A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No Room For Diversity

Last week the Senate Republicans launched a filibuster against Chuck Hagel (a Republican) becoming the next Secretary of Defense. And on Thursday, they voted to uphold that filibuster. It marks the first time in this nation's history that a president's choice for Secretary of Defense has been filibustered.

One of the reasons the filibuster was upheld was because Senator McCain (R-Arizona) broke his word. He had said that he would not support a filibuster of Hagel's nomination -- but when push came to shove, McCain voted to sustain the filibuster. The Senate is not in session this week, but it is still expected that Hagel will be approved when they meet again. The filibuster just makes them look small-minded, and they know it.

This ridiculous filibuster has proven two things. First, John McCain is no longer the "maverick" that he once claimed to be. He moved to the right in his run for the presidency in 2008. And he moved even further to the right when he ran for re-election in 2010. Now he is indistinguishable from the other right-wing extremists in the current congressional GOP.

The second, and more important, thing the filibuster proves is that there is no room for diversity in the GOP -- especially diversity of ideas. This filibuster had only one purpose -- to punish Chuck Hagel for not drinking the red kool-aid. Hagel, while still in the Senate, had called President Bush perhaps the "worst president ever", and condemned the invasion of Iraq and the "surge" of more troops in that nation. He also recently apologized for his opposition to same-sex marriage in the past.

Now Hagel is certainly no liberal. He adheres to the conservative economic policies of the Republican Party. But he doesn't support the war-loving neocons in the party or the bigoted social conservatives. And that makes him anathema to the teabaggers and fundamentalists that currently control the Republican Party. There is simply no room in the modern Republican Party for anyone who doesn't accept ALL of the extremist right-wing views, and the filibuster was an effort to make that clear -- both to Hagel and to anyone else in the party who might consider thinking for themselves.

The Republicans have said they want to reach out to include more people in the party. They think they can do this by just softening their rhetoric while keeping their extremist policies. That isn't going to work. The only way to increase the size of their "political tent" is to allow more diversity of thought in the party. They need to allow people to think for themselves, and come up with new policies that the general public will find more acceptable. This filibuster has shown they are not yet willing to do that.

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