I read a great article from The New Yorker today about Chuck Hagel, a guy you don't really hear much about. He's a Republican Senator from Nebraska, and a good friend of John McCain. In fact, he ran McCain's campaign back in 2000. But in 2008, he hasn't even gone so far as to endorse McCain. It's a long, but good, article.
One thing that really comes into focus in the article is how Hagel has been ostracized by his party for not following along party lines, especially in terms of the Iraq War. He's also a big believer in diplomacy, and has tried to give some advice to the White House regarding talks with Iran. Interesting guy.
When small-government, fiscal conservatives like Hagel become disenfranchised with the Republican Party, you know something is wrong. You know the GOP has lost its identity, which is most likely why it lost seats in Congress in the last election cycle, and will likely lose more next week. When you don't offer a distinctively different alternative, you won't get the results you want.
But the issue is much broader and deeper than that. Just look at the rhetoric seen and heard in almost every news broadcast, pundit commentary, or political discussion. Doesn't it seem like it's nothing more than a pissing contest half the time? Who has more seats? Who can stop the filibuster? Who owes who in votes? Does it seem like things have gotten a little out of focus?
The problem is essentially this: how can you claim to be loyal to a party if you expect anything to get done? Who determines "the party line"? It just seems fishy to me.
Personally, any one who beats their won drum about voting for their party or supporting their party or wanting to beat the other party is nothing more than a gas bag. And the only thing worse than that is someone who says they want to work "across party lines" or bring in some sort of unified front, but then go on and do nothing but attack the other party's candidate. Sadly, that is what John McCain is doing. That's part of the reason why Hagel won't endorse him. There are many foreign policy issues as well, but that seemed to be a sticking point.
Independent thought seems to be a weakness in modern politics, which is sad. I'm not sure how or where it started, but it's continuously propelled every election cycle. What I try to do is look at the individual candidates, and try to ignore the party associations to some degree. I try not to just check the "All Republican" or "All Democrat" box. Please, if you have the time, look at the names. Do some research.
Seven more days...