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Famous Consiberals

First, my disclaimer:  the people I've listed here have never claimed to be Consiberals, nor am I sure they would agree with me.  Nevertheless, these are people whom I believe exemplify some of the best qualities in politics, people whom many throughout history would laud for their reasoned, practical and thoughtful approaches to building consensus and finding solutions.

Joe Scarborough

Scarborough, host of "Morning Joe," previously served six years as a Congressman from Florida.  One of a freshman class that dubbed itself "The New Federalists," Scarborough focused on the traditional conservative principles of smaller government, states rights and adherence to the Constitution.  While he's not above the occasional rant, he insists on logic, honesty and compassion.


Olympia Snowe

Focusing her attention on efforts to build bipartisan consensus on key issues that matter to Maine and America, Snowe has built a reputation as one of the Congress’ leading moderates. In 1999, she was cited by Congressional Quarterly for her centrist leadership.



Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain came to prominence as the straight-talking, forward-thinking daughter of the 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. And her profile has only risen since the election ended in favor of the other guy.
What makes Meghan so appealing? As a new role model for young, creative, and vocal members of the GOP, she's unafraid to mix it up and speak her mind.


Christie Todd Whitman

I always felt that Whitman got a bit of a bad rap when she was NJ's Governor. However, in retrospect, she was very centrist, doing a difficult job of balancing fiscal policy, the needs of businesses and the needs of people in a very liberal state. Today she spends much of her time working on environmental issues, helping all parties create innovative and balanced approaches that address everyone's concerns.

She is also co-chair of the Republican Leadership Council (RLC), which she founded with Senator John Danforth. The RLC’s mission is to support fiscally conservative, socially tolerant candidates and to reclaim the word Republican.

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What's a "Consiberal?"

Are You A Consiberal?

Consiberals are the new silent majority.

We believe in fiscal responsibility and social compassion We believe in reasonable, thoughtful dialogue without extremism. 

Consiberals can be from the right or the left, and we are the vast majority of voters.  We are tired of the spin and the sound bite; we are tired of political marketing. 

We want--we demand--that our leaders speak to us and for us, treating us all as intelligent participants in the body politic.

 *****

Michael Charney is the author of Chasing Glenn Beck: A Personal Experiment in Reclaiming our Hijacked Political Conversation as well as more than a dozen short stories, essays and technical articles covering a wide range of topics.  He lives in New Hampshire (by way of California and New Jersey) with his wife, Renee, and his two dogs, Kayda and Zoe.

Sunday
Jul242011

Consiberalism: Everything Old is New Again

 

I was sitting at home recently working on an acrostic puzzle, the strange offspring that apparently resulted from mating a crossword with a game of Hangman. It's a second-tier puzzle, usually relegated to somewhere in The New York Times Magazine between the really expensive real estate listings and a recipe for something inedible like sea urchin ceviche.

One of the clues caught my attention: "Foe of a Democrat."  The answer was obvious and I realized it shouldn't be.  Democrats and Republicans weren't meant to be enemies; they were meant to balance perspectives, to give voice to competing ideologies so that the country could ultimately move forward in a way that worked for all. Not so anymore.

Full disclosure: I'm a Republican, but not in the way the word is used today.  I'm a Republican in the way Republicans were until well into Reagan's second term, when the more conservative elements began to hold sway.  In rebellion I've defined myself as a "Consiberal."

The Republican Party, founded in the middle of the 19th century (Lincoln was the Party's first President), was a party of fiscal conservatism and social moderation.  The Party’s first slogan was “free labor, free land, free men.” Free labor referred to rights both of workers and businesses, free land referred to the Party’s opposition to a plantation system that favored the wealthy, and free men referred to the Party’s loathing of slavery. These platform planks clearly outlined what is often forgotten today: that the Republican Party began as a socially open-minded, socially responsible, socially inclusive and socially progressive assembly.

Ironically, the first "fringe" of the Party--referred to as the Radical Republicans--were considered so because they were too liberal.

In addition to fiscal conservatism and social moderation, Consiberals also believe in the pre-eminence of states' rights, the importance of economic growth, and the value of individual freedom and liberty.

Not long ago the conservative voice was very different than it is today: we had Barry Goldwater, who famously said "You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to shoot straight."  We had William F. Buckley, Jr., who said (when referring to many conservatives at the time) "intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanatacism."

Sound familiar?

We need that kind of dialog again, that kind of reasoned intellgence.

With respect to all of the above the Consiberal may feel Party-less; the Democrats still want to "help" too much and the Republicans have planted their flag in a false Patriotism laced with social issues designed to target us emotionally.  But, as it turns out, there are a lot of Consiberals out there.  A lot.  We are the new silent majority, but silence isn't working. Silence has only gotten us where we are today.

By the way, if in reading this (or my book), you feel that I've been unduly harsh with the GOP, then you're right.  You only hurt the one you love, and I'd dearly love to have my Party back.