A Question of Loyalty
October 6, 2004
By Ernest Partridge, The
Senator Lincoln Chafee, Republican from Rhode Island, has decided
not to vote for George Bush in November.
"I'll vote Republican," [Chafee] said, explaining
that he would choose a write-in candidate, perhaps George Bush
the elder, as a symbolic act of protest. Asked if he wanted
Senator John Kerry to be president, Mr. Chafee shook his head
sadly, as if to say he could not entertain the question. "I’ve
been disloyal enough," he said. (New York Times,
October 4, 2004).
With all due respect for Senator Chafee, and that respect is genuine,
I submit that he has not been loyal enough.
It all depends upon what the Senator regards as the supreme object
of his loyalty. To Chafee, it is apparently the Republican party.
But that party is not the entity to which he swore allegiance when
he took his oath of office. At that time he, and all his Senate
and House colleagues, swore allegiance to the United States of America
and its Constitution. And that allegiance requires much more of
Lincoln Chafee and others who claim loyalty to the Republican party.
For today, institutions and moral principles cherished throughout
our history and held in common today by a majority of Americans
- Democrats, Republicans and Independents - are being threatened,
not by a foreign invader, but by a radical faction that has seized
control of our government and our media.
The shared prosperity of the American people is being undone by
a few greedy plutocrats who now effectively control the Republican
party. These individuals have caused the honor and reputation of
the American Republic in the world community to sink to an all-time
We are at a crossroad in history, one road leads to disaster and
the other to restoration and renewal. Neither road is in any way
defined by the traditional political differences between Republicans
We must now look down that dreadful road, before we travel on.
For there we find:
- Federal bankruptcy, the end of public services including Social
Security and Medicare, and an impoverishment of the public schools.
- With the decline of our educational institutions, an end
of American leadership in science and technology – both the
wellsprings of prosperity in an industrial economy.
- International isolation, as the United States continues to
become an international outlaw, initiating wars at times of
its choosing, and violating treaties at its convenience.
- A loss of media independence and diversity – "the fourth
estate," recognized by our founders as indispensable to
a free society.
- A loss of civil liberties and the Constitutional guarantees
of free press, speech, assembly and religion. A violation of
the rights of fair trial, access to counsel, habeas corpus.
- An endless "war on terrorism" legitimizing the
erosion of these liberties and the abrogation of the Bill of
Rights, and furthermore requiring a permanent draft.
- Class warfare, as national wealth flows from the producers
of that wealth to the very few who own and control the wealth.
- The privatization of the technology and tallying of voting
– in effect, an end of the citizen franchise and the "consent
of the governed."
- Environmental devastation and economic collapse, as petroleum
reserves are exhausted with no national provision made for transition
to a post-petroleum energy source. (See my "The
This is our future unless, together and regardless of our habitual
party preferences, we unite and throw out of national office, those
individuals who, due to dogmatism, ignorance or the myopia of greed,
fail to recognize or feel obliged to lead us away from these perils.
The challenge transcends party. The Republican Party of Lincoln
Chafee's father, Senator John Chafee, is no more. It has been succeeded
by a gang of theocrats, oligarchs, and empire-builders who retain,
from the Republican Party of old, little more than the name "Republican."
(See my "Letter
to a Republican Friend").
The Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower, Earl Warren and Nelson
Rockefeller stood for fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets,
limited government, opportunity for small business entrepreneurs,
citizen autonomy, defense of the US Constitution and its Bill of
Rights, and international law and order. These principles have been
abandoned in practice by the Republican party of today.
Nonetheless, with the entire political spectrum having shifted
sharply to the right, there now exists a political organization
that upholds and defends these principles of moderate Republicanism.
It is called the Democratic Party.
So what motivates a moderate Republican or an authentic conservative
to vote for George Bush and Dick Cheney? What, other than habit
and the names, "Republican" and "conservative?"
In a generation, the words "Republican" and "conservative" ("liberal"
too, for that matter), once a guide to intelligent political discourse,
have become weapons in the hands of greedy and power-hungry opportunists
– a Newspeak devised by PR wizards who have treated George Orwell's
1984 not as a warning but as a guidebook.
Thus we are now on a precipice of history, and if we are to draw
back and escape catastrophe, Americans of all religious creeds and
political persuasions must pause, contemplate the morally legitimate
objects of their loyalty, and then follow the demands of that loyalty
as they vote to protect their Constitution, preserve the rights
and liberties of all citizens, demand a just distribution of the
nation’s wealth, and restore the honor of their country among the
community of nations.
There are a few key individuals who could, by themselves, take
a principled stand and favorably change the course of history. Colin
Powell and John McCain come to mind. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely
that they will do so.
And so it is up to the rest of us to do so – powerless as individuals,
but together an irresistible force.
Several significant organizations and individuals have done so
already. Among them:
And many more, too numerous to mention.
And yet, the election contest remains close. If there is to be
a favorable outcome, the current of dissent and opposition must
become a flood.
Daniel Ellsberg, John Dean, Sibel Edmonds, Colleen Rowley, Karen
Kwiatkowski and other "whistleblowers" have demanded that
still more patriots, within and outside of the government, who are
in possession of crucial information, come forth and expose the
corruption and malfeasance of this most secretive Administration.
It is also past time for a few prominent journalists to rip open
the media curtain, and let the light of truth at last shine forth.
Many media celebrities have become independently wealthy through
their careers. Now it is payback time. Where are the I. F. Stones,
Ed Murrows and Walter Cronkites of our age? Will they be heard in
the month that remains?
The time is short. But with the example of Lincoln Chafee, and
other newly-dissenting Republicans such as Chuck Hagel, Richard
Lugar, Doug Bereuter, and former Republicans such as Arianna Huffington,
John Dean, Jim Jeffords and Kevin Phillips, the demands of duty
and loyalty become ever more compelling.
In a mere month, the current of dissent and defection must become
a flood, if the usurpers of our liberties, the thieves of our national
treasure, and the despoilers of our national honor are to be swept
from their ill-gotten offices.
For after November 2, it will be too late, for then we may all
be embarked upon the road to disaster from which there will be no
return in our lifetimes - if ever.
Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in
the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes
the website The
Online Gadfly and co-edits the progressive website The