I am a registered Republican. I believe in a lean, efficient government, measured social change, and accountability. These were once the principles that governed the party, leading some of the United State’s greatest presidents and lawmakers to truly make this nation the greatest on the planet. Unfortunately, in the leadup to the 1980 presidential election, the patron saint of the modern Republican Party, facing a tough election, threw all of that away by embracing the religious right. At this point, the Republican Party that helped to make this the great nation it was died. The party began to move further and further right, regarding suggestions from across the aisle with contempt and even hatred. Discourse broke down, and then the final blow came when Barack Obama was elected to the Presidency. He was elected in 2008, and took office in January 2009, during an extreme economic recession, caused by actions of administrations before him, most notably Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall act, and George W. Bush’s War on Terror without a corresponding tax increase to pay for it. These, along with tax and social policy decisions made by presidents before then, both weakened the economy and allowed the wealthiest elite to gamble with the money of the American people. In order to combat this, President Bush signed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) into law in 2008, which bailed out the very banks that had destroyed the housing market and much of the national economy. TARP was deeply unpopular among the American people, as it appeared that it was rewarding the very organizations that had caused the crisis. When President Obama took office in January 2009, my party, desperate to avoid blame for this, laid all of this at the incoming president’s feet. The middle class, upset at these trends, formed what would become the “Tea Party”, and our politics have never since been able to recover.
The Tea Party was a conservative movement defined by opposition: opposition to taxes, to big government, to immigration and many other issues. The movement gained a great amount of power very quickly, playing on the average American’s anger at the government allowing the crisis to happen in the first place. As the movement grew, it became more and more defined by anger and opposition, and was pushed further and further right by pundits and news agencies, most notably Glenn Beck and his (then) home network: Fox News. Sarah Palin, the nearly one-term governor of Alaska, became the symbolic voice of the movement, which claimed no leadership, and in 2010, the movement all but took over the Republican Party, winning a massive upset in the House of Representatives. Senator Mitch McConnell, then the Senate Minority Leader, following this massive upset, gave an interview that would become, whether it was his intent or not, became the new guiding principle of the Republican Party. Speaking of the upcoming 2010 midterm elections, and the growing power of the Tea Party, McConnell stated that the public wanted change from its current course, and gave the quote: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” (Source: Washington Post, original article behind paywall). He goes on to say that he wanted the president to meet them halfway on these issues, including stating: “I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change”, but with the evidence since, there is serious reason to doubt the sincerity of the second statement. The reality of politics following have shown that the first statement to be far more true than the second, given that the party he represents subsequently refused to allow the government to function, opposing as a matter of course anything that anyone from the Democratic Party proposed, even allowing the government to shut down several times in the following years over the Debt Ceiling, which, contrary to the popular belief that it allows the government to borrow more money, simply affirms that the government will pay its debts. This has hurt our nation in ways that are still being felt, especially in our credibility in the rest of the world.
Partisan gridlock has only increased since in 2016, when the Republican Party took the presidency, as well as a majority in the House and Senate. Now that the Republicans control the government, it became their time to show us, the people, what it actually stood for, not against. It is easy to say “No” when your opponents propose something, but once you have control, it is time to advance your agenda and policies. Since then, the only major legislation passed by this party was a massive tax reform designed to support only the donors who paid for their campaigns. All of the issues that the Republicans stood against, the Affordable Healthcare Act (commonly known as Obamacare), illegal immigration, and moving jobs overseas, issues that they are now in a position to act on, have been ignored and gridlocked by an increasingly fractured party. This shows who this party really serves, not the Americans that elected them, but the plutocrats who’s only objective is to become richer off the backs of the American people.
As I stated at the top of this piece, I am a Republican. It is the party that gave us, in my opinion, our greatest president: Dwight Eisenhower. I hold the ideals of a limited, efficient government that works to ensure the freedom and well-being of its citizens very close to my heart. However, when you love something, sometimes it becomes necessary to point out when it has lost its way. The party’s guiding principles have become overshadowed by posturing and rhetoric, and as such, exists now as a shadow of its former self, kept alive by hatred of anyone not involved, and marginalization of moderates like me, calling us RINOs, short for Republican In Name Only, because we refuse to buy the lies that keep them in office. We stick to our principles, but also recognize that the government cannot function without cooperation. In the next piece, we will discuss some of these lies that the modern Republicans keep peddling, and why we cannot allow them to keep going. Stay tuned.