. And please use spell check.

Moderates glad to hear a voice for moderation: 1000 and counting! 

THIS IS THE REAL STORY, AND IT IS AWESOME. People from all across America are writing me and telling me the most amazing things:

  • I thought I was alone! I didn’t think there was a voice for moderates any more.
  • I used to vote Republican, but I just can’t now. I didn’t leave them, they left me.
  • I do not want to fight with my neighbors this way any longer.
  • I run my own business and employ people, but I want everyone to share in prosperity much more than I want to become stinking rich.
  • I want low taxes and a strong military – but I don’t believe the Republicans can deliver either.
  • This the moment for America to come together and move toward a bright future.

People from the South. People from the North. Rancher’s daughters out West and musicians and housewives and ministers and everyone in between. Average age is probably 56! This isn’t just “the kids” looking to break rank with the status quo, I’m seeing people who have been watching the political morass for decades and gave up hope – yet still see a way forward.

But don’t believe me. Read them in their own words. This man was born to a family that appreciated moderation and doesn’t want to abandon it:

I came from a family of FDR and Truman Democrats from Jackson County, Missouri.  My parents were fiscally conservative and socially liberal.  I believe that was because we didn’t have much money and my parents always taught all God’s children desire a fair and equal shot at life.  My folks’ friends were Republican, Democrat, Black, White, Gay and Straight.   Education was important to our family and also public service.  My parents were fans of Everett Dirkson (R) of Illinois and Jacob Javits (R) of New York along with Scoop Jackson (D) of Washington and JFK.   I believe there is room in this country to disagree with one another and still be friends.  Compromise is not a dirty word and we deserve more in this Country and World for our children then to fight, degrade and cast fear on our fellow citizens.

And lest you think all Appalachian Republicans are the same:

I am white.  I grew up in rural Appalachia.  My parents were both college educated and held multiple masters’ degrees between them.  They are Republicans.  I was a Republican.  Up until the point where I realized that A) Trickle down economics really doesn’t work and B) Our greatest resource as a country is human capital and we’re not investing in it and C) Religious freedom is great, but so is freedom from religion and D) My body is not a place that anyone else gets to control and E) Allowing same sex marriage is a conservative value and F) As someone who  was divorced after 8 years of marriage and re-married, I am not enough of a hypocrite to judge the sanctity of marriage and G) We’re have a “War on Drugs” since 1981 and it’s gotten us nowhere and H) I make plenty of money and am happy to pay taxes, if it can genuinely help others.

Some people appear to be what would qualify as pretty darn conservative today – but still resonate with what I wrote. After all – very few people fit the strictures of what passes for a modern Republican. Millions have at least a few issues where they differ with the platform.

I read your recent blog entry about the election and I found myself quietly agreeing with much of what you said.  The divorce and gay marriage issue is one I personally can identify with (parents divorced in ’85, best friend is gay, I am married with a daughter, I listen to Mark Levin, vote (R) most of the time).

Some people get to the heart of the matter, the real problem:

I used to vote Republican, in fact when I moved to Florida 27 years ago, the Elections employee actually ‘looked’ at me when I registered as a Republican.  Florida was mainly a Democratic state in 1985. Since that time, the Republican party has lost it’s appeal to me.

A 2 party system is bad, a 1 party system would be worse, I’d love before I die to see a 3 party system.  

Right on – though I am thinking a five party system.

Many people wrote me to share that they too are Americans with ancestry going back to the Old Old Days, people who feel abandoned by the right wing.

You managed to convey everything I feel as well. I too, am a white,  (female) Mayflower descendant (William and Susanna White), a registered Republican, who has been dis-enfranchised by the party – years ago. 

Thank you for putting this well-put piece out there. Hopefully the Pubs will wake up! I would just add one more item to MY credentials; I’m a born again Christian!

One of my favorite quotes was from this guy, whose family came to America “early on” but under, *ahem*, the other kind of circumstances:

Just a note from an educated, hardworking, tax paying, home owning, Masters Degree wife married, well traveled AMERICAN of African decent…Great letter.  I just told a Republican State Senator virtually the same thing to his face yesterday.  I asked that he take a message back to DC.  Please disengage from the crazies.  Yea, my folks got here via boat too, but it was not shall we say a “family decision.” The only thing I have ever wanted is a fair chance.  EVERYTHING my wife and I have is because we worked our asses off for it. 

This here is the BIG question – who will represent moderates? 

I am a 49 year old husband of a beautiful woman who has been my spouse for 28 years.  We have two great children and one grandson, and he runs the show! For the first time in my life I voted as an independent this year.  I had been a republican for years.  I don’t know what direction the GOP is heading, but it has been ruined by fear mongering and in my opinion, hatred.  As a moderate with common sense, who represents me and people like me?

