The Republican Party

Has the Republican Party in the United States lost its collective “mind,” or is it a totally new political party clinging to a traditional name – whose traditions and the policies of its past leaders it has continually and consistently repudiated over the past four years?

Why do I ask this question?

Consider first the policies and positions of the Republican leaders of the past.  Theodore Roosevelt pushed anti-trust actions against monopolistic corporations, believed in conservation and created the first national park. Dwight D. Eisenhower, general of the armies and president, warned against the excessive influence of the military-industrial complex and created the federal interstate highway system.  Barry Goldwater, Mr. Conservative of the 1970s, was pro-choice and felt women should decide their own reproductive future.  Richard Nixon, certainly no bastion of liberalism, espoused universal health insurance and tried to get it considered by Congress and founded the Environmental Protection Agency.  Ronald Reagan, cited time and time again by conservatives, believed in collective bargaining and was actually a union president, and raised taxes more times than he cut them.  The first president Bush promised not to raise taxes, but had the courage to take back his words when he realized taxes needed to be increased.

Yet every single one of these acts and positions has now been declared an anathema to Republicans running for President and for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.  In effect, none of these past Republican leaders would “qualify” as true card-carrying Republicans according to those who now compose or lead the Republican Party.  A few days ago, former Florida governor and Republican Jeb Bush made a statement to the effect that even his father, the first President Bush, wouldn’t be able to get anything passed by the present Congress.

President Obama is being attacked viciously by Republicans for his health care legislation, legislation similar to that signed and implemented by Mitt Romney as governor of Massachusetts and similar in principle to that proposed by Richard Nixon.

Now… I understand that people change their views and beliefs over time, but it’s clear that what the Republican Party has become is an organization endorsing what amounts almost an American version of fascism, appealing to theocratic fundamentalism, and backed by a corporatist coalition, claiming to free people from excessive government by underfunding or dismantling all the institutions of government that were designed to protect people from the abuses of those with position and power.  Destroy unions so that corporations and governments can pay people less.  Hamstring environmental protection in the name of preserving jobs so that corporations don’t have to spend as much on environmental emissions controls. Keep taxes low on those making the most.  Allow those with wealth to spend unlimited amounts on electioneering, if in the name of  “issues education,” while keeping the names of contributors hidden or semi-hidden.  Restrict women’s reproductive freedoms in the name of free exercise of religion. Keep health care insurance tied to employment, thus restricting the ability of employees to change jobs.  Allow consumers who bought too much housing to walk away from their liabilities through bankruptcy or short sales (including the honorable junior Senator from Utah), but make sure that every last penny of private student loan debt is collected – even if the students are deceased.

The United States is a representative democratic republic, and if those calling themselves Republicans wish to follow the beliefs and practices now being spouted, that’s their choice… and it’s also the choice of those who choose to vote for them.

But for all their appeal to “Republican traditions,” what they espouse and propose are neither Republican nor traditional in the historic sense,  But then, for all their talk of courage and doing the hard jobs to be done, they haven’t done the first of those jobs, and that’s to be honest and point out that they really aren’t Republicans, and they certainly aren’t traditional conservatives, no matter what they claim.

25 thoughts on “The Republican Party”

  1. cremes says:

    I eagerly await your next article where you cherry pick events to illustrate how President Obama and the Democratic Party no longer hew to its principles. This should be exciting.

    1. I didn’t cherry-pick. I gave examples from every Republican president for the last sixty years except for Gerald Ford, and the second George Bush, who is the first “new Republican” president. I could have added Taft, who also opposed monopolies, and that would have made it all but two Republican presidents in a century [also excluding Harding]. At the very least, this proves that previous Republican presidents didn’t have to be 100% party-line ideologues. As for the Democrats, I probably won’t do a blog on them, but I will point out that Obama adopted the Republican form of health care, and abandoned the “single-payer” version endorsed by most Democrats and that his handling of the fiscal crisis gave in to every Republican demand to the disadvantage of most Democrats.

      1. cremes says:

        All I see here is confirmation bias on display. You seem to think that all of these positions are specific to Republicans or are enshrined into law because a Republican (R) President deemed it so. You also pay too much attention to what they *say* instead of what they actually *do.*

        Student debt.
        Let’s see… the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 (which was the first reform to delay the discharge of student debt in bankruptcy) was a bipartisan bill under a Congress where both houses had been controlled by the Democrats for going on 40 years. The amendment was proposed by a Democrat from PA and a Republican from IL (certainly a R stronghold if ever there was one). It was further amended in 1990 (D Congress), 1998 (R Congress) and 2005 (R Congress). Democrats had a filibuster-proof control of both houses as recent as 2008/9 yet they did nothing. So who has responsibility for the laws requiring the collection of every last penny of student debt? I’d say that is a pretty bipartisan affair.

