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For Lent: Common Ground w/Republicans

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent for Catholic Christians such as myself. While the traditional practice for Lent is giving stuff up, we are also encouraged to add practices as we think God may be calling us to take up.

I’ve decided one of my practices will be to blog once a week about a Republican or group of Republicans I feel I have common ground with. No matter your faith tradition, I ask you to look around at people that you consider to be political opponents and ask yourself if you have any common ground with them. If you do, write about it.

Today I highlight and commend Senator Richard Lugar, Republican Senator from Illinois.  Senator Lugar is the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  This week he released a draft report on Cuba which called for significant easing of the embago against Cuba. In a press release announcing the report he writes:

“Economic sanctions are a legitimate tool of U.S. foreign policy and they have sometimes achieved their aims, as in the case of apartheid in South Africa. After 47 years, however, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to achieve its stated purpose of ‘bringing democracy to the Cuban people,’ while it may have been used as a foil by the regime to demand further sacrifices from Cuba’s impoverished population. The current U.S. policy has many passionate defenders, and their criticism of the Castro regime is justified. Nevertheless, we must recognize the ineffectiveness of our current policy and deal with the Cuban regime in a way that enhances U.S. interests.”

For most of my adult life I’ve thought we’ve needed to ditch the embargo. Not just for the reasons that Senator Lugar outlines above, but because the United States has very cordial relations with any number of countries whose governments make Fidel look like a humantarian. Turkmenistan comes to mind. And for religious freedom or lack thereof, Saudi Arabia comes to mind. If we can call nations like these our allies, then we can talk and sell to Cuba. We don’t need to subsidize them, but we need to treat them at least as well as we do China. And once the Cuban gov’t can’t blame every ill of their society on our embargo, perhaps things will change. It won’t if we keep sticking to the same failed policies.

Senator Lugar is offering sensible advice that I hope President Obama takes to heart. And for that, Senator Lugar is my Common Ground Republican for the week.


2 Responses

  1. I don’t really consider myself a liberal (more a lefty)
    I found common gound with Republicans when I see the excesses and political correctness on the left. As a person who works in library I strive to reach out to the whole community with respect and understanding. After all a library is a place of ideas………………

  2. You bring up a good point that I believe but didn’t emphasize. Intolerance and bad ideas are found across the political spectrum. Some of the strongest allies in the struggle against the Patriot Act were people who zealously believed in limited government.

    I don’t really know where I fall on the political spectrum. I’m sort of a compendium of Green, Libertarian and Catholic Worker ideas. There’s no party that mostly represents me. I think the government does too much in some areas and too little in others. And I don’t care for the strong bipartisan consensus that America is and always will be the leader of the world. History is stacked with nations and empries that thought they’d be forever number one.

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