Friday, April 3, 2015

What it meant to be a Republican

An old-line unabashedly liberal congressman recently told me, "You expect us Democrats to be crazy but the Republicans were known to be the solid, sober capable managers.  Now they've gone insane and if you people want to do something patriotic they should join the Republican party and bring it back home."

That's one reason this Republican is so often critical of the real RINO's (Republicans in name only) who've hijacked the Grand Old Party and contorted it into a special interest advocacy forum out ot touch with the party's rich history.  In fact, as we get closer to another presidential election, we have a half dozen or so candidates vying to distinguish themselves as being further to the right than the next guy (no women in the mix).  They really seem to be a choice between which brand of razor blades with which to cut your throat.

And it's more of the same -- but worst.  John McCain in 2008 was flamed because he wasn't conservative enough (despite solid ratings from the American Conservative Union).  Four years later Mitt Romney twisted himself into a political pretzel to appease the right-wing that it became virtually impossible to know where he really stood.  (Ironically, the party that in 2004 accused Democrat John Kerry of being a "flip-flopper" fielded a candidate who was likewise inconsistent -- or worse.)

The Republican party hasn't always been so extreme.  Yes, we consistently advocated a strong defense, smaller government, lower  taxes and the benefits of private enterprise. 

But the GOP I grew up with supported organized labor as evidenced in the 1956 platform: "The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration."  And four years later it said that the interests of labor and management were best reconciled in a "climate of free collective bargaining." Republicans also boasted of achieving "[u]pward revision in amount and extended coverage of the minimum wage to several million more workers" and "[s]trengthening the unemployment insurance system and extension of its benefits."  Instead of bashing unions, the 1968 platform of Richard Nixon said: "Organized labor has contributed greatly to the economic strength of our country and the well-being of its members. The Republican Party vigorously endorses its key role in our national life."

Civil rights?  The GOP was ahead of the curve.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 would never have seen the light of day without the solid support of Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen and his fellow Republicans.  Ditto for the other major civil rights legislation of the 1960's.  Before that it was the Republican federal judges appointed by President Eisenhower that courageously took on Jim Crow.

The Republican platforms in  1952, 1956, 1960, 1972 and 1976 all endorsed the Equal Rights Amendment; in fact the first GOP support for the ERA came in 1940.

In the 1970's  arts and culture programs were considered national treasures worthy of taxpayer support.  In 1972 the GOP said the Arts Endowment "encouraged the creativity of individual artists and writers" and the Humanities Endowment was "fostering improved teaching and scholarship in history, literature, philosophy and ethics."  Four years later we again pledged funding for the two institutions, as well as for public broadcasting: "We favor continued federal assistance to public broadcasting which provides us with creative educational and cultural alternatives. We recognize that public broadcasting is supported mainly through private sector contributions and commend this policy as the best insurance against political interference."

This is the real Republican party -- the one that existed before the John Birch Society clones hijacked it.

Let's do something patriotic.  Let's purge the Republican Party of the real RINO's who have strayed so far from our heritage to the extent that they are the crazies.  We need to return to being the party of solid, sensible managers -- not extremist lunatics for sale to the highest bidders.

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