        Such a hot-button issue it isn’t even worth discussing. There are pro-whatever on both sides of the aisle. I’ll agree that Rs make more of a big deal about it than Ds, but it isn’t that stark of a difference the last few years. Santorum lost his seat due to his close association with the so-called religious right. And good riddance.

        Destroying unions.
        Wow, this is a stretch. I assume you are referring to the recent limits placed on collective bargaining for public-sector employees (that is, government employees) in a few states such as Wisconsin and Indiana. Ask F Roosevelt what he thought about unions for govt employees (and many Ds before and after him). They thought it was a bad idea, and recent runaway pension plans have proven their warnings prescient. Private sector unions are under no direct assault these days; their sorry state is a result of overreach on the part of their leaders. Their blue-collar constituency finally figured out that the union fatcats were helping themselves more than they were helping the regular Joe. People have been voting with their feet and leaving private-sector unions of their own accord for the last few decades.

        Low taxes.
        This is an argument over inches. Tallying up local, state and federal taxes, the average person has over a 40% marginal tax rate. Sure, we aren’t Finland (with a 65+% marginal tax rate) but it’s still quite high. We do have the (or in top 5) highest corporate tax rate in the world. But Congress, who writes the laws, puts lots of little loopholes in for their buddies so some corps pay little to nothing. That is truly a bipartisan effort too. Besides, why should the government (local, et al.) have claim to 40 or more cents of every dollar I earn? I say it’s excessive, you may not. But let’s pump a few trillion dollars more into the War on Poverty just to see how many more poor folks we can add to the dole permanently. I mean, it has worked so well these last few decades that we should keep right on doing the same thing, right? At least Clinton had the good sense to go along with Congress on welfare reform.

        Wealthy guys spending dough on political speech.
        I’ll see the Koch brothers and raise you Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, George Soros and a majority of the hollywood idiots. This is a first amendment issue; money is speech. Some people can afford more speech than others but it is *not* solely a R issue. Tell me again which party has more millionaires representing them in Congress? Oh yeah, those pesky details kind of undermine your rant.

        Tying health insurance to employment.
        A D-controlled Congress did it. The Rs were complicit. Both parties have had ample opportunity (when they have controlled both houses) to undo this nonsense, yet neither have done so. Why? Probably because they are beholden to corporate interests. This issue came up during the ObamaCare debate as a potential baby step for reforming health care. It was shot down. By whom? Gee, who controlled Congress during that period…? I’m at a loss. Help me out here.

        Furthermore, why did President Obama cave on single payer? He had a filibuster-proof majority. Therefore, he or his brothers-in-arms (Pelosi, Reid) decided it wasn’t a good idea at the time. Or maybe they too are in the pocket of Big Pharma who can’t wait to get their slimy little hands on all that yummy taxpayer money.

        I could go on. Your post demonstrates a willful ignorance about who is responsible for the current sorry state of affairs. It is *both* Ds and Rs who are to blame. Clearly the Ds have been drifting leftward for decades and the Rs are right behind them. I don’t really see a dimes worth of difference between either party’s platform. You see religious fascism and corporate control of government as the Republican platform. I agree. I see it and I see the pretty much the same as the Democrat’s platform (minus the religion). A pox on both their houses.

        I still love your (science fiction) books, regardless of our difference of opinion on these topics. But now I’ll likely put you in the same category as Scalzi, Peter David, and others where their personal *partisan* politics depress me.

        1. Your confirmation bias is also evident. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve pretty much taken on both parties over the years. You’re seeing what you want to… and, by the way, I’m still a registered Republican, if reluctantly, so please don’t lump me with the “Hollywood supporter” sobriquet. I don’t have much use for special interest millionaires of any any stripe, but it does seem to me that George Clooney has done a lot for humanity than all of the hedge fund managers and credit-swap-default “innovators” put together.

          1. cremes says:

            *My* confirmation bias? I just ripped both parties to shreds by illustrating what they *do* versus your rant about what they *say* they will do (and then they rarely deliver anyway). If I have any bias it’s that I think both parties are ruining this country and I’m biased against evidence to the contrary.

            Also, I didn’t lump you in with Hollywood celebs. Even rereading that section I still don’t see how you could think that. Are you a millionaire/billionaire and I am unaware of it? Do you live there? (I really don’t know.)

            And your final comment takes the cake. You know about the things George Clooney has done because, well, he’s George Clooney. He knows how to promote himself and his causes. How about the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation? It’s essentially a giant hedge fund and disperses money to its pet causes. Those billions aren’t baked into pies waiting for the next worthy cause to come up; they are invested with those evil hedge fund managers.

