02 February 2012

The Real RINOS!

Where Are the Romney Republicans? - NYTimes.com

The above link takes you to an excellent article by Nicholas D. Kristof (The New York Times, Februrary 1, 2012) about the real history of the Republican Party. Today, people such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh often claim the Republican party has always been a conservative party. "Conservative" in this context means 21st century conservatism, which is primarily an anti-government ideology. Indeed, Glenn Beck often claims much of modern progressive liberalism goes back to Republican Theodore Roosevelt. Such men and women often call modern Republicans in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower "RINOs," or "Republicans In Name Only." Their stated goals is to get rid of so-called moderates in the party.

There are several problems with this view. The article, linked above, notes that traditionally, the Republican Party was not restricted to conservatives.  I'll go further: the Republican Party was the liberal party for most of its history. Civil Rights and Women's Rights were Republican causes, for example.

Furthermore, when pressed, many conservative commentators proudly state that they are conservatives first, and that the Republican Party is only a container for their activism. So, by their own words, they are "Republican In Name Only," the real RINOS.

Again, conservatives in the Republican party today are not ideologically compatible with Republican conservatives historically. Traditionally, Republican conservatives supported civil rights, women's rights, environmental conservation, policies which contemporary conservatives call extremist. Likewise, older conservatives like Robert Taft were more like contemporary Ron Paul Republicans in foreign policy: keep our troops here at home.

In reality, the traditional Republican Party was the national party, while the Democratic Party was the party of states rights. Both Lincoln and Roosevelt were accused of expanded the powers of the presidency beyond that called for in the US Constitution. Republicans were often criticized for expanding the role of the Federal government. Beck and Limbaugh dare not criticize Abraham Lincoln due to the reverence Americans give him, even though he was not a conservative by today's standards.

President Reagan, an ideological conservative, is often quoted by contemporary conservatives as saying "Government is not the solution to our problems. It is the problem." What he actually said is, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Reagan put the problem of big government in context of that time. Also, President Reagan supported and implemented amnesty for illegal aliens. This is something contemporary conservatives willingly ignore.

Conservatives used to stress the need for good government, believing it should be mainly at the local and state levels, with the Federal government having roles in national security, civil rights, and conservation. Today, too many conservatives just want less government indiscriminately. Liberals, also, used to stress the need for good government believing the national government should have a larger role in implementing public policy. Today, many liberals want more government as the solution to address more problems.

For many of us, it depends. Government is good at doing some things, and not so good at doing other things. Less government makes sense in some public policy areas, and a different government approach makes sense in other areas. The US Constitution must be followed in both cases, and character and competency must accompany ideology in politics.

By re-writing the history of the Republican Party, these real RINOs have more in common with George Orwell's "Big Brother" in 1984 , and thus, alienate many voters whose values are those of Lincoln, T Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and yes, even Reagan.