>>>>

I need to stop there – I have hundreds more, each with their own beauty and dignity. I am really grateful to be the steward of so many personal stories.

The values that link all of these personal narratives is: reason, tolerance, respect, balance, and kindness. A respect for the past, an eye toward a better future. Almost no desire to keep this absurd game of contentious binary politics going back and forth like it has in recent years. And most importantly – a recognition that there is an enormous vacuum where political leadership of this sort ought to exist!

Who will step into that vacuum? Who will give a voice to such classic American values? Can this movement happen within the current political structure, or will it be more bottom-up, grassroots?

I’ll do my best. How about you?

Thank you all again for this incredible experience.

Eric GarlandThe reasonable and orderly ATTACK OF THE MODERATES!
  • http://twitter.com/rickmylectum Rick Mylectum

    Book please.

  • Lynn Landry

    I hope you have spawned a movement. I think this has been brewing for some time, but this election was kind of a tipping point. I don’t think you should completely shut down fringe elements. There are often truths behind their fear and fear mongering, but they shouldn’t be allowed to completely dominate the conversation. I’m hoping that all of this has bubbled to the top and will dissapate. Perfectly ok to be more right or left on issues, but to completely drown out any calls for compromise goes against how our system of government was designed. Thank you for eloquently stating what I’ve felt for so long.

    • http://www.ericgarland.co ericgarland

      “I don’t think you should completely shut down fringe elements. There are often truths behind their fear and fear mongering, but they shouldn’t be allowed to completely dominate the conversation.” BOOM! Yes, this.

  • Another former Republican

    What if you think moderates are already represented? There’s plenty of serious analysis out there that concludes Obama has governed to the right of Nixon in many respects.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.t.moody Jennifer Taylor Moody

    Wow, this is wonderful! Apparently there are still some Americans who THINK, rather than explain away all our problems with an ignorant statement of partisan blame. I’m a professional, married, Christian who voted for Gary Johnson, because I’m sick to death of all the extremism. Bipartisan? More like bipolar! I watch in horror as other Christians trade in their faith for the ever more extreme Republican ideologies; Democrats express naively unrealistic expectations given our economic status; politicians act like spoiled brats in need of a spanking; and disgruntled Americans-who have no idea what they’re requesting-sign petitions to secede. Meanwhile, I just want some workable solutions that don’t unilaterally screw over one demographic while blatantly favoring another. How could so many people think that the solution for America’s problems is total domination by the party of their choice? I’m totally in favor of a multi-party system. We need balance.

    • http://www.ericgarland.co ericgarland

      I high-five you across the Internets.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ae-Wehr/1322844727 Ae Wehr

      The idea that Gary Johnson is not an extremist is rather out-there. The libertarian party is simply the worst portion of the republican party (extreme, anarcho-capitalism) distilled to its purest form.

      I’d rather vote republican than libertarian, because they’d pursue their “wedge issues”, get nowhere, and not have the time to institute their extreme and empirically wrong economic platform (which has no room for even public schools).

      A libertarian regime would not have created the FDA when kids were being fed mercury as cough medicine by shady snake-oil salesmen.

  • VeeGee in VT

    Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), a moderate for most of her career, left the US Senate because of the increasingly hostile and radical conditions. While I do not think she showed particular courage in leaving, I do think that when moderate Republican legislators buck their bosses, they need to put out press releases and make a big deal out of it. The press should be looking for this kind of action, too. They shouldn’t have to fear reprisal from their machine, if they do the right thing. I am a Democrat from Vermont and also hope for a 5+ party system.

    • http://www.ericgarland.co ericgarland

      Two words: Jim Jeffords.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.j.gill.7 David J. Gill

        Also, arguably, Arlen Specter. His move to run as a Democrat was opportunistic, in part, and many of his viewpoints and votes were not to my liking, but I think he showed admirable courage putting his convictions and the nations interest ahead of party loyalty (…that may be going too far?) I have long wondered why Olympia Snow did not send a meaningful message about the extremism of her party and become a Democrat or an independent like Jeffords?

  • http://www.larkinhoffman.com/our_people/Michael_Fleming.cfm Michael Fleming

    I’m pretty sure Obama I thought he could play that moderate role described above, but the notion was dispelled to the point of the later rendition, Obama II (The Fighter). Obama II realized that if he was to hold the union together he needed to fight the current version of the Right like it was a war (much like another president had to fight to hold the union together — but, obviously, that other president had it much worse so I’m not going to over-do this similarity thing). In that Obama realized that, I guess I’m ultimately OK, as he really had no choice in the face of his current opponents. But that’s not without thinking we’d lost an opportunity to go center because of the intransigence of the current Right. I doubt that Obama II will be able to fix this enough in the next four years to allow himself to trust and negotiate like we should expect of our political class, but I do hope that this period of the crazies has finally seen its peak and is on its way out.

