I opened the first pages of The Reluctant Republican expecting a rather dry slog through a local political process and found instead a gritty and hilarious tale of one woman's trek on the campaign trail. Full of anecdotes, the book provides a window into what proved to be my own awakening to the disillusioning and unglamorous gauntlet through which a candidate must run for office.
Yesterday, I participated in a call in with the Republican Congressmen from Florida, District 1, Jeff Miller. Let me say, by way of caveat that I was not able to stay until the end. Several things concerned me during the call, and although there was a mechanism to ask questions or comment, time did not allow me to do so.
First, the call seemed more to soothe constituents about the government shutdown and how it was not the fault of the Republican Party than to answer questions. Secondly, there really seems to be a lot of disinformation about the Affordable Care Act, ACA, also known as Obama Care. It is my opinion that our politicians should put honesty and truthfulness over partisan politics.
An elderly gentleman called in from Crestview, and was very concerned about the fact that ObamaCare was covering illegal aliens, and that "our tax dollars was going to pay for that." Congressman Miller did not address this statement directly, and certainly left the impression that this gentleman's concerns were valid and was part of the reason for the GOP fight over this legislation.
I am not a supported of the AFA, and if you have read my book, "The Reluctant Republican" you know that it is one of the reasons I ran for Congress in Florida District 2. There are many problems with it that must be fixed for this to become an effective law. But it is intellectually dishonest to suggest, as Senators Cruz and Rand did last week, things in the bill that are inaccurate.
In fact, Obamacare explicitly denies insurance coverage to illegal immigrants in Section 1312 (f)(3):
Access limited to lawful residents. If an individual is not, or is not reasonably expected to be for the entire period for which enrollment is sought, a citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully present in the United States, the individual shall not be treated as a qualified individual and may not be covered under a qualified health plan in the individual market that is offered through an Exchange.
Congressman Miller could have told the caller he was incorrect in his understanding, but he did not.
Secondly, Congressman Miller never addressed-while I was on the phone-the futility of the Republican position to defund ObamaCare. The GOP does not hold a majority in the Senate, with 52 Democrats and 46 Republicans.
Even if the Senate could pass such a bill, President Obama would veto it, thereby sending it back to Congress under Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, which says, in pertain parts...
"...the President...approves...but if not, shall return it...to that house in which it shall have originated. to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration, two=thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections [of President] to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of that house, it shall become a law."
Republicans have a majority of 232 Members to 200 Democratic Members in the House. So to override a Presidential veto, one would have to have the votes of a super majority, of two-thirds of each house. In the House of Representatives, that would mean approximately 287 votes, or convincing 55 Democrats to vote against their President. In the Senate, such a vote would require 67 votes, or 18 Senators to vote with Republicans.
Let's see, assuming the accuracy of these numbers, that would make a total of 73 members of Congress needed to overturn a Presidential veto. And despite the hard cold facts of this unlikely event, in a telephone poll taken yesterday on this call, 66% thought it was a good idea to shut down the government to "try to reign in government spending." Only 34% thought a government shutdown a bad strategy.
I honestly don't think most voters have all the facts needed to make the necessary decisions about these issues. Many don't have-or take-the time to look up information, or fact check to see what is true. And as a result, many rely on their politicians to tell them the truth. But most politicians today are more concerned about being re-elected than telling voters the truth.
It's the reason moderates and centrists are needed now, more than ever. It is possible to not like a law, and be truthful about what it contains. It is possible to not want to fund bad legislation, and also realize the mathematical futility in attempting to do so. In other words, despite political parties or personal beliefs, there can be honesty and truthfulness in the dialogue. And if that happens, we might get a little closer to the center, which is usually where the truth lies.
What happens when an attractive, articulate, intelligent Southern gal decides to run for Congress in a Florida Republican primary against four male Tea Party candidates? Barbara Olschner, an idealistic, conservative trial attorney and former tennis pro, tells what it’s like to discover she wasn’t either ideologically pure or doctrinally sound –and, besides, she was way too highly-educated for the GOP voters of the Florida Panhandle.
The author shares an up-close-and-personal look into the Tea Party phenomenon which dominates Republican primaries in many states, often with dire results for the party and the nation. In a style that is sharp, clear and highly-readable, Olschner describes the daily struggles with opponents who eschew complex issues, preferring stock answers and scripted replies.
Nancy Reagan once urged teenagers to “Just Say No” to drugs. For the Tea Party this maxim is the lens through which all issues are viewed: there is no compromise, no middle ground; it is “our way or the highway.” Schooled in the law as a problem-solver, the author offered the voters a voice of reason and rational discourse, the exhausting race revealed all too clearly that such matters were not welcomed. When her conscience demanded an honest answer, not doctrinaire talking points, she is variously vilified as a RINO (Republican In Name Only), a liberal, or a high-brow lawyer (read ‘elitist’) who was “too smart to go to Congress.” Yet she battled gamely to an exhausting finish: last in a field of five.
Henry Clay, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, justly earned the title of “The Great Compromiser.” Clay and his greatest admirer, Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, couldn’t win a GOP primary dominated by today’s Tea Party. Unless, of course, the Republican Party eventually recognizes that primary wins are Pyrrhic victories when the party is trampled in a presidential election. Just being ‘more conservative’ just won’t ‘cut it’ any longer.
