Small government. Local control. Responsible infrastructure projects. Reduced spending. Individual liberty. Strong defense. Creating entrepreneurial environments where small businesses thrive. These were the ideals I thought I had signed up for when I registered, for the first time, as a Republican at the age of eighteen. And I have voted faithfully. I had five George W. Bush bumper stickers on my car, right alongside the one for Don Young.
It used to be that being a member of the Republican Party was being part of a diverse group of people (big tent if you will). It meant working with people across the aisle, compromising when needed, and being respectful.
In the eighties, when I was a kid, I learned of President Reagan and Speaker Tip O’Neill’s friendship, despite their very public battles. Republicans worked with people; worked together. It wasn’t pretty, but it happened again in the nineties, during the Contract with America. And again after 9/11.
But I can’t help notice that things are different now. Not just in Washington DC. Every nightly newscast shows us the federal government fighting, but the partisanship is less noticeable at home. There’s an “us vs. them” mentality in our state legislature, especially in the House where there is no bipartisan interaction. It’s led me to ask: Who are they working for? Us, or just themselves?
2012 has brought new levels of fanatical extremes to Alaska’s right-wing party. Alaskans should know that a little corruption can go a long way. Proof of this is evidence in Alaska’s House of Representatives. Representing the crazy side of the GOP is Rep. Bill Stoltze, Rep. Wes Keller, and Rep. Alan Dick.
The GOP has gone so far to the right that Rep. Stoltze, the powerful chair of the House Finance Committee, is so beholden to that power – and his career – that he refuses to hear a bill to help feed Alaska’s children and do it on a STATE level (you know where the GOP traditionally likes government to function). Even when activist Kokayi Nosakhere went to Juneau and attempted to make a change, going on a hunger strike, Rep. Stoltze refused to budge and even have a discussion. That bill died in his committee.
The GOP has gone so far to the right that Rep. Wes Keller has shown his craziness thrice recently. First, he held up a vote in committee honoring the Girl Scouts of America based on something he heard on the internet. I’ve read and seen a lot on the internet. I wouldn’t recommend anyone legislate accordingly. Worse even yet, Rep. Keller held up a bill requiring insurance companies to include diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder. This weekend, thankfully, he finally came to his senses – or maybe the political pressure of doing your job just got to him. And before either of those bizarre stunts, in a Senate Health and Social Services committee meeting, Rep. Keller repeatedly referred to abortion as a form of contraception, while attempting to justify a bill that would gut state funding for it, including for counseling.
I don’t have facts or anything to back it up, but I read somewhere on the internet that Rep. Keller wasn’t going to get reelected.
The GOP has gone so far to the right that Rep. Alan Dick might be the new face of the party; the standard bearer. He put out the idea that women aren’t really in control of their pregnancy. He proposed that we require that a woman get written consent from the man who impregnated her. Even if it was her father, or a rapist.
Even if you’re pro-life you should have issues with this thinking. Women, not legislative committees, need control over their own health.
And then there’s that whole thing about him calling Japanese “Japs” on the House floor. His staff dismissed this as using “vernacular.” He needs manners and a dictionary. And maybe a second dictionary to send to Rep. Keller, for good measure. I thank him for the heartfelt apology he offered, but there are some things – known as common knowledge – that we’d expect elected officials to know before they walk in the door.
I have a hard time believing that these men are representative of their respective districts. Or maybe their constituents need to wake up. Probably both. What they do represent is what is wrong with the GOP in Alaska (and the case could be made across the country). I cannot find how they represent the GOP I grew up with. If any citizen wants to make an impact on our state in a positive way they will stand up to these men representing their districts; they will stand up and RUN!
Republican, Democrat or independent; it doesn’t matter as much as our need for people in the Alaska Legislature to represent sanity. We need sanity with mutual respect, discussion and compromise. Our bipartisan working group in the Alaska Senate has been a great example of government that works.
This is the state that made history by writing in Senator Murkowski after an upset Tea Party victory from Joe Miller in the GOP primary. I was one of those votes. I even spelled her name right. We elected her based on her moderation and how she represents traditional Republican values, not crazy made up fairy tales. Rep. Stolze, Rep. Keller and Rep. Dick represent all that is wrong with politics today and do not deserve the honor to hold any position in Juneau.