  • http://twitter.com/ari5000 Mark@ari5000

    This is no surprise. Moderate views don’t make for good television. 47% of Americans (a different subset) LIKE to hate, don’t like to think, and therefore, view the world in black and white. The Rush, Coulter, O’Reilly audience. There is a Republican media machine that promotes extremist ideology. Everyone I talk to is pretty much some kind of moderate. I’m sure millions of Americans that voted for Obama didn’t like Obama all that much. But any person with a shred of intelligence knows Romney was 100x worse. So the choice was obvious. Republicans have allowed the extremists to control their party. I think their core audience/voters are mostly unintelligent, easy to influence, mostly prejudiced, and therefore, unlikely to be swayed to moderation. We’ll just have to put up with their anger as Democrats control the govt. for the next 1000 years. Angry extremeists will always be around. And life will progress while they continue to kick and scream.

    • http://twitter.com/ari5000 Mark@ari5000

      But you know what the genius is of the Fox/Rush propaganda machine is? Extremist Republicans don’t believe they’re extreme at all. Ever.

  • former democrat

    Right on! I voted third party in this election and I wish more would have done the same!

  • Fake Herzog

    Eric,

    I responded to your letter with my own letter back to you here:

    http://imnotherzog.wordpress.com/2012/11/20/time-to-pretend-im-a-future-republican-strategist

    Looking forward to your ‘reasonable’ response ;-)

  • Tommy Young

    Being responsible for one self is the key factor always being over looked.

    They blame government for not protecting us from the evil bankers who ” made them ” take out loads for homes they could not afford. Governmet warns us not to eat fatty foods , yet we do, government warns us not to do drugs yet we, government warns us not to smoke yet we do. If the government set strict guidlines and required income verification , these same people would have been complaining that they are being kept out of the market by an unfair banking system.

    The real reason behind it ” greed ” on part of many of the buyers. Many of whom are the ones most vocal since the housing boom complaining about the evil bankers.

    Student loans , you take out a loan of free will. You owe it, not the tax payer. If college coast too much perhaps teachers/professors need to ” give back ” and lower their salaries. Or perhaps the government should step in and decide how much loan you can have based on your decision of what your major is.

    Many government workers , ( including ALL the politicians ) retire early and the private sector is then footing the bill through taxes. If the government pensions and health benefits are good and people deserve them then why doesn’t everyone get them. Perhaps because we need the others to pay for them. Private sector people work longer and get paid less then public sector workers.

    I hear many politicians talk about how hard the American people work. Fact is the work ethic is down , way down. Too many looking for the easy path. We have become the everyone gets a trophy society. It’s all about the snack the kids need after an hour or two of play.

    America is getting fat. Just like the food we eat, we deny the truth, and why it happens. Until Americans become honest with themselfs and stop looking for someone else to blame for their ills we will continue to decline.

    • OogieWaWa

      Oh, bullpucky on the work ethic lowering. Sure, there are examples otherwise, but everyone I know that isn’t working would like to, and would be good at doing something. But the jobs have all been sold out, they’re gone. Plus I work with a lot of younger people coming into the workforce, and I KNOW that most of the young adults in this new generation will be as good or better than ours. Same old blame game, but it doesn’t cut it in the real world.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ae-Wehr/1322844727 Ae Wehr

      “Student loans , you take out a loan of free will.”

      I suppose I’m just not supposed to go to school then? Maybe I can mow lawns the rest of my life? Maybe I can live in a cave?

      A college degree has been transformed by rapacious and unchecked abuse of the student lending system under bush (and not yet fixed under Obama) into a ransom that is paid for the ability just to break even. Without one you don’t get a job, with one you no longer enjoy the fruits of success because your loan bills are as high as bay-area rent.

      I could buy a car for cash for the amount of money I pay per year on my loans (3x as much per month as my 10-year seniors in the industry who took out their loans in the Clinton era)… a decade ago 70% of that money would have gone into a savings account for down payment on a home. I have written off the idea of buying a house (and thus the idea of having kids), and I work in silicon valley!

      Without federal intervention through carefully crafted, economically and fiscally realistic policies to push tuition lower and lessen the burden of student loans, generation Y is quickly becoming “the lost generation”.

      Please get real here. I followed the rules, graduated top 10 in my class, worked a double major, now work 60 hour weeks in a high demand field, and thanks to the bush administration and the failure of the government to implement proper policy, I am forced to live in the ghetto and hand over the majority of my skill -premium to the banks that destroyed our economy.

      This is fundamentally unjust and a sign of incompetent governance.

  • Winston Shaw

    Do yourself – and the rest of us – a huge favor. Publish the letters as a book! If you can’t find a regular publisher to do it, then explore the self publishing options. But whatever you do don’t waste the creative energy force that exists in the responses to your original post!