From green to dark red

This story in today's edition of The New York Times offers an example of how far to the iChat he national Republican Party has moved. Mitt Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, not only pushed through health-insurance reform that he now disavows, but was a leader on environmental causes -- which he also has abandoned.

Romney, in his earlier incarnation, was very much an old-school liberal Republican -- think Jacob Javitz, Millicent Fenwick or Mitt's dad George Romney. But when he opted to run for president, things changed. And they changed because he understood he had no shot at the nomination unless he jettisoned his more enlightened views and dove into the muck of his party's no-nothing base.

This shift is not only an indictment of both Romney and the GOP, but also of our larger political culture. We have a former Republican pragmatist turned rightist ideologue challenging a Democrat who has governed as a moderate Republican but is derided by the right as a socialist. The distortion this represents means that it is impossible for us to have an honest discussion of the issues and the future.

It also is an indictment of the two-party system and a reminder that we need multiple voices and parties, and a system in which these small parties can flourish (fusion voting, instant runoff, public financing, etc.).

Neither major party has a tent big enough to contain the multitudes of America. It is imperative that we erect more and bigger tents to ensure all of us can be heard.

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Read poetry at The Subterranean.

Suburban Pastoral, a chapbook by Hank Kalet, available here.

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