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For Me, the Party Is Over

Posted by: Audiegrl

Op-ed by Michael Smerconish

Michael Smerconish, Columnist, Radio Host

Michael Smerconish, Columnist, Radio Host

It took only the single tap of a computer key, and just like that I’d exited the Republican Party after 30 years of active membership. The context might sound impulsive, but I’d been thinking of becoming an independent for a long time. I just hadn’t expected that a trip to renew my driver’s license would mark the end.

Just before my photo was snapped, I was asked if I wanted to register to vote. For me, the question was borderline offensive. I first registered after turning 18 in the spring of 1980 and haven’t missed an election since. And I’m not just talking presidential races. I mean all elections. Congress, town council, school board, whatever.

I’m already registered,” I offered. Next came the unexpected question of whether I wished to change my political affiliation. I’m not sure why that is asked of someone renewing a driver’s license, and I question whether it is even appropriate for most. But in my case, it was the only impetus I needed.

Years ago, I grew tired of having my television or radio introduction accompanied by a label, with some implied expectation that what would then come from my mouth were the party talking points. That was me 26 years ago, when I was the youngest elected member of the state delegation to the Republican National Convention, but not today. I’m not sure if I left the Republican Party or the party left me. All I know is that I no longer feel comfortable.

The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.

Which is not to say I feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, either. Weeks before Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh’s announcement that he will not seek reelection, I noted the centrist former governor’s words to the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib. Too many Democrats, Bayh said in that interview, are “tone-deaf” to Americans’ belief that the party had “overreached rather than looking for consensus with moderates and independents.

Where political parties once existed to create coalitions and win elections, now they seek to advance strict ideological agendas. In today’s terms, it’s hard to imagine the GOP tent once housing such disparate figures as conservative Barry Goldwater and liberal New Yorker Jacob Javits, while John Stennis of Mississippi and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts coexisted as Democratic contemporaries.

Collegiality is nonexistent today, and any outreach across an aisle is castigated as weakness by the talking heads who constantly stir a pot of discontent. So vicious is the political climate that within two years, Sen. John McCain has gone from GOP standard-bearer to its endangered-species list. All of which leaves homeless those of us with views that don’t stack up neatly in any ideological box the way we’re told they should.

Consider that I’ve long insisted on the need to profile in the war against terrorists. I believe that if someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has actionable intelligence on future terrorism, you try the least coercive methods to extract it but ultimately stop at damn near nothing to get what you need to save American lives. I want the U.S. military out of Iraq, but into Pakistan. I’m for capital punishment. I think our porous borders need to be secured before we determine how to deal with the millions of illegal immigrants already within them. Sounds pretty conservative. But wait.

I think that in 2008, the GOP was wrong to adopt a party platform that maintained a strict opposition to abortion without at least carving out exceptions in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. I was appalled that legislators tried to decide Terri Schiavo’s end-of-life plan. I don’t care if two guys hook up any more than they should care about my heterosexual lifestyle. And I still don’t know what to think about climate change.

I think President Obama is earnest, smart, and much more centrist than his tea party caricature suggests. He has never been given a fair chance to succeed by those who openly crow about their desire to see him fail (while somehow congratulating one another on their relative patriotism). I know he was born in America, isn’t a socialist, and doesn’t worship in a mosque. I get that he inherited a minefield. Still, the level of federal spending concerns me. And he never closed the deal with me that health insurance is a right, not a privilege. But I’m not folding the tent on him. Not now. Not with the nation fighting two wars while its economy still teeters on the brink of collapse.

All of which leaves me in a partisan no-man’s-land, albeit surrounded by many others, especially my neighbors. By quitting the GOP, I have actually joined the largest group of American voters. According to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, 39 percent of Americans identify themselves as independents — compared with 32 percent who say they are Democrats and 26 percent who are self-described members of the GOP. Nowhere is this more pronounced than locally, where a shift away from the Republican Party has taken place in the four bellwether counties surrounding Philadelphia.

I will miss casting a ballot in the spring, as current state election law prohibits unaffiliated voters from voting in GOP or Democratic primary elections. Instead, I’ll join the others who bide their time until fall, when we can temper the extremes of both parties.

My decision should not be interpreted for more than it is: a very difficult, deeply personal one. . . . I value my independence. I am not motivated by strident partisanship or ideology.”

Those are Bayh’s words, not mine. But he was speaking for both of us.

Cross-posted with the Philadelphia Inquirer.

President Barack Obama (L) speaks as he is interviewed by radio show host Michael Smerconish (R) during a live broadcast from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House August 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Other than being interviewed by Smerconish, Obama also took questions from a few call-in audience members.

