Amazing! Republican Party doesn’t grow roots until 126 years after it was born!

2009 June 5
by ruleoflawrestoration

 

It is impossible for me to count the number of times I have heard language recently about how the Republican Party needs to “return to its conservative roots”.

Now let me say right up front that the word “Conservative” is far too undefined for my taste.  But even so, when I hear that the Republican Party needs to “return to its conservative roots”, I naturally ask, “When was the Republican Party ‘conservative‘?”

I normally get one of two answers:

  1. When Ronald Reagan was in office.
  2. When it was formed in 1854.

I submit, however, that there is very little to boast about for either time period.  I’ll submit another piece shortly on the early Republican Party, but for now, I’ll speak to Reagan–a president with whom I am not particularly impressed because of his failures in defending and preserving the Constitution.  Please keep in mind as you read that this author is likely one of the most non-partisan people in the nation.  I call it like I see it, regardless of political party.   So I don’t look for Rs and Ds, rather, I look for obedience to the Constitution.  If you want a fresh perspective on US politics, just take a new look throughout history to see when the Constitution has been violated and when it has been obeyed.

Now on to my thoughts about Reagan.

Reagan is not lauded because he was a staunch constitutionalist; it is because he was an anomaly—a popular bright spot on a dull backdrop. The personality and substance of his presidency were unlike the Republican Party beforehand and afterward. He was unlike them, and they would never emulate him afterward.

Had he not been so keenly affectionate and firm—had he not been grandfatherly and resolute in his persona, we would certainly not hear so much praise for him today—even if his policies had been exactly the same otherwise.  America liked Ronald Reagan. That is the source of his popularity. It was not primarily because of his political prowess or his philosophy about the Constitution.

Remember, this is the same America that, even today, does not read its own Constitution, and that pretty much doesn’t care that we are a nation that does not follow its own laws. So what bragging rights are there in being merely likable? (When you’re the President, that is—not that being likable in itself is a bad thing.)

I imagine that America would quite enjoy having Dumbledore be President, too—even though he’s not a real person, not an American, and doesn’t know the Constitution, either.

Now that I’ve said all that—-Reagan did wow self-identified “conservatives” with some great one-liners, calling for (and even achieving) reform in various ways.  And in those one-liners were curiously born, we are now informed, the “conservative roots” of the Republican Party!  They were “roots” that didn’t seem to exist much before Reagan took office, and they certainly didn’t exist one minute after H.W. was sworn in. (Bush 41 began immediately to disassemble much of what Reagan accomplished. And in so doing, I believe that 41 was following the official direction of the Republican Party–the very ones who had made him Vice President.)

This is why I say Reagan was an anomaly. He was not the Republican Party; he was just a nice guy that the Republican Party allowed to be president once upon a time.

Since then, we often hear the self-proclaimed spokespersons for the Republican Party saying, “I miss Reagan”. Yet they cannot, for the life of them, seem to replicate the man? Nobody can be found to be like Reagan? No one? The fact of the matter is that the real Republican Party leadership does not at this time want anyone like Reagan with regard to his philosophy that “government is the problem”. Yes, they’d like someone as popular, but not someone as resolute on that particular issue.

With Reagan, I’ve noticed that people see what they want to see. Those who like his “conservative values” remember those with enthusiasm. And those who simply like the fact that he won the White House for the Republican Party are enthusiastic about that.  Some liked “Ronald Ray Gun”, and others liked his “Mister Gorbachev” challenge—and still others, who are generally critical, are quite willing to highlight his Iran/Contra scandal as if that is all there was to his administration.

Regardless, many now find it fashionable to refer to themselves as “Reagan Republicans” or “Reagan Conservatives”, but just what are they really claiming? Aren’t they claiming that they, too, are anomalies—afloat in a sea of “non-Reagan Republicans”? Aren’t they claiming to be “real” Republicans in a sea of “RINOs”? Are they somehow attesting to the hopelessness of meaningful party reform? (That is, that 8 years of Reagan did NOT reform the character of the Republican Party, and that many of his few improvements were immediately reversed by Bush 41.)

I think the appeal to Reagan’s name is not a definitive tactic, but an emotional one. People who claim to be “Reagan Republicans” may not necessarily be any more willing to take a firm stand on obedience to the Constitution than people who claim to be a “Carter Democrat” (OK, bad example, because I don’t think anybody claims that—but you get the idea.)  [And please remember that I shun both parties equally.]

It’s just talk. It says “I remember the warm feelings”. It does not say, “I’m ready to reform the Republican Party and the nation, too.”

But even so, what better time than now to say, “I’m a Reagan Republican”, since government is bigger and causing more trouble than ever. It will just as surely be said as there are sure to be plenty of unthinking people to find it a compelling sentiment.

What it will yield (at best), however, is a Republican sweep of the Congress in 2010. And then it will be the Republican Party’s chance, once again, to lead the way down the slippery slope of constitutional disobedience—which is exactly where the Party wanted to go before, during, and after Reagan.

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3 Responses leave one →
  1. June 6, 2009

    An excellent assessment of issues vs. personalities. I look forward to your revisit to the founding of the Republican party.

    -DHA-

  2. Mark W. Stroberg permalink
    July 2, 2009

    Jack,

    Good post, but in your admiration for Ronald Reagan you fail to point out the wide disparity between Reagan’s rhetoric and his policies. His legacy will forever be one of greatly expanded government and disdain for the Constitution. I support Ron Paul because he is so unlike Reagan in that he actually pays more than lip service to the Constitutional checks upon government growth that the founders intended.

    By the way, I began my political life as a Reagan Republican. Ronald Reagan was the first man running for President of the United States that I ever cast a ballot for (in the 1976 California Presidential primary election). It was, however, Reagan’s treasonous (to principle) selection of Richard Schweiker (one of the most liberal members of the Senate at the time) as his running mate at the nominating convention which caused me to abandon the Republican Party for 31 years. I did not return to my Republican roots until Ron Paul sought the Party’s nomination to run for President in 2008. I am giving it one more shot in 2012. If at that time the Party rejects Ron Paul or equivalent, I am through with politics altogether. I have already had it with the Libertarian Party now that they have been taken over by conservative (sorry Ron, you lost the definition battle) xenophobic warmongers.

    The Republican Party has rarely stood for anything other than big government tyranny. Their spokespeople tend to be more libertarian rhetorically when they are out of power, but they never fully relinquish their totalitarian tendencies. So why am I still registered to vote as a Republican? Because the Party is in disarray and is ripe for a takeover. If Ron Paul runs again in 2012 and some of his followers get elected to Congress in 2010, there may yet be hope.

    Mark

  3. gailkatherine permalink
    April 29, 2010

    I gave up on the Rep Party in 1964 when the party’s money interests deserted the candidate because of his conservatism. It was quite a thrill when they replayed his acceptance speech along with Reagan’s so I could record it. Extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice!

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