… And it has nothing to do with Paul Ryan or President Obama
The American poor aren’t the only one who needed some sort of life support program; the Republican Party needs one too.
For too long, the Republican Party has been stuck with the social tag of “conservative.” What many pundits forget is that Republican doesn’t define conservative, conservative defines itself. No one party has ever owned the moniker “conservative” or “liberal” in our history.
Conservative thinkers throughout American history settled with the status quo. They fought to maintain things the way they were. Rocking the boat is a cardinal sin in conservative scripture.
Liberal thinkers on the other hand have sought change. These people saw issues in society and worked to rectify the crisis. “It’s just always been that way” is a phrase never spoken by the liberal.
By this definition, the Republicans of the 1850s through 1877 were ideal liberals. Slavery, women’s rights, and voting rights were at the top of their agendas. It was the Southern Democrat that wanted America to sit idly by and allow archaic traditions to reign supreme. They resisted the growth of American industry. Their venom towards emancipation bordered on acrid poison. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most liberal Republicans and during the Great Depression, one could find staunchly liberal Republicans governing New York, Massachusetts, and California.
The modern liberal Democrat wouldn’t come of age until the 1930s with FDR. And, it was FDR’s policies in the late 30s that would alienate a large portion of the conservative Democrats causing them to switch parties. Since then, the parties grew into the current state we have today.
Since the Republican Party won the Presidency in 1968, there hasn’t been a “conservative” anti-government president. Nixon expanded the role of government, Reagan, despite his claims, did the same. GWB grew government twice the size of both Nixon and Reagan. In their own way, these Republicans became liberals. They are all Eisenhowers; when presented with the chance to derail and destroy the liberal policies of FDR and Truman, Ike opted to keep, and in some cases, expand, them. He is the first Modern Republican, a compromising libservative. However, none of these moderate Conservatives would be able to get the vote of their own party in an election today. An ideological status quo is growing via the Tea Party. These nouveau-Republicans expand the notion of status quo to status nil.
Unfortunately for the current Republican Party, the status quo won’t do. The notion of Alexander Hamilton’s fight to protect American industry and allow a free market to run success has shown its flaws. Just look to Reagan’s deregulation of the airline industry (begun by Nixon, established by Carter in 1978, and continued by Reagan). Sure, airline prices have fallen slightly based on inflation adjusted accounting, but how many airlines are there today? We went from six legacy carriers to three. Deregulation was supposed to assist a free market, prevent oligopolies, and provide a better service for the traveler. The exact opposite has happened.
The other banner of the Republican Party, one that I do subscribe to, is that of a smaller role for the Federal Government. However, I am willing to admit that since the inception of public welfare programs established during President Johnson’s Great Society, far too many people have come to depend on the assistance provided. To pull the plug, as the Republicans would have, would be sentencing millions to misery. However, we have yet to really see a Republican conservatively cut Federal bureaucracies. They may trim one, only to expand another. For Republicans, this is a deeply troubling concept. Most Republicans I know claim to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal. How can a Republican be socially liberal and want smaller government?
Romney’s Conservative Party needs to be hyper-adaptive, ready for change in order to be successful. He needs to find a way to temper the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers. Ideally, he needs to show today’s Conservative that they need to embrace America’s new ideology, find a new relationship with the middle class, and define a new, manageable means to reign in America’s growing debt while streamlining social programs through bipartisan politics. Unfortunately, the party of Reagan and Bush is still stuck in the status quo, and quickly fading into an ideological status nil.