After a guest speaker I hosted yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with students today. My guest, a Republican state representative who on more than one occasion described himself as a "dinosaur," spoke rather forthrightly (and at the same time self-deprecatingly) about what he did and didnt like about the actions of his colleagues. (I blogged about his talk here.)
Id describe him as a classic suburban or business-oriented Republican, with little patience for some of the symbolic elements of the social conservative agenda.
Well, one of my students (a freshman) thought he sounded like a Democrat! Her tone wasnt critical, as if she were a true believer criticizing someone she took to be a RINO. Instead, she seemed simply to think that the Republican Party consisted only of social conservatives, which is certainly the way its often portrayed in the media, and sometimes even by religious conservatives themselves. I think that its healthy for kids in reddish states like my own to see that theres more than one kind of Republican, that the GOP can tolerate differences of opinion and even rather tart internal criticism, and that Republicans are capable even of reaching across party lines and forming friendships with their political opponents, all of which was out there for my students to see, courtesy of the dinosaur, who happens to be my state rep.
Fran Millar wouldnt be mistaken for a Democrat by anyone who pays close attention to Georgia politics, and Im glad he was there to disabuse some of my students of what they thought they knew about Republicans.