All about ideas…

Fallout caused by GOP fundraiser documents drives away donors

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POLITICO reported today that a major Evangelical GOP fundraiser sent a letter to Michael Steele and copied GOP Congressional leaders, saying he would no longer support the GOP organization but would continue to give directly to those GOP candidates who supported his clients and his beliefs and values.

Mark DeMoss said in his letter that his decision to stop donating to the GOP is a direct result of the Powerpoint Presentation that gained national attention after the POLITICO story was published.

The last paragraph in his letter summarizes his position:

Mr. Chairman, I love giving money to candidates at every level who I believe in and want to see elected. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to consider making a contribution to the Party itself. The sort of behavior displayed in Boca Grande only contributes to the widespread cynicism of politics in general and our Party in particular. It is, in my opinion, indefensible and destructive.

Today, while reading over the comments to this story in POLITICO, I was amazed by the vitriol and hatred and name-calling directed at Mr. DeMoss for taking a principled stand against the pejorative and hate-filled rhetoric that has become so predominate in the U.S. political discourse. Mr DeMoss, who worked on he Romney Presidential Campaign, told Newsweek’s Lisa Miller following the National Prayer Breakfast:

And it was this PR effort—the pitching of the Mormon politician to Christian voters—that showed him just how uncivil political discourse had become. “A lot of the attitudes and rhetoric aimed at Mormons from fellow evangelicals, and at me for backing a Mormon, were pretty ugly. And while I couldn’t be more different politically from Obama, I was bothered by the rhetoric about him from conservatives and evangelicals and people who didn’t like him.”

As a result of the hateful speech he witnessed during the Presidential campaign, he contacted Lanny Davis, a Democratic spinmeister and onetime chief counsel in Bill Clinton’s White House, to enlist his support for a new project to bring civility back into the political arena and speech:

“I am a conservative evangelical and a Republican, and I suspect that politically you and I have little in common,” it said. But “in an increasingly polarized political context and country, you have always been gracious, soft-spoken, thoughtful and respectful of your opponents.”

As a result of their “meeting of the minds,” they formed the Civility Project.Civility Project - Take the Pledge

“It’s harder and harder,” DeMoss says, “to win a debate on the strength of your ideas and words. That’s a dumbing-down of America and political discourse. I’m anything but an academic elite, but Obama is not the antichrist, nor is every Republican a saint. Fox News is not infallible, and MSNBC is not all heresy.

Lanny Davis added,

“If Obama and the Republicans could be Mark DeMoss and me, we could listen to each other. We would mix and match, and find an incremental solution that may be 25 or 50 percent away from where we want to be. Perfect is the enemy of the good.”

This morning on ABC’s This Week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said,

“That sort of thing is uncertainly not helpful. I can’t imagine why anybody would have thought that was helpful. I mean, typically, the way parties raise money is because people believe in the causes that they advocate.”

Given the vitriol thrown at anyone who says that the GOP presentation is wrong or chooses to work on a bipartisan piece of legislation, I’m sure McConnell will soon be called a “Rhino” too, just as Republican Senator LIndsay Graham has. This morning on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Graham regretfully lamented how hard it has become, given all the hate-speech and extreme partisanship in the Country, to work in a bipartisan way to accomplish anything in Congress.

Shortly after listening to Senator Graham bemoan the extreme political divide in the U.S., former Iraqi Prime Minister, Ayad Allawai, told Fareed Zakaria that his country believed all parties and peoples believed in inclusion in the political process. That Iraqis have finally come to understand that sectarianism (partisanship) is not the way forward for their country and, as a result, Iraqis have begun to put aside their partisan loyalties to work together.

I understand that people in the U.S. are frightened and scared…and with good reason. But ours has been a country where, except for brief moments in all of history, all sides of any issue came together to work on solutions. Where men of good will chose to work together to solve the challenges facing the nation. Certainly, they had differences in political ideology and solutions, but those differences did not stop them from working together to solve the challenges and crises facing the nation. Even the Constitution was a compromise. As Franklin admitted, the Constitution isn’t perfect, but it’s probably the best we can achieve.

I don’t see much of that spirit anymore on blogs and in comment sections. All I see is hate…and a temptation towards violence.

Could it be that the U.S. needs to relearn the lesson of negotiation and comprise from Iraq’s newly democratic government and country?


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