Sen. Lincoln Chaffee
US Senator from Rhode Island
Dear Sen. Chafee:
Few senators have ever been so consisitently progressive on the issues and values questions that daunt Washington, D.C. every single day. Few senators have been so couragious as you to stand up for the values and a progressive agenda for America. In your defense of values like personal liberty and privacy, freedom for all - including women, equality of opportunity of all and a shared future of all and a sensible foreign policy instead of an ideologically driven dangerous course that the Bush administration is persuing, you have been articulate, strong, and proud. You can even be called a champion of progress in the United States Senate, along with Senators like Barbara Boxer. And that's no small praise coming from a progressive. If I were a Rhode Islander, I would be proud to call you my senator.
But there is a problem. You are a Republican. Being a Republican itself isn't a problem - for goodness' sake, if Lincoln's party won't lead with a principled progressive agenda, who will? But today, sadly, the Republican Party hiararchy has betrayed the party's great tradition and become nothing more than a front group for religious fundamentalists, warmongerers, and radical social reactionaries. The Party of Lincoln has been transformed into the party of inequality, injustice, and irresponsibility. You being a Republican isn't itself a problem so much as it helps the extremist right wing of your party (think Tom DeLay and Rick Santorum) gain power by being the "majority party." This allows them to control more staff funds (the more senators they can count as "Republican" the more money Bill Frist has to hand out appointments), control the agenda to the point where they dare attempt to eliminate checks and balances, threaten the judiciary, and push regressive policies that goes against every fiber of your - and my - beliefs of a fair, just, and more free America.
So today, I call on you to stand up and refuse to be part of that power grab anymore. Today, I call on you to stand up and be counted on the side that your heart truly is on. Today I call on you to leave behind a corrupt party hiararchy that is holding America hostage. Today I call on you to help us work toward a stronger, safer, more free, fairer, more just America with opportunity for all and responsibility from all people. Today I call on you to leave the Republican Party, and become an independent, or join the Democratic Party. Progressive Americans everywhere will welcome you with open arms, and more importantly, open hearts. Your home cannot be in the corrupt, out-of-touch Republican Party aparatus that runs in Washington, DC today. The Republican Party aparatus, taken over by social reactionaries, corporate cronies, and neo-con war hawks who never spent a day overseas wearing this country's uniform, in my judgment, is beyond repair, at least in the foreseeable future. The progressive movement is your home. And we need you. Please, senator, consider what you can do to restore America's ideals by joining us. You will make a great Democrat! But more importantly, you will make a difference in America's future in a way that is needed now more than ever.
Please senator, I plead with you, leave the corrupt regime that now is calling itself the Republican Party.