            Thanks for the dialogue. Obviously you should feel free to respond if the spirit moves you. However, I’ve used up my quota of internet outrage for the day. 🙂

          2. Yes, your confirmation bias. You’re still seeing what you want to see, not what I wrote. For the record, much of what I pointed out about past Republican presidents was their actions, and those actions are at variance with current Republican rhetoric. Now… there are two possibilities. If current Republican office-holders and candidates honestly believe what they’re saying, then they’re lying about being in accord with “traditional” Republican values, and they really are a “new” party wrapping themselves in the trappings of the old. If they don’t believe in what they’re saying, then, obviously, they’re lying. In short, either way, they’re lying. So.. what else is new? Except no one except the people on this blog seems able to see it or willing to comment on it.

            As for Gates and Clooney… what’s wrong with spending your own money for pet causes that benefit people. Isn’t that better than doing nothing or arguing over what government should or shouldn’t do?

          3. Joe says:

            @LEM: Yes, they’re lying. Just consider the way they misconstrue each others’ statements. But while you care about integrity, I doubt it disturbs their sleep — it’s how the game is played, and they want to win. To my eyes, the problem is the game, not the players. (I wrote about the rules of the game below).

  2. Sorwen says:

    Which brings up a side effect. Many vote for their Party simply because it is or always has been their Party. Rather than acknowledge that their Party may have deviated from that individual’s ideals, they will still continue to vote for their Party and not vote based off what the Party is actually doing. I cringe any time I hear the words “I always vote…” because generally it means they didn’t actually give any thought to it.

    If we are all going to hell in a handbasket I would like to at least know people put some thought into sending us there.

  3. Tiffanie H. says:

    Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes

    Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
    Let it be the pioneer on the plain
    Seeking a home where he himself is free.

    (America never was America to me.)

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
    Let it be that great strong land of love
    Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
    That any man be crushed by one above.

    (It never was America to me.)

    O, let my land be a land where Liberty
    Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
    But opportunity is real, and life is free,
    Equality is in the air we breathe.

    (There’s never been equality for me,
    Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

    Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
    And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

    I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
    I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
    I am the red man driven from the land,
    I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
    And finding only the same old stupid plan
    Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

    I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
    Tangled in that ancient endless chain
    Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
    Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
    Of work the men! Of take the pay!
    Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

    I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
    I am the worker sold to the machine.
    I am the Negro, servant to you all.
    I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
    Hungry yet today despite the dream.
    Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
    I am the man who never got ahead,
    The poorest worker bartered through the years.

    Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
    In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
    Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
    That even yet its mighty daring sings
    In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
    That’s made America the land it has become.
    O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
    In search of what I meant to be my home–
    For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
    And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
    And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
    To build a “homeland of the free.”

    The free?

    Who said the free? Not me?
    Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
    The millions shot down when we strike?
    The millions who have nothing for our pay?
    For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
    And all the songs we’ve sung
    And all the hopes we’ve held
    And all the flags we’ve hung,
    The millions who have nothing for our pay–
    Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

    O, let America be America again–
    The land that never has been yet–
    And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
    The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
    Who made America,
    Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
    Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
    Must bring back our mighty dream again.

    Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
    We must take back our land again,

    O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath–
    America will be!

    Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
    We, the people, must redeem
    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
    The mountains and the endless plain–
    All, all the stretch of these great green states–
    And make America again!

  4. Mikor says:

    Point well taken, Mr. Modesitt.

    I would like to point out, however, the difference in campaign politics, opposition politics, and the politics of governance. The first two can “afford” to be ideologically pure. In fact, they are often wildly and unrealistically pure, because they are designed to get a candidate to power, or attack the incumbent, respectively.

    The latter — the politics of government — has to recognize limitations of the real world. The governing administration has to compromise, if not with the opposition, then with the rest of the world. Not to mention physical and economic realities. Whether these compromises are then called betrayal or open-mindedness depends on the beholder.

  5. Your point is well-taken as well. Looking at it through your definitions, one might say that there is no longer any difference between opposition politics, campaign politics, and the politics of governance in the United States.

    My point, however, did refer to past Republican ideology as well as governance. and there’s no doubt that has changed drastically over the past 10-15 years.

  6. Bain says:

    I highly recommend books by Kevin Phillips,concise history of the new Republican party and their ideology.I believe Mr. Phillips was a staff writer for Nixon.

  7. Chad says:

    Another negative blog post. Is there anything positive you can talk about or have you slid too far down the slope of elder grouchiness and discontent?

  8. rehcra says:

    Would you prefer the atypical “Good news Princeps is out and it has some wonderful reviews!! You can check them out below.”

    And then no post for two or three months?

    I personally prefer something that might seem grouchy but makes me think over the normal platitudes; not that a positive post can’t be deep. Of course, I have a feeling that if L. E. Modesitt didn’t feel perfectly free to vent a little on here we wouldn’t get nearly as many good posts.

