Courtesy of the Associated Press and Carolyn Kester
Right up front let me say what I am NOT including in such a provocative headline. I exclude the millions of good Republican American citizens who have always been so upstanding and who are so beloved. I am also excluding the idea that we should not have a solid conservative party for our nation built along traditional lines with sensible candidates like John McCain, Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, Thomas E. Dewy and especially Dwight David Eisenhower. Steve Schmidt, the man who made the mistake in the Sara Palin VP choice and a wise counselor nevertheless, would not disagree with me.
I am excluding a host of conservative ideas such as a strong national defense, fiscal responsibility, and a broad yet inclusive set of values based around the many definitions of the American family. A moral center or moral compass is excluded from that which must be abandoned. The best of America expressed by Abraham Lincoln when he spoke of “the better Angels of our nature,” must not be thrown away. Notably it was Lincoln who is the founder of the GOP as it was. I am not telling Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton, though it would be a more responsible vote if they chose to do so.
The Republican Party in choosing Donald J. Trump has given voice to the worst instincts our nation possesses. His permissive stance for bigotry toward minorities and people who are simply different than the white majority in the nation has encouraged white supremacists to say what they want to say and end political correctness. The reason we have a speech standard in polite society is simply that demonizing people who are American citizens is mean spirited and divisive. But it is not just Donald J. Trump that is the problem.
The Tea Party conservatives who we have been electing over more traditional establishment candidates since 2010 lack the judgment and common sense we expect of anyone we put in our Congress. This is NOT an argument for the establishment or the old status quo. Every American no matter what station in life, and no matter what race, ethnicity, religious preference, or even sexual orientation or gender ID knows that the gap between the wealthy and the mass of the citizenry, and the complete buying of our Congress by big corporations has produced an effect of pushing more and more of us into poverty. How can we “lift all boats,” if the political climate in the United States is so toxic and corrupt that the sea of real opportunity that Lincoln so valued has completely dried up?
The best conservatives in America who continue to want to work for an America that will truly be as a “city shining upon a hill” for the rest of the world, now must know that the continued rightward drift to avoid being “primaried out” by Tea Party conservatives has been an experiment that has absolutely failed, and has materially damaged and impoverished our country.
That experiment has harmed our nation simply because it ultimately is an appeal to ignorance, fear, and blind hatreds unseen since our Civil War. What has made so many Republicans so good is their refusal to show fear and to fight ignorance wherever it is.
In the convention hall there have actually been attacks with the words “a distant intellectual elite” and Trump’s appeal to love the ignorant. Republicans on all levels have abandoned the wise idea of a universal free public education. They have done nothing but attack the integrity of the public school teachers striving every day to educate our children to the best of their ability, but with dwindling educational resources. Sectarian schools are not the problem either. In the past, in the depths and grave challenges of the Cold War it was a Republican, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and like-minded Republicans on the state level, who knew our nation must be educated second to none. They boldly spent public funds and raised taxes to educate our nation.
Thomas Jefferson, one of our best Presidents, knew of the deep connection of an educated citizenry to a properly functioning democracy to the point of its very survival. Tea Party conservatives and those who live in states where education has not been funded properly or where access to higher education has been discouraged or denied are equally capable of pursuing education and achieving. It is NOT a matter of political party. No one made Tea Party Conservatives less intellectually endowed. It has been made something to strive for. Yes, we now strive in many places in our country to be ignorant. Esquire columnist Charles Pierce has dubbed this our “idiocracy.”
The collateral damage from Republican efforts to destroy teachers’ Unions and to via austerity to spend less on public colleges and universities and to fund American college students has produced a large number of people whose ignorance has left them open to fear, despair, and to a cynicism about the very concept of a democracy within a republic so that they are now poised on “strangling it in a bathtub.”
