There are a lot of newspaper articles about the squabbling in the Republican party, with a feud going on between Colin Powell and Rush Limbaugh making headlines.

Hmmm…I don’t remember either of them being on the ballot last November, but since I live in the Philippines, perhaps I’m out of touch.

Personally, I’m a blue dog Democrat, from a Union home, who has always practiced in blue collar towns. We support social programs, but tend to be religious and conservative in social issues.

I support gun control (my policeman Grandfather wouldn’t allow one in his house), but I used to own a deer rifle. Guns are not only a symbol of freedom (remember the Molly McGuires?). Those deer carcasses hung behind the garage every November did get make into some great kielbasa.

President Obama once called us  “bitter, racist, and clinging to religion and guns“, thereby showing that he might be the child of an anthropologist, but that he doesn’t understand or care to understand the culture of working class America.

On the other hand, like many Democrats from Blue collar towns, I have watched in bemusement while the President throws his anti war supporters under the bus and has continued some of Bush’s policies in the war on terror (albeit changing the vocabulary of the discussion: from what I understand, there is no longer a war on terror, and terrorist incidents are now called human caused disasters or some such thing).

Yet last week, two votes in the Democratically run Congress showed that we have not lost our party completely.

According to the AP, who no longer allows bloggers to quote them,  the Senate voted 90 to 6 against giving the President money to close down Guantanamo prison.

The main reason seems to be that there was a request for money, but no plan in the works, so a lot of folks said: Whoa.

Some blame for this was on “Republican scaremongering”, but those of us who remember 9-11 don’t need Rush Limbaugh to scare us into worrying, especially since last week we read that one out of seven prisoners already released have gone back to their terrorist ways, and that NYCity gang who couldn’t shoot straight but planned to bomb Jewish houses of worship were recruited in American prisons. Whoa. Do you really want your local drug-selling biker to be housed with a Gitmo type at a local Federal prison?

But the other vote that suggested that the Blue dog Democrats are still alive and kicking is that Senator Coburn’s amendment to allow guns into National Parks has just passed.

The Coburn amendment allows loaded firearms only in parks in states that permit the carrying of concealed weapons…

Coburn, R-Muskogee, said he attached the amendment to the credit-card bill last week because Senate Democratic leaders had blocked him from offering it on other legislation.

“It’s not about guns,” Coburn said. “It’s about states’ rights — being able to determine what’s best for them. And it’s about the Second Amendment. It’s not about bureaucrats telling Americans when their rights are going to be taken away.”

That should be a “headsup” to both parties.

You see, Coburn was not the pick of the Oklahoma Republican leadership, but won against the party’s handpicked candidate.

In Oklahoma, Senator Coburn is a Republican, but Brad Henry, a Democrat, is the governor, and quite popular.

Everywhere he goes, Governor Henry urges fellow Oklahomans to be more prideful in their state, put aside their differences and work together for the common good. As he often likes to say, “We are not Republicans, Democrats or Independents. We are all Oklahomans – first, last and always.”

Bipartisanship doesn’t mean that Powell is correct in saying that Republicans should mimic the left wing of the Democratic party, but it does mean that both parties need to realize that there are a lot of folks out there who don’t think that Congress gets it at all.

The twin votes–on guns and security– should be a wakeup call to partisans on both sides of the aisle that the grass root voters are stirring, and that they work for the voters, not for Move On or the Dittoheads.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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