  9. DoctorT says:

    Both major political parties at the national level favor a massive federal government. Both parties favor a military far larger than it needs to be (with Republicans bragging that they want more military spending than the Democrats). Both parties harm free market capitalism via favoritism, corporatism, and over-regulation. Both parties continually rewrite the personal and corporate income tax codes to provide favors to certain groups. Both parties favor entitlements with future costs that will break the backs of our children. Both parties favor the “war on drugs” and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of persons whose only crimes were to use illicit drugs. Both parties favor increasingly intrusive government and have acted to decrease liberty and privacy for decades. Both parties are helping to turn the USA into Greece (with the Democrats pushing us there a bit faster than the Republicans).

    I, too, am a registered Republican, but I’ve been disgusted with the party since the mid-1980s. I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson this November. I know we’ll never again have a libertarian government, but libertarian ideas will be discussed more if Gary Johnson gets a million votes or more. Such discussions may give us a chance to end the war on drugs before our prison population reaches three million, disband the TSA before every child in America is molested in public, and rein-in federal government spending and borrowing so that we don’t become owned by China.

    1. Tiffanie H. says:

      Yeah, the whole penal system has gotten ridiculous. I don’t think a lot of people realize how much money is being spent (where we live it takes up over half our state budget). Our US soldiers work in extreme conditions, with little pay, and sometimes have to eat food that isn’t exactly appetizing. Contrasted to the guys and gals who are in jail for the free meals, free health care, cable TV, air conditioning at a standard 70 degrees… There are too many things to list. Is it any wonder we’re paying so much? My husband works as a Correctional Officer in our county jail. Each inmate there costs close to 50,000 a year to house! Are we all insane? Whatever happened to the good ol’ chain gangs? Even if a person is wrongly accused a little hard work never hurt anybody. Go tell it to our soldiers who are enduring 120 degree weather and being shot at. A lot of people in jail are there because they are lazy, because they don’t want to have to work, and ‘our system’ is letting them.
      If I don’t work, I don’t eat. My kids don’t get fed either. The same principal should be true for inmates. If they don’t want to work, let them starve.

      1. Joe says:

        Sorry… I have to placate the bee in my bonnet:

        principle : fundamental truth
        principal : person of highest authority / main

        1. Tiffanie H. says:

          thanks joe, I will keep that in mind for the fuutuure.

  10. Joe says:

    When the environment changes, species that are more adapted to it thrive, and those that are less adapted to it die.

    The environment has changed. Infotainment, sorry “the news”, provides no fact checking, let alone enough time for deep debate of the issues. Therefore politicians can only be heard if they buy advertising — increasing the revenues of the TV stations on which the news is not reported. Needless to say, advertising does not persuade people using facts, but by targeting their guts.

    So much cash is required, that politicians can only obtain it from wealthy patrons. These individuals and corporations in return expect favors (legal indulgences, or support such as the grilling Jamie Dimon was not given on Capital Hill recently). Money as speech means that the 1% preselect the politicians the 99% get to choose from. Should a politician waver in his support, his fundraising will suffer, as will his career.

    Since preselection leaves few issues of deep import to debate, since politicians spend their time fund raising, and since advertising is shallow, is it any surprise at all that politicians espouse extreme, simplistic and self-destructive positions?

  11. Wine Guy says:

    It seems that people here are as entrenched in their thoughts as the morons I hear on the radio.

    Neither party is what it once was. I suspect they were never what they were, either.

  12. Steve says:

    The political parties are what they have always been, and what they are constructed to be. They are groups of elite that espouse ideas that will garner the most votes to keep them in power. The will of the people is filtered through them via election victories. Labels of Democrat and Republican do not matter. There are two parties to allow a choice. If Democrats became pro life then Republicans, or a new party would become pro choice to capture votes. True believers would complain and change affiliation as necessary. The party platforms evolve over decades and centuries. The only true constant is that there is opposition.

  13. Tim says:

    I am not sure you can expect today’s political parties to adhere to the principles of their forebears. In England, the socialist Labour party under Tony Blair party hijacked the conservative middle class right, and so gained power for 10 years. Old-labour (directed by the Trades Union) would have been appalled but would never have been in power.

    So I believe you need to take the politics of the moment, and vote accordingly. I.e. do not espouse to any party affiliations and vote on the day as your conscience dictates.

  14. I do… and I understand that, but I still retain a moral objection to members of a political party insisting that they’re something they’re not and never were.

  15. Wine Guy says:

    To be learned in rhetoric used to be a good thing, just like being a person of discrimination used to be a good thing. Now rhetoric, like discrimination are unclean words.

    Despite what people say – words matter. It used to be that a liar was never trusted. Now, people say ‘oops, I’m sorry, I misspoke’ and we’re expected to forgive them – but too often we forget that they’ve perjured themselves or lied and then recanted or promised something and not followed through. If I was like that, my wife would divorce me, my children would not forgive me, and my parents would be ashamed of me.

    Time change = not necessarily a good thing.

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