Robert J. Elisberg asks what he calls 50 Easy Questions to Ask Any Republican, apparently in an effort to reduce said Republican to a conversational puddle. While I consider myself to be pretty independent-minded, I am a registered Republican, and I didn't find his questions to be very challenging at all — or interesting. I suppose it might be different if I felt I had to support every single action or statement of the Bush administration, but like most people, my views are somewhat more complex than that. I can certainly say that President Bush has made mistakes, and I actually didn't vote for him in 2000 before he had ever been President, but I did vote for him in 2004, and would likely vote for him again if the U.S. Constitution allowed for a third term.
Generally the questions reveal a startling ignorance of what most Republicans actually think, which is surprising given that "Republican talking points" are apparently so widely available.
The ability to see the negative points of someone and still support them is a valuable one, and the only way to ever cast a vote for anybody — rather than casting a vote against somebody else. In 2004, I didn't vote against John Kerry, I voted for George Bush. I rather get the idea that a lot of people who picked Senator Kerry's name on their 2004 ballot may have done so to cast a vote against George Bush, which doesn't seem to me to be a great way to accomplish anything in politics. I understand that others disagree, but that's what makes American politics interesting.
So I saw the fifty questions, and I decided to pretend that a friend had taken Mr. Elisberg's advice. He suggests that people should carry the list in their pocket and pull it out any time "someone begins quoting from a Republican talking point memo." The irony of that suggestion may escape Mr. Elisberg, but perhaps not. Perhaps he's being deliberately ironic.
I've taken the liberty of responding to each question with a question of my own, which proved to be the most difficult part of this exercise. Unlike many party faithful on either side, I have made many efforts to understand why people believe what they do, so I already know the answers to a lot questions I might otherwise want to ask my invented questioner. In addition, I have no desire to convert anybody to the Republican Party, since I'm not especially eager to be there myself. I think it's the better party of the two, sure, but not the party I would create were it up to me.