The Republican Party has come to rely more and more on people who fear those who are different, and to celebrate a vast sea of ignorance of the outside world. The xenophobic nativism so toxic in present day America contracts our horizons, and dims our insight and wisdom. Instead of embracing immigrants whose talents and cultural IQ’s can permit us to fight terrorism more effectively, as we condemn these people and materially raise the risks of people radicalizing themselves and becoming radical terrorists who still profess Islam that over a billion and more of its adherents to that faith reject. It also fuels the anger and ignorance of Christian white domestic terrorists. I’ll say the words Radical Islamic Terrorism to affirm my commitment to elect leaders who will fight the war on terror vigorously, but more intelligently.
There is still so much to hope for in a healthy conservative major party for America. Every single Democrat and liberal or leftist American must also retain hope that our conservatives will re-establish the best of conservative ideology—not its worst. At present, intelligent, compassionate, empathetic, and thoughtful Americans of conservative bent can re-establish conservatism’s moral compass.
Support for free enterprise and a flawed, yet a capitalist system that is still better than pure socialism or communism is still wiser and a better promoter of liberty. Yet, unregulated or unrestrained corporate capitalism has made our system more selfish, greedy and irresponsible. There is solid conservative ground for conservatives to stand on and where a delicate balance between regulation and wise corporate policy can reside.
The long- time aversion of conservatives to raising taxes has been just as problematic as any liberal tax-and- spend scheme to rising levels of both the deficit and national debt in modern American history. We have to pay for programs we fund rather than just letting the debt pile up. Both our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were totally unfunded with corresponding rises in our nation’s debts. Yet, even conservatives must better recognize what the nation needs to spend for an improving infrastructure both mental and physical, and a national defense that is both strong, second to none, but is also fiscally more responsible ought to be necessities for conservatives.
The wastage within the Department of Defense and a huge black budget are where waste and misuse of our tax money is so vast that it makes it more difficult to expand and strengthen our military and to give our military personnel what they need to win and survive. The problem here is fully bi-partisan.
Yet again we are drawn to Eisenhower who left office warning of the “military industrial complex.” We have forgotten our founder’s aversion to too strong a standing army. We have since 1898, increasingly become in effect and impact a neo-imperialist hegemonic power. Being number one does not entitle us or wisely serve us in meeting the authentic threats to our national defense. Nor is it mutually exclusive to our commitments to our Allies and friends around the world. Something Trump says he will cast aside.
During the Johnson Great Society it was in social programs. But those programs have been cut to the bone since Ronald Reagan was president a generation ago. The party now views both Social Security and Medicare as selfish entitlements when Americans have paid and are paying their wages and salaries into the programs, with no other better options for old age once they must retire. Rank-in-file conservatives want a more vibrant and expanded program.
They absolutely oppose cutting them. I recall my parents both stodgy conservative Republicans writing a letter to Ronald Reagan, a man they enthusiastically voted for who in the spring of 1981 floated the idea of cutting Social Security and perhaps Medicare. They bluntly told Reagan that this was a horrible idea and one that would not actually materially help to rein in spending. They mailed that letter. Evidently there were a lot of Reagan Republicans who agreed with them. It died as a lead balloon.
The entire Republican National Convention of 2016 has been an abject failure or an “epic fail” as millennials would say. Its ignorance, lies, fear and hatreds are there for all to see. This is an embarrassment to our nation. The world is watching and they wonder where the United States they have always known has gone. Democrats for all their problems have not engendered such fears and worries.
There must be a reckoning. There must be a heroic effort to change the direction of conservatives in America. Hate simply misuses too much of the creative and positive energies of our nation to give any hope of progress along civilized lines and with more confidence in the efficacy of our democracy, and of the kind of civil government that reclaims the social contract and the common good.
Republicans must re-claim their party via the expression of a more flexible and wise conservatism whose expanses can, as in former times, promise us an America that an equally creative and expansive Ronald Reagan said he was for by intoning “its morning in America.” It is now deep midnight. Presently, it would be more proper to say “its mourning the loss of America.”
Conservatives must find their moral compass or to acquire one if they have none. We need a new Republican Party. Let me name it in words: The New Republicans. God bless our nation and all American citizens.