President Barack Obama (L) speaks as he is interviewed by radio show host Michael Smerconish (R) during a live broadcast from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House August 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Other than being interviewed by Smerconish, Obama also took questions from a few call-in audience members.

Michael Smerconish is the Philadelphia radio market’s premier talk host who is heard daily on Infinity Radio’s 50,000-watt WPHT, found at 1210 AM. The program reaches Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Smerconish is also a frequent guest host for Bill O’Reilly on the nationally syndicated Radio Factor. For several years, Smerconish has been a popular columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. In 2003, author Bernard Goldberg re-published one of Smerconish’s Daily News columns in his book Arrogance, a follow-up to his bestseller Bias. Smerconish is a familiar face on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN where he provides commentary on current events. Contact Michael Smerconish via www.smerconish.com

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New Green Ad: From Silicon Valley to The Chamber Of Commerce

Posted by Audiegrl
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The new ad, designed to look like an email from Silicon Valley to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is signed by Silicon Valley Joint Venture president Russell Hancock and Silicon Valley Leadership Group president Carl Guardino.

silicongreenAD-largeTo: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
From: Silicon Valley
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 8:37 AM
Subject: Moving Forward on Clean Energy

Silicon Valley is ready to lead the world in the next great technological revolution: clean energy. It’s the best route to prosperity and jobs for America, and to less imported oil. But we need strong policies from Washington that open up the market for this new opportunity.

That’s why we’ve been so disappointed by the opposition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to clean energy legislation now moving through Congress. While you are a valued business partner on many issues, the San Jose Mercury News called you a “dinosaur when it comes to clean energy”. And companies from PG&E to Apple have resigned from the Chamber over your extreme position on climate and energy legislation.

As our European and Asian competitors move forward to build the next generation of clean energy technology, the U.S. Chamber seems mired in false debates over settled science and a 20th Century approach to energy. It’s time for the “voice of business” to move forward, embrace a market-based cap on carbon pollution, and help lead a new century of American prosperity.

If you won’t, other cutting edge companies are likely to move forward without you — and to speak out in favor of policies that help us create a new, healthy energy future.

Signed,

Russell Hancock, President & CEO

Russell Hancock, President & CEO

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Carl Guardino, President & CEO

Carl Guardino, President & CEO

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Silicon Valley Puts More Pressure On The Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Change

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Energy Secretary Chu: ‘I Think It’s Wonderful’ That Companies Are Leaving The Chamber Over Its Denialism

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu with President Obama

Energy Secretary Steven Chu with President Obama

ThinkProgress/Zaid Jilani—Recently, there has been a “business backlash” against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its extreme global-warming denier views. Businesses, fed up with the Chamber’s resistance to taking any sort of action to curb carbon emissions, have been leaving the business federation one after another. In the past month alone, Pacific Gas & Energy, Exelon, Public Service Company of New Mexico, and Apple have left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its extreme views on climate change.

Yesterday, during a solar energy event at the National Mall, Energy Secretary Steven Chu was asked by a Reuters reporter what he thought about the exodus of businesses from the Chamber. He replied by telling the reporter that he thinks it’s “wonderful” that companies are leaving:

green_dollar“I think it’s wonderful. I think that companies like that, Exelon, for example, others are saying that we have to recognize reality. In order to position the odd states in an economically competitive place and also to make the world minimize the dangers of significant climate change for our children and grandchildren we’ve got to go in this direction. So they’re saying, we can’t be a party to foot-dragging, to denials to things of that nature.”

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Apple Quits the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Over Its ‘Frustrating’ Global Warming Denialism

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Apple Quits the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Over Its ‘Frustrating’ Global Warming Denialism

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ThinkProgress/Zaid Jilani—There has recently been a “business backlash” against the Chamber of Commerce over its refusal to accept the science of global warming and lobbying against climate change legislation. The New York Times reports today that the latest company to join this backlash is Apple, which wrote in a letter to the Chamber that it has been “frustrating” that the business federation has been fighting efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions:

apple_logo_640x480“We strongly object to the chamber’s recent comments opposing the E.P.A.’s effort to limit greenhouse gases,” wrote Catherine A. Novelli, the vice-president of worldwide government affairs at Apple, in a letter dated today and addressed to Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber. “Apple supports regulating greenhouse gas emissions, and it is frustrating to find the chamber at odds with us in this effort,” Ms. Novelli continued.

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Progressive Media has produced a video detailing how a growing list of U.S. companies are leaving the Chamber over its ideological opposition to any serious action over climate change. Watch it:

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