I remember when virtue, honor, military service, and up from the boot-straps was a badge of honor within the Republican Party. Once being honest, saying what you think, and having the ability to think with pragmatic individuality was the hallmark of an elected Republican official. There was no litmus test for ideology. There was no need for petty ideology. Republicans knew who they were and what they and their elected officials stood for:
- Limited government
- Lower taxes
- Law & order
- Strong national defense
- Equality of opportunity
- Free enterprise
These things were – and still are part of Republican Principles:
“I’m a Republican Because…
I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.
I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.
I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.
I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.
I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations, and that the best government is that which governs least.
I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.
I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.
I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.
FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government….”
These words are on the current GOP web site. They were tacked to the wall of the little GOP headquarters we Young Republicans had in 1972 when Nixon was running for office. They were framed and hanging on the wall of the building we used as a headquarters when Reagan was running – both times. They were framed and hanging on the wall when George H. W. Bush was running. From what I can remember, they have been around for a very long time – and have never changed.
I remember such remarkable leaders as Everett Dirkson, who would today be castigated by conservatives as not being ideaological enough. What he did with Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam would earn him eternal hate from the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
“…As President Johnson followed Dirksen’s recommendations and escalated the war, Dirksen gave him strong public support, as well as strong support inside the Republican caucus, even as some Republicans advised him that it would be to the party’s advantage to oppose Johnson. Ford commented, “I strongly felt that although I agreed with the goals of the Johnson administration in Vietnam, I vigorously criticized their prosecution of the war. Now, Dirksen never took that same hard-line position that I took.” [Dietz 149]…”
It is called “LEADERSHIP”.
Dirkson’s son-in-law is Howard Baker, US Senator and former Reagan Chief of Staff. He too, would be castigated today for not being “pure”. He was known as “The Great Conciliator”
“…Baker is often regarded as one of the most successful senators in terms of brokering compromises, enacting legislation, and maintaining civility….Baker was also the influential ranking minority member of the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Sam Ervin, that investigated the Watergate scandal. He is famous for having asked aloud, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”, a question given him to ask by his counsel and former campaign manager, future U.S. Senator Fred Thompson….”
Then there was Barry Goldwater. Today’s conservatives worship him, but Goldwater thinks they were a “bunch of kooks – and disliked them tremendously.”
“…two years later stated that the Republican party had been taken over by a “bunch of kooks”. In a 1994 interview with the Washington Post the retired senator said,“ When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye. ”
In response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell’s opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, “Every good Christian should be concerned”, Goldwater retorted: “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”
Goldwater also had harsh words for his one-time political protege, President Reagan, particularly after the Iran-Contra Affair became public in 1986. Journalist Robert MacNeil, a friend of Goldwater’s from the 1964 Presidential campaign, recalled interviewing him in his office shortly afterward. “He was sitting in his office with his hands on his cane…and he said to me, ‘Well, aren’t you going to ask me about the Iran arms sales?’ It had just been announced that the Reagan administration had sold arms to Iran. And I said, ‘Well, if I asked you, what would you say?’ He said, ‘I’d say it’s the god-damned stupidest foreign policy blunder this country’s ever made!'”, though aside from the Iran-Contra scandal, Goldwater thought nonetheless that Reagan was a good president.
Also, in 1988 during that year’s presidential campaign, he pointedly told vice-presidential nominee Dan Quayle at a campaign event in Arizona “I want you to go back and tell George Bush to start talking about the issues.”
Some of Goldwater’s statements in the 1990s aggravated many social conservatives.
He endorsed Democrat Karan English in an Arizona congressional race, urged Republicans to lay off Bill Clinton over the Whitewater scandal, and criticized the military’s ban on homosexuals: “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.”
He also said, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”
A few years before his death he went so far as to address the right wing, “Do not associate my name with anything you do. You are extremists, and you’ve hurt the Republican party much more than the Democrats have.”
In 1996, he told Bob Dole, whose own presidential campaign received lukewarm support from conservative Republicans: “We’re the new liberals of the Republican party. Can you imagine that?“…”
Conservatives have gone too far. Like Goldwater said, they are destroying the GOP.