Democratic Underground

Ask Auntie Pinko

March 1, 2006
By Auntie Pinko

Dear Auntie Pinko,

I am a proud Conservative, and I have supported George W. Bush for a long time, in spite of doubts about the Iraq War. After all, most leaders make some decisions that seem crazy at the time, but they have information that others don't have, and the view from the top can be different.

I have supported him in spite of doubts about his huge expansion of government size, expense and power, because I really believe that terrorism in the 21st century is a serious threat that needs serious responses.

I have supported him in spite of doubts about the giant deficit and the ballooning national debt, because I think our tax system is so out of control that only drastic, out-of-the-box solutions might restore sanity.

Then he "didn't know" that his own government was turning the management of our ports over to a company owned by the government of the UAE, a nation that recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and laundered money for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. When he "found out," he announced that he'd veto attempts to curtail the deal!

I'm not a liberal and I'll never be one. I'll oppose big government financed by out-of-control taxes, nanny state welfare programs, and the silly idea that we can make the world a better place by wringing our hands and preaching earnest homilies at the UN, until I die. But I'm fed up with Bush! Is there anything I can do, short of joining the Democratic Party, to stop this madness?

Mike N,
Golden, CO

Dear Mike,

It's very disillusioning to see the leaders you elected to uphold certain principles systematically trashing those principles. I'm not surprised that you and many other conservatives are feeling bitter and betrayed.

Not to add insult to injury, Mike, but just to warn you - please bear with me, because I will get to some constructive ideas about "stopping this madness," I promise. But first, I want to discuss the painful subject of Mr. Bush's government approving the transfer of port management contracts to DPW. I've been hearing quite a lot of unhappiness about this from liberals and conservatives, and it's a good news/bad news situation.

I don't like it either, for a whole array of reasons. Dubai Ports World is, first and foremost, a business, and they know perfectly well that they cannot stay in business if there is even the slightest suspicion that their management would pose a security threat to the nations whose ports they manage. I doubt that they'll do anything to jeopardize their business viability, or permit anyone else, even on the basis of religion, to do so. Nor is logistical management of a port's business operations equivalent to security, which (as I understand it) will still be provided by the United States Coast Guard, Customs, etc.

But as you've pointed out, Mike, while the UAE may technically be allied with the United States in a variety of commercial and economic ways, and may be very cooperative with us in foreign policy goals for their region, they are no shining example of the kind of "partners" we should be trusting with something that cuts as close to our sense of national security as port management. In addition to operating an "anything goes" banking system that makes them money launderers of choice to the scum of the earth, their record on democracy in their own nation is appalling, they enable human trafficking and human rights violations of the most disgusting variety, and the people they hang out with (other repressive, sleazy, authoritarian world 'leaders') are hardly the kind of company we want to keep.

At a time when "image" carries such weight in international affairs, the "image" of the United States, worldwide, is already profoundly damaged. While I'm not suggesting that we trim our policy decisions to suit world opinion, I would like to see us making policy decisions that reflect our values, and standing by those decisions. The "Arab Street" (a ridiculous concept, to start with, since there are numerous and contradictory cross-currents of opinion among Middle Eastern Muslims) will not "respect" us just because we choose to do business with the Emirs. When we stand clearly for the principles embodied in our Declaration of Independence and in the Preamble to our Constitution, and when our actions clearly reflect that stance, we will earn respect, even among those who differ with us.

If there is an "upside" to the flap over the DPW affair, it may be in drawing the attention of Americans to the real issues of port security, issues that are much larger and more complex than logistical management. Americans seem to be waking up to the vulnerability of ports, and to how far they are lagging behind airports in having the resources and support to implement reliable security practices. Maybe we'll also start to pay attention to the vulnerability of other installations, too, and make a big enough fuss to get Congress to require adequate oversight of facilities that create, manipulate, and store hazardous materials. Water supply, communications, and key land transport resources, too, are far behind airports in security.

Which brings me by a rather roundabout course back to your question, Mike. What can you do, short of (heaven forbid!) joining the Democratic Party? There's actually a lot you can do. It's not easy stuff, but it shouldn't be outright painful, either. I wouldn't (for example) encourage you to secretly vote for Democrats or even third-party candidates in the upcoming elections. In fact, I wouldn't want you to do anything dissonant with your principles, because they are your real strength in bringing sanity back to your Party.

First, and perhaps most important and effective, you can SPEAK UP. Don't be silent among your fellow Republicans when the discussion gets political. Exactly what you wrote to Auntie Pinko should be an adequate and powerful expression of your frustration and dissatisfaction, and I'm guessing it will excite fellow-feeling in many of your conservative friends. Silence is complicity, and you don't have to be complicit in what Mr. Bush is doing to your Party.

Tell your Republican elected representatives how you feel, too. It means much more coming from you than from Auntie Pinko and her liberal buddies, that's for sure! Demand that they be accountable to you and other conservatives for abandoning the principles you care about and embracing massive government expansion, hyperinflating debt, foreign policy nightmares and the waste of military and security resources in the pointless Iraq War. Tell them that they can keep your support only by demonstrating that they understand and value the things you value.

Finally, get involved with your Party organization. Don't leave it to the corporate lobbyists and the fanatics who believe that staying in power is all that matters. You and other conservatives like you can turn your Party around - it's been done before. It will be hard, because they have the money and the power and the bully pulpit, but you have the voice in the streets and the votes. Take back your Party!

Having given all this advice, I'm having second thoughts now, Mike, because if you and other conservatives like you succeed in reclaiming the Republican Party, it will be a formidable opponent. Restoring Republican credibility and respect will make it that much harder for us liberals to grab back as much power as the Republicans have held for the last six years! But I'll stand by it anyway, because I believe that America is better off with two strong Parties with integrity and the intelligence to take a larger view, even if I disagree strongly with one of them. Best of luck to you and your fellow conservatives, and thanks for asking Auntie Pinko!

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