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I used to be a Republican.  There, I said it.  I used to be a Republican when I was in law school twenty years ago.  I had some friends who were politically active and wanted to get me involved.  I was young and didn’t know anything about the issues.  What they told me seemed to make sense at the time, a time long before the internet when getting information became easy. 

The biggest reason I was a Republican dealt with “personal responsibility”.  To be a Republican meant that you took your responsibilities seriously.  So, I guess it was natural that in my early years I thought that people should be personally responsible for their actions.  If they cause harm they should not look to others to pay for the damage that they caused.  The person who caused the harm should pay the damages for those he injures.  This is, in fact, what they teach in law school. 

However, when I first began practicing law I ran into the exact opposite idea.  The firm that hired me worked for insurance companies.  Working for the insurance industry means you are trying to blame somebody else so the insurance company has to pay as little as possible thereby making bigger profits.  This was not consistent with my ideas of personal responsibility and I didn’t stay there long.   

Unfortunately, the Republican Party to which I used to belong changed over the years.  While it used to be the party promoting personal responsibility it has now changed to the party that defends big business to the exclusion of all else.  It has become the insurance company for big business.  Where the Republican Party used to help small businesses, it has now become the defender of Big Business no matter what damage it causes and no matter where responsibility lies. 

The biggest example of this has come with the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  BP is a foreign corporation and, under US law, it is considered a “person” with all the rights and responsibilities associated with such status.  BP has been receiving all of the benefits of the “commons” of the United States including exploiting our oil.  In doing so it owes all of the People of the United States certain obligations to be responsible for any harm that it causes. 

This means that when BP causes the most massive oil spill ever seen on the planet it has an obligation to pay for all the damages caused by its spill such as to the fisherman who now have no fish to catch, the businesses on the Gulf coast that no longer have the fisherman as customer, the losses to the families of the eleven workers who died working on BP’s well, etc.  The old Republican Party would have insisted on this.

The current Republican Party and many of its leaders have come out AGAINST the whole concept of personal responsibility and now support the People of the United States bearing the burden of BP’s disaster.  In other words, the victim has to bear the responsibility for the immense damage caused by BP.  

Instead of demanding that BP be held responsible for the damages it has caused, the Republicans have been very vocally opposed to the Obama Administration’s attempts to do precisely that.  When President Obama got BP to commit to a 20 Billion dollar fund to pay for damages BP caused the Republicans screamed and the highest ranking Republican on the House Energy Committee publicly apologized to BP, NOT to the victims of BP’s profit mongering.

The Republican politicians complained that business should not be forced to do anything by the government.  If that were the case no one would ever pay for the injuries and damage they caused.  In fact enforcing such payments for damages is one of the main purposes of the government.  We see just how badly the Republican Party has strayed from the idea that people should be responsible for their own actions. 

There is no justification for the Republican Party’s support for BP other than the massive campaign contributions that BP has made to the Republican Party and the individual politicians supported by BP.  Being bought and paid for by big corporations, especially foreign ones, is NOT why we elected you.  The People of the United States elected you to represent OUR interests.  We did not elect you to represent foreign corporations trying to get out of paying for the damages and injuries that they caused to Americans.

BP is one of the most profitable companies, not a poor company.  BP, unlike the American People living in the Gulf, does not need more money from the U.S. Government.  BP like other big corporations simply finds it cheaper, in its never-ending quest for more profits, to “buy” the politicians rather than to pay the people that it has damaged.

For this reason alone I am glad that I am no longer a member of the Republican Party AND no longer support its member politicians.  I would much rather support those politicians who look out for the interests of the ordinary American and America’s small businesses!

J. Caleb Donner

Caleb Donner is a Southern California attorney who can be reached at