‘The Reluctant Republican’ is a must read not only for Republicans but conservatives who agree with President Dwight Eisenhower that the middle of the road is the best place to be since dangers lie in the rough shoulders, whether right or left.
There is a cloud forming in the distance. It's a gathering of moderate and centrist Republicans, tired of being related to the back seat by a wildly out of countrol Party being driven by a right wing with an unyielding ideology. In the coming days, the launching of Puple Moderates and how you can be involved.
June 27, 2013
The GOP is spending $10,000,000 on its “Outreach” program, trying to reach out to the groups that did not support them in the last Presidential election. You know, the women, the blacks, the Hispanics, and those under 30 years old. OK, pretty much everyone except white men over 30.
Although it is clear that the GOP needs to do substantive work on its image, I personally think outreach within the Party is needed first. There is a monumental schism in the GOP between the far right whackos and wingnuts and those that are best described as moderates or centrists. As Abraham Lincoln pointed out in his unsuccessful campaign for the Senate, “A house divided against itself cannot stand...I will become all one thing or the other.”
As I discovered when I ran for Congress in the Florida panhandle in 2010, you'd better "Go right or go home." As a moderate, pragmatic Republican, I did not think it was feasible or warranted to "bus back the Mexicans," "blow up the Mosque at Ground Zero," or "impeach President Obama." To the majority of voters in my district, I quickly became a traitor to the Party by not aligning myself with the far right's radical views that defied logic, reason, or Constitutional authority. The book I authored as a result of that experience is entitled, "The Reluctant Republican: My Fight for the Moderate Majority," published by The University Press of Florida, March 2013.
Fast forward three years, and what has really changed in the party? Nothing. The far right continues to beat its drum on issues that attract its own base and repels everyone else.
This month the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) released its survey on under-29-year-old registered voters, and it is clear these young people do not think like the right wing base of the GOP. In fact, they view the GOP as largely racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, elitist, and insensitive. Here is one of the findings:
4. End the attacks on women’s reproductive health.
“[T]he issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception. In the words of one female participant in our Hispanic voter focus group in Orlando, “I think Romney wanted to cut Planned Parenthood. And he supports policies where it would make it harder for a woman to get an abortion should she choose, even if it were medically necessary. That goes hand in hand with redefining rape.”
Michael Burgess this week joins an ignominious line of Republican legislators with unbelievably offensive comments about abortion. His statements to support the recent bill to limit abortions to the first 20 weeks after conception, because sonograms show “male fetus with their hands between their legs” meaning to Rep. Burgess they are “experiencing pleasure.”
This Republican litany on abortion by former and current members of Congress is nothing short of appalling, Todd Akin, thought that rape should not be an exception to abortion because “legitimate rape cause a woman’s body to shut that whole thing down.” Richard Murdock, finding it “God’s intent “ that rape occurs. Joe Walsh discounts “the health of the mother” exception, because of improvements in medical science. Phil Gingrey, Representative from Georgia, stating that, well, women lie about being raped. He found “nothing horrible” about Akin’s statement about “legitimate rape.”
This pattern of attacking women’s integrity, the science of biology and reproduction, to discount the exception of “rape, incest or health of the other” is an attack on women. I am all in favor of different viewpoints on issues, and find that a freedom under the First Amendment. Those that are against abortion for any reason have the right to their opinion. They don’t have the right to make up facts, evidence, support bizarre theories, and attack the integrity of others in order to try and make their views credible.
Let me be blunt: a bunch of gentrified white men espousing on women's reproduction, issuing offensively stupid and patronizing statements that can only be described as idiotic does not play well with many in this country, including women, who, by the way, are the majority of voters in this country. And, it needs to stop.
My first suggestion is for Reince Preibus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee to send the following memo:
To: All Male Members of Congress
Re: Anti-abortion Issue
SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP NOW!
You are killing our chances to win in 2016!
Regarding abortion, please only say one of the following:
- “I am anti abortion, no exceptions.”
- “I am anti-abortion, some exceptions.”
- “I am pro choice.” (Probably not many of these.)
No explanations, no discussions on anything scientific, and please let’s not mention that the male of our species masturbate in the womb.
My sincere suggestion-not that I don’t think the above is a good idea- is that the GOP spends some of its allocated $10,000,000 to tutor its members in Congress on issues of science, logic and reasoning, or, in the alternative, some sort of aversion therapy for stupidity.
I can see only one downside to this suggestion:
It will take a heck of a lot more than $10,000,000.
U. Press of Florida, ©2013 141 p. $24.95 F316 978-0-8130-4453-8
The reluctant Republican; my fight for the moderate majority.
Olschner, Barbara F.
Barbara Olschner, a veteran courtroom lawyer, describes herself as a moderate, or 'Purple,'
Republican who believes in fiscal conservancy yet sides with liberal social policies. In this well-written
insider perspective on American politics and the state of the Republican Party, she describes the
painful lessons of her unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2010 in Florida. Condemned by other
Republicans for her moderate views and her education, Olschner learned that the political rules of
engagement do not reward those who speak the truth and that fringe elements are in control of politics.
She criticizes the Republican Party's intolerance, rigid ideology, bigotry, and resistance to
compromise, concluding that current politics is about pandering for votes and money. The book is
illustrated with b&w photos and posters. (Annotation ©2013 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)