Republican Dilemma Resolved?

With the entire Republican delegation finally standing firm against the most recent ‘bailout’ (read ‘pork barrel’) package one has to wonder if backbone has finally returned to the party of low taxes, smaller government and limited spending. For some this represents no change at all. These have been the voices crying out in the wilderness that it is immoral to try to spend our way to prosperity by expecting our children and grandchildren to foot the bill.

For others, honorable men and women, I’m sure, it was the opportunity to vote their conscience rather than playing the role of a good partisan by supporting the party or the president. Still others, the true political types, sensed that opposing this piece of legislation was the best way for them to survive politically since the massive transfer of wealth was now proposed by the rival party and was thus, fair game.

Parties play an important role in our political system by allowing supposedly like minded people to get together and promote shared values… at least that is the theory. Our system of government is set up to operate with a two party system, which is why it is extremely difficult for any other group to attain a major status. We can’t expect this to change under either party leadership.

What happens when party leadership starts taking the entire structure in a new direction – one neither espoused nor supported by the rank and file party membership? Among other things, it reveals the priorities of their members. Do they value party of principle or principle over party? It gets even more complicated when we factor in tradeoffs people make. That is, conceding a point that is not so critical to accomplish something more important. This is supposed to be the essence of politics.

Whatever the motivation, we have seen over the past four or so years an abdication of the smaller, less intrusive government direction of the Republican Party. Officials have been listening to the media and not the people. They have been promoting the ‘big tent’ philosophy of backing away from core beliefs so as not to offend more moderate voters who really haven’t thought things through.

How has this worked? Has anyone ever gotten anywhere by straddling a fence? The last two election cycles have produced the two most resounding defeats this party has seen in recent memory. And yet we hear louder cries from some corners to further desert our ideals to win the confidence of the voters. Think about that for a moment: people are supposed to trust and respect us more as we tell them we really don’t want to live out our principles.

So we now see a group looking for a resurrection of credibility, perhaps too late to stop the current madness. On the other hand, it’s never wrong to do the right thing. It may be too late, but not wrong. Perhaps the Republican Party is in the process of recovering its soul. Perhaps they are beginning down path to renewed influence.

In any case, it’s helpful to look at what happens when people, in this case Congressmen and Senators, who go along to get along. Many are former Congressmen and former Senators. Others came closer to defeat than they ever have this past November. Even those that survived have lost their majority, prestige and influence… not to mention self respect.

What has happened to this country that says it honors the memory of men like John Paul Jones? We should remember his reply to demands for surrender “I have not yet begun to fight” as the Bonhomme Richard was burning and slipping under the sea. A few hours later he stood victoriously on the British ship that had destroyed his own. Did he win this victory by surrendering, compromising and giving up the fight?

The point is, the reasons we got into this situation lie in the past, but we should still learn that we can’t compromise on principle and expect to be successful. The Republican majority did… and they are no longer the majority. If the voters don’t understand the value of smaller, less controlling government, the answer is not deserting the ideal, but in better explaining why freedom is better than servitude. Most of the people have been through the public schools which have systematically denigrated the contributions of men and women like Jones in the interest of turning out good little socialist workers. We, including our elected representatives, have to stand up for what is right. We may be like John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. He did not change his message when no one was there, but when the time came, his message was heard.

Perhaps we, Congressmen and Senators could learn something from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said, “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true, so we’re going to stand up right here.”

The History of the Republican Party (1854-2016)

From Abraham Lincoln to Donald Trump, the history of the GOP.
Free audiobook: http://www.audibletrial.com/TheDailyConversation

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Taibbi’s full article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/r-i-p-gop-how-trump-is-killing-the-republican-party-20160518

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Script:
To understand the context of Republican voters settling on Donald Trump, let’s take a look at the history of the GOP.

The Grand Old Party was formed by antislavery forces in the 1850’s. Back then, the Republican party was actually the progressive party in American politics. The first Republican President was Abraham Lincoln, who was elected in what political scientists say was the first of three critical elections in American history. Before Lincoln was even inaugurated, seven southern slaveholding states had seceded from the Union, setting the stage for the Civil War. Lincoln and the Republicans in congress who controlled the Union won that war and freed the slaves. But after Lincoln was assassinated, during reconstruction, the Republican Party punished former leaders of the Confederacy by not allowing them to vote or hold office, and gave former slaves the right to vote. This turned whites in the south against the Republican Party for the next 100 years and led to the creation of the Klu Klux Klan and Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation and took the vote away from blacks.

In 1896 the second critical election in American history gave William McKinley the presidency and the Republicans large majorities in both houses of congress. This time-period cemented the Republicans as the party of low taxes, conservative social policies, and anti-government intervention in the economy, although legendary President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt tried to push the Party in a more progressive direction.

Fast-forward to after the stock market crash of 1929 when the country was in the depths of the Great Depression, but the Republicans refused to take direct government intervention to help the economy, leading to the third critical election in American history, in 1932, when Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal Coalition defeated incumbent Republican President Herbert Hoover by 413 electoral votes. “That the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Roosevelt then enacted the most progressive social programs in history, won reelection three times, and led the US to an eventual victory in WWII.

The Republican-controlled congress never wanted to be out of power for that long again, so they approved the twenty-second amendment to the constitution, which limited presidents to just two terms in office.

After the war Roosevelt’s Democratic successor Harry Truman integrated the U.S. military – a move that angered many white southern Democrats who began switching to the Republican Party.

In 1952, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower – the World War II Supreme Allied Commander – became President. His centrist governing style went a long way toward normalizing Roosevelt’s expanded role for the federal government.

In 1964 Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which was intended to end discrimination, especially in the south. This moment, more than any other, defined the parties as we still know them today, with the Democrats coming full circle from being the party of the Confederacy 100 years earlier, to ultimately embracing diversity and equal rights; whereas the Republican Party shifted significantly to the right on social issues as it happily took in the many white voters abandoning the Democrats.

This shift was on full display, as 11 southern states voted for the Republican Richard Nixon.

Six years after Nixon’s Presidency ended in disgrace after the Watergate scandal, the Republicans finally had a leader they could be proud of in the former actor and Governor of California Ronald Reagan. Reagan took advantage of a bad economy and the Iran hostage crisis to defeat sitting President Jimmy Carter in a landslide and became the father of modern conservatism with deep tax cuts and a massive buildup of the U.S. military that helped facilitate the fall of the Soviet Union.

Reagan was followed by his Republican Vice President, George H.W. Bush, who helped cement many of Reagan’s signature policies.

Bill Clinton’s democratic presidency was dangerous for Republicans in that he was a charismatic white southerner capable of making inroads with the Republican base, so to counter his appeal, they highlighted his infidelities, a tactic that was largely successful in tainting his presidency despite Clinton’s success in building a strong economy and securing a relatively peaceful world…

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