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Charles Laffiteau's Bigger Picture

Last update - Thursday, September 17, 2009, 02:48 By Charles Laffiteau

As many of you are aware, I am a lifelong member of the US Republican Party. I joined the party while I was still in high school – before I was even allowed to legally vote. And through the years I have raised money for and campaigned on behalf of numerous Republican candidates for local, state and national offices. I haven’t always liked or agreed with many of the positions taken by the politicians I’ve supported, but I’ve also never voted for a Republican simply because they were a member of the party.

I have always tried to put the needs of my state or country ahead of partisan politics. I take our freedom to vote very seriously because many of our global brethren don’t have the same freedom. Our democratic freedoms aren’t rights – they are privileges. That is why we have both a duty to exercise our right to vote, and a responsibility to vote for candidates we believe are best suited for the job, regardless of their party affiliations.
For some time now I have been a frequent and vocal critic of state and national Republican office holders, as well as many of the party’s positions on foreign and domestic policies. Even so, I had never been ashamed to acknowledge my Republican Party affiliation, or the fact that I bear some responsibility for the mistakes Republican leaders made while they controlled the reins of political power. I was part of the minority of Americans who voted Bush and Cheney into office back in 2000 and I was very pleased that the party was in control of Congress as well.
But last Wednesday night, for the first time in my life I was ashamed to be a member of the Republican Party. At first I couldn’t be honest with myself about it. I’ve been upset with the party before, for the decision to invade Iraq and its fiscally irresponsible policies while it controlled Congress, but I never once felt like renouncing my membership. Until now, that is.
So what exactly happened last Wednesday that caused my soul searching? It was my reaction to the outburst by Republican congressional Joe Wilson of South Carolina during President Obama’s speech on health care. When Rep Wilson began bellowing “You lie!” as the President spoke, truth be told at the time, it didn’t really disturb me much. While I do remember thinking the outburst was rude and discourteous, I wasn’t exactly shocked by Rep Wilson’s behaviour, given the many times such contentiousness has seen displayed by other politicians, both Republican and Democrat alike.
The President handled it well, too. He paused and calmly but firmly responded “No, that isn’t true,” then resumed delivering his speech undeterred.
It was only afterwards, as I contemplated what had happened, that my feelings of shame began to creep over me.

Continued next week...

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is pursuing a PhD in International Relations and lectures on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU.

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