Today, Americans confront the social, economic and political upheavals of globalization. In such chaotic days of angst and anger, some embrace ideological fads and factions, and abandon traditional institutions of order. The result is more chaos.
Thus, while America battles a global recession and a war for freedom against terrorism, the case for Republican unity must be reaffirmed.
The party of Lincoln and Reagan is an enduring institution of order, justice and freedom, despite varying platforms. In Lincoln’s time, the GOP was the progressive alternative to Democrats’ conservatism. In Reagan’s time, the GOP was the conservative alternative to Democrats’ “progressivism.” In the interim, as today, the GOP’s reformers and conservatives needed to be reconciled and united.
Enter Theodore Roosevelt: “I am a Republican pure and simple, neither a ‘half-breed’ nor a ‘stalwart.’” In 1884, however, TR’s struggle for party harmony proved elusive when, despite his strenuous opposition, the “crook” James G. Blaine garnered the presidential nomination. Disgusted, GOP reformers bolted the party to support Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland, and assumed their fellow reformer TR would follow. He did not:
“I am by inheritance and education a Republican; whatever good I have been able to accomplish in public life has been accomplished through the Republican Party. I have acted with it in the past, and wish to act with it in the future. I went as a regular delegate to the Chicago convention, and I intend to abide by the outcome of that convention.”
TR campaigned for Blaine; but the splintered GOP lost to Cleveland — the first Democrat elected President since the Civil War. Like the current contest in NY-23, TR’s putting “party loyalty above principle” irked many, as Nathan Miller records:
“The mugwumps were shocked and dismayed by Roosevelt ’s decision. Men who had praised him as the conscience of the Republican Party and its hope for the future now considered him a turncoat… In the end, Roosevelt suffered defeat on all fronts (and lamented that) ‘I do not believe that I shall ever be likely to come back into political life.’”
Fortunately for our country and party, TR later united the GOP’s disparate wings and is revered as the Republican “Rough Rider” not reviled as a “RINO.” Yes, he forgot his own history and bolted the party in 1912. The result was a splintered GOP’s loss to Woodrow Wilson — the first Democrat elected President since Grover Cleveland. (Oh, and under Wilson, America also got stuck with the beloved Federal Reserve System.)
As in TR’s time, the Republican Party must unite to stem the dysfunction of our daunting era. We can’t build a winning coalition on ideological quicksand. All Republicans must work within the party to unite, expand and renew it; not work outside it to purge, deplete and “recreate” it in one’s arbitrary image. Of course, the party is imperfect, because its members are imperfect human beings; however, this truth should disprove the present calls for GOP ideological purity and political perfection. Yet, if persist such impossible demands and their ideological advocates treat the Republican Party as a political hot tub to be entered or exited at will, the GOP will splinter; and the Left and chaos will reign.
To unite the GOP, our shared goal must be the continued expansion of sovereign citizens’ power to self-govern.
We live in a people powered world, one which is finally catching up to America ’s revolutionary experiment in human freedom and self-government. Therefore, in opposing the Democrats’ fossilized model of government-run everything that usurps self-government, Republicans embrace the communication revolution and a globalized market place that disdains and decentralizes massive, bureaucratic entities and empowers people as citizens and consumers. Consequently, we understand true reforms — be it in health care, the economy or the environment — must match, not resist, these economic and communications advances by decentralizing government to empower American citizens to channel the constructive changes needed to transcend today’s challenges.
To succeed, Republicans must unite around our party’s five enduring principles:
1. Our liberty is from God not the government;
2. Our sovereignty is in our souls, not the soil;
3. Our security is from strength not surrender;
4. Our prosperity is from the private sector not the public sector; and
5. Our truths are self-evident, not relative.
“Politics is the art of the possible.” The GOP must philosