The Republican Party is dead. Yes, I'm saying this before the election. Even if McCain wins, which could happen if Obama supporters stay home thinking the election is in the bag, the GOP still has lost its way along with a substantial number of members. While high-profile Republicans like Susan Eisenhower and Frank Schaeffer have made the headlines, the real exodus is on Main Street.
Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of Republicans are unhappy not because of the Bush administration itself, but because of the recent clear revelations of what direction the Party is heading. Actually, we've started realizing the problems began all the way back in Reagan's presidency, and the only thing that has remained "Republican" has been the talking points. Let's quickly review the Republican Principles listed on the GOP site itself.
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.
Does the current Republican leadership represent these values? An honest assessment will reveal that there is a new set of principles at work within the leadership.
2008 Republican Principles (Chuck Lasker's perception)
I'm a Republican Because...
I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies in military might and God's help, as long as we do His Will and make this a Christian nation while supporting Israel until the day Israel is destroyed and Jesus returns.
I BELIEVE that each person's dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored unless we can encroach on these in the name of safety or other short-term excuse that the idiot populace will accept.
I BELIEVE in special rights and justice for Republican politicians, Christian leaders, the extremely wealthy and lobbyists, regardless of cause as long as the money is right.
I BELIEVE in equal justice and equal opportunity for everyone else, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability, unless we're talking about lazy black people, illegal Mexican people, uneducated women, homosexuals, or, if justice and opportunity for disabled people costs businesses money.
I BELIEVE large corporate profits, stock market wealth and protection of monopolies will bring this nation opportunity, economic growth and increased prosperity for the upper one percent of incomes.
I BELIEVE government should talk about fiscal responsibility and allowing individuals to keep more of the money they earn, but should actually borrow and spend recklessly and place the full burden of taxes on those with lower and lower incomes and future generations for short term gain. Any taxes on the rich are socialism.
I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to advance Christian evangelical morals through tax code, control of education, judicial appointments, privatization and the proper Christian philosophies of wealth and warfare.
I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government run by those who know best, and all means necessary must be used to work against poll access by the lowly, the lazy, the stupid and the poor.
I BELIEVE the Republican Party was founded by America's founding fathers to fight Roe vs. Wade, to protect "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance they wrote, to put "Under God" on our money, and to keep the Ten Commandments in our Courtrooms and government buildings.
I BELIEVE that we must never speak to our enemies, unless they're very big enemies with money and cheap labor agreements.
I BELIEVE in free trade with lower nations that provide cheap labor and higher profits and any attempt to induce labor or environmental equality on these nations is liberalism.
I BELIEVE you're either with us or you're with the terrorists. If you do not have the same beliefs we do, you are un-American and worthy of derision, abuse, vandalism, placement on no-fly lists and investigation.
I BELIEVE anyone labeled "liberal" is a socialist, which is actually communist, which is actually Marxist, which means evil.
I BELIEVE abortion must be made illegal, but stopping extramarital and teen sex is more important than reducing abortion rates, so I support abstinence-only education, blocking of access to birth control by teens, and punishing poor people for being lazy by blocking access to health care to those women who want to keep their babies.
I BELIEVE Americans must retain only those principles that we consider important while developing new and innovative ideas for bringing power to a Republican executive branch and reducing the power of the annoying Congress and the activist Courts.
I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights to good Americans only, and to create international opportunities throughout the world to develop inexpensive manufacturing for American companies.
FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government, and I believe we must use any means necessary, including lies, smears, voter suppression, federal police, the Secret Service, warrantless spying, even the destruction of lives and reputations, to progress our God-endorsed agenda.
Frank Schaeffer, author of the memoir that explains his (now regretted) part in helping the evangelicals take over the Republican Party titled "Crazy for God," describes our current Party well in his Huffington Post blog. The Republican Party has been taken over by The Religious Right, The Neoconservative Movement, and Corporate Business Interests.
Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, has also left the Republican Party with a scathing indictment of the McCain campaign and the current GOP leadership.
Many moderate Republicans still do not realize what has happened. They believe the Republican Party is still the same. They follow the Republican rhetoric of today because they haven't stopped to see the hypocrisy, the contradictions, and the slowly-changed priorities. Those moderate Republicans still supporting McCain are unwitting participants in an entirely new agenda.
This is why you have middle class Republicans screaming that there should be more tax breaks for the rich, but tax breaks for the middle class are socialism. This is why, after 40 years of Republicans doing nothing to reduce abortions, pro-lifers are still voting for Republicans with the insane hope that this time they'll do something. This is why Christian Republicans are supporting a Christian-in-name-only (McCain) against a fellow brother in Christ (Obama). And this is why a completely unqualified hockey mom can be touted as the "future of the Republican Party," simply because she spews out the proper talking points and wants to use courts and police forces to end abortion while eliminating programs that reduce unwanted pregnancies that lead to abortions.
I spoke with a young African-American Democrat at an Obama rally last month and he was shocked to learn where the GOP came from and the progressive programs we spearheaded. So, a little history of the Republican Party is in order. Don't skip it if you think you know our history, because you probably don't.
The Republican Party was created in 1854 as an anti-slavery party. Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the interstate highway system, worked to integrate black and white public schools nationwide, and expanded Social Security. Republicans pushed through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Richard Nixon sat down with Communist China and the Soviet Union "without preconditions" and negotiated new trade and arms agreements, expanded Social Security, tried to pass minimum wage and universal health care plans (unsuccessfully), created the EPA and OSHA, and created The Philadelphia Plan, which was the U.S. government's first affirmative action program. President Gerald Ford pushed through the Equal Rights Amendment, proclaiming, "In this Land of the Free, it is right, and by nature it ought to be, that all men and all women are equal before the law."
Does this sound like the party of Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin? Is this the kind of progress you hear from Republicans while promoting McCain on the news today? How did our Party get to this point? A little more history is in order, which again will probably surprise (and possibly anger) most Republicans.
President Reagan was the first president in American history to lower the highest tax rate and raise the lowest tax rate, beginning a shift in tax burden to the middle class that has continued through to the "Bush Tax Cuts." Reagan increased the national debt from $700 billion to $3 trillion. Reagan was the first Republican President to truly court the evangelical vote, moving the Republican platform far to the right. Reagan's coalition with evangelical leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson and others began the anti-Democracy tactics of voter suppression of the poor and minorities. Paul Weyrich, a cofounder of the Moral Majority, said,
"Many of our Christians have what I call the 'goo goo' syndrome -- good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
Clearly, Ronald Reagan was doing what he thought was best for the country, and had no idea what evil would be wrought by allowing the Religious Right a seat at the GOP table. Reagan ended the Cold War, lead through a prosperous time in America, and made us safer than we'd been since before World War II. But an honest analysis shows that Reagan began the slide to the current neoconservative Party.
President George H. W. Bush attempted to overturn Reagan's borrow and spend legacy but was unsuccessful. Bush also ended the Kuwait-Iraq war quickly as befits Republican principles.
Under President Clinton, even as he balanced the budget and reformed welfare, the Republican leadership accelerated their right wing agenda using Clinton's "liberalism" as fear-based propaganda. By the time George W. Bush won the 2000 Republican nomination by pandering to the evangelicals against John McCain's centrist campaign, the religious right was firmly in control. However, most Republicans, including myself, continued to believe the Party supported the more moderate principles it still claimed to advocate.
Today, the Republican Party is a ghost of its original self. The Bush administration and Republican Congress increased the size of government, increased debt spending, pulled us into an unnecessary war, squandered our reputation internationally, violated our civil rights, reinterpreted the Constitution, attacked a non-threatening sovereign country, tortured prisoners, enabled monopolies and large corporations to crush individual initiatives, gave additional tax cuts only for the rich at the expense of the middle class, and destroyed any remaining trust Americans had in the government. The current GOP campaign is using lawyers to suppress Democratic votes, using hate, lies and smears, and has adopted an "ends justify the means" scorched-earth campaign that is literally destroying our Democratic system.
It's no wonder reasonable, tolerant, progressive Republicans are jumping ship, while new recruits to the Republican Party are diminishing. Why would anyone other than an extreme right wing evangelical Christian or selfish wealthy American even consider joining such a platform?
Some people are trying to fix the Republican Party from the inside, such as the Republican Leadership Council. But I believe this is a lost cause, as signaled by conservative Christopher Buckley's forced resignation from The National Review, the magazine his father founded, for endorsing Barack Obama for President. The "you're either with us or against us" neoconservatives attack any dissenting opinion with violent rhetoric or even actual violence. Frankly, the Republican Party leadership will not allow reform or change.
It is time that we moderate Republicans join together to form a new political party. Moving to the Democratic Party is not an option for most of us, as they have their own issues, with a general move to the extreme left only countered by Senator Obama's centrist policies.
What can we call our new party? The word "Republican" should remain in our name, in my opinion, to affirm our commitment to republicanism. "Progressive Republican Party" sounds great, but it's the name of a party in Turkey. This is not necessarily a game stopper, but "Moderate Republican Party" is acceptable and is only similar to the "Republican Moderate Party of (ironically) Alaska." I've tossed out the humorous names of Orthodox Republicans or The Legitimate Republican Party as being too sarcastic. Whatever the name, here are the principles I propose it be founded on:
The essence of Republicanism, the foundation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, is that all people have inalienable rights that cannot be voted away by a majority of voters, which is the essential difference between a Republic and a Democracy;
It is the duty of government to be fiscally responsible with the people's money via balanced budgets, efficient administration of duties and programs, and minimal debt;
Government should defer functions to the private sector and community organizations whenever it better serves citizens as long as functions are monitored and regulated to prevent corruption and waste;
The Constitution and Bill of Rights are to be defended in full, regardless of short term popular fears or desires, with special attention to the intent of the original authors and signers;
The government shall respect individual liberty and personal privacy, regulating personal behavior only when directly required for the safety and liberty of others;
No person is above the Rule of Law, especially our elected representatives and their appointments;
Taxes are at best a necessary evil and shall be kept as low as possible for all citizens, based on conservative stewardship and minimal spending;
A strong national defense shall be maintained, with a reluctance to enter into foreign entanglements and a permanent ban on all military activities against American citizens or on American soil;
As an active participant on the world stage, we shall have a planned, consistent, proactive foreign policy that promotes friendship and cooperation, plus full engagement with our enemies;
Government shall work towards total independence from foreign countries in all essential areas, including energy, food, defense, and intelligence;
We shall be responsible stewards of our national natural resources through environmental awareness, including an understanding of our effect on the planet and the planet's effect on our nation;
Free enterprise and innovation shall be promoted, with a focus on protecting individuals and small businesses from monopolies, oligopolies, and unfair competition from large corporations;
It is the obligation of our elected officials and their appointees to reject campaign or other contributions that are meant to influence agendas in any way, and to make all decisions based solely on what is best for their constituents;
Recognizing that we are a union of states, no federal power shall be granted that can better be served closer to the people via state's rights;
The balance of power for all three branches of government shall be maintained, with recognition of the intent in forming our Republic to have representation closest to the people;
The Executive Branch shall execute laws as written by the Congress and will decline to use Executive Orders, Presidential Signing Statements or other tools to thwart the will of the people as indicated by their state's representatives;
The most essential principle is equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all.
Is it crazy for me, just some guy, a "Joe Six Pack" if you will, to try to form a new American political party? Probably. But let me know if you would like to join me, and pass this on to other disaffected Republicans. Let's start the discussion and see where it goes.