Romney Wins, Snowe Quits!


Sen. Olympia Snowe ... she's tired of congressional bickering

By Bob Gaydos

Having managed to insult and offend, in no particular order, women, immigrants, gays, union members, middle-class workers, college students and John F. Kennedy, the Republican presidential primary circus left Michigan and Arizona behind as it trudged on its dreary way with its sights set on Ohio and Tennessee and, ultimately, New York. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

After a scare in which it seemed for a while that he would actually lose the state in which he was born and his father served as governor, Mitt Romney barely prevailed in Michigan. Enough GOP voters there held their noses and voted for the I-can’t help-reminding-you-I’m-rich Romney rather than the God-is-on-my-side Satan-fighter Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich continued to eat the furniture, but nobody paid much attention and Ron Paul was still a man without a century.

It’s enough to make a sensible, savvy, lifetime Republican politician proclaim, “Enough! I quit!”

Which is what 33-year veteran Maine Senator Olympia Snowe did while her fellow Republicans were still voting in Michigan and Arizona. One of the very few voices of Republican bipartisanship in Congress, Snowe said in a press release: “Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate.”

True, that statement does not specifically target her own party, but as one of the few remaining Republican moderates in Congress, she knows full well the dangerous turn towards the cliff that her party has taken. Snowe was the only Republican in the Senate to vote in favor of President Obama’s health care reform plan. Her vote helped get it out of committee to the floor for a vote. But she was the subject of such intense pressure and threats from the vocal rightwing fringe that has dominated the GOP of late, she voted against the plan on its final vote.

That doesn’t mean she forgot what happened. I have felt for some time that moderate Republicans — the kind once referred to in New York as Rockefeller Republicans — were in need of a new party, They have let the loonies usurp their party, its platform and its principles, forgoing the “compassionate conservatism” it once promoted for one that chastises the poor and rewards the rich, that emphasizes prayer and denigrates education, that discourages contraception and rails at food stamps, that celebrates only its narrow version of marriage, wants everyone who speaks a language other than English to go back where they came from and, far too often, acts as if it wishes women like Snowe would know their proper place in society. That would not be in the U.S. Senate or in a military uniform, or probably not even doing scientific research in a major university for that matter.

There really is no place in today’s Republican Party for the likes of Snowe or her Maine Senate colleague, Susan Collins, also a Republican. It’s time for a third party, perhaps made up of disgruntled centrists from both parties — Democrats have their partisan zealots as well — that, unlike the Libertarians who idolize Ron Paul, could actually govern in the 21st Century.

In fact, as I was trying to focus my own thoughts on this issue, I discovered that Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine had already gotten there. In his Daily Intel blog commenting on Snowe’s retirement, he noted the specific nature of her statement. In particular, this: “As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.”

Chait speculates Snow may be thinking of joining Americans Elect, a third party claiming many disaffected Republicans and Democrats, dedicated to avoiding partisanship and offering a civil form of governing, probably slightly more conservative than Obama’s. The party’s rules go so far as to require its presidential and vice presidential candidates to come from different parties.

Too idealistic, too wacky to succeed? Once upon a time, that’s what they said about the men who created a new party made up of those tired of the rabid pro- and anti-slavery rhetoric that dominated the day. That Republican Party has now badly lost its way. Snowe and others who agree with her should let the tea partiers and evangelists and assorted know-nothings do with the GOP as they will. Start a new party. And don’t make your constituents hold their noses to vote.

Tags: , , , , ,

3 Responses to “Romney Wins, Snowe Quits!”

  1. Marshall Rubin Says:

    Even the term, “Republican moderate” is not what it used to be. Today, a moderate is one who votes with the G.O.P. only 95% of the time, and Olypia Snowe is no exception.
    She is no compromiser. When she announced her retirement she blamed the highly partisan nature of the Senate for her upcoming departure. In actuality the REPUBLICANS alone have been the rigid partisans. THEY announced early that their #1 goal was to get rid of Obama. Through either the filibuster, or the threat of one THEY brought needed legislation to a halt.

    If Snowe were actually a moderate she would have assessed the blame for gridlock where it belongs–on the Reublican Party, and NOT the Senate as a whole. With “moderates” like Snowe, who needs conservatives?

  2. David Garmendia Says:

    I am done with both corrupt misguided major parties!

    I am writing my name in for President for the rest of my life. Put a fork in me and mustard and sauerkraught on me!

  3. Jim Gilbert Says:

    Hi Bob,
    Thanks for a great description of current Republican leadership. I particularly liked Newt as a furniture eater and Ron Paul as a man without a century. The fact that some people actually vote for these fools is mind boggling. As a lifetime lefty I never thought that I would miss Everett Dirkson, Bob Dole or Gerry Ford. Truth be told however, I don’t think that I ever doubted that these guys were decent men. But I do have serious reservations concerning the capacity for moral judgment in Santorum, Gingrich, Romney, Bachman, Palin, Perry, and most of the Republican so called “base”. Just look at some of the popular Republican initiatives: outlaw collective bargaining, deport twelve million undocumented workers, eliminate the minimum wage, establish permanent tax loopholes and tax breaks for the super rich, deny women access to contraception and health care, promote easy access to gun ownership, etc. etc. etc.
    In reference to your point of “disgruntled centrists from both parties”, where is the Democratic equivalent? In spite of my considered respect for your political insight I must take issue with your belief that “Democrats have their partisan zealots too” How is the zealotry of the Democratic Party expressed? Is it in such extremism as asking rich people to pay taxes or in regulating polluters or in establishing a slightly higher minimum wage or in promoting rules that would stop banks from illegally taking peoples homes or in preventing loan sharks (pay-day lenders) from fleecing money from working people or in attempting to maintain voting rights for African Americans and young people? Most of these “extreme” positions have not been very successful. Perhaps because the Democratic Party is critically beholden to the same corporate forces that the Republicans are married to. This situation of government on corporate terms greatly reduces the effectiveness of Democrats in representing the interests of working people. While I agree that there is a need for a centrist split off from the Republican Party that could include conservative Democrats, I do not believe that this expansion of centrist ideology would produce little more than a dent in the political imbalance that exists in America today.
    The United States of America is the richest country in the world. Yet we are woefully behind most if not all industrialized countries in quality of life factors such as health care, wages, and benefits. We are also the only industrial country that does not have a Labor party that specifically addresses the interests of working people. There are several reasons for this, institutionalized racism not being the least. Andrew Hacker eloquently argues that corporate interests have used race as a buffer in dividing the working class for centuries. (See Hacker, A.” Two Nations – Black and White, Separate, Hostile and Unequal”). A glaring example of this is the origins of the Reagan Democrats. Ronald Reagan began his ascension to the presidency in Philadelphia Mississippi, a pivotal bastion of the Ku Klux Klan. In addressing a group of white citizens, he peppered his speech with racially charged euphemisms such as welfare queens, inner city crime and states rights. Since that speech and his subsequent election to the presidency an anti-working class climate gained momentum as it resulted in stagnated wages, the deterioration of benefits, the destruction of Unions and the subsequent decrease in Union membership while the rich got richer
    With Republicans demanding more of the same and the Democrats historic inability to stop them, Labor needs to step in with a national political party of its own.
    Jim Gilbert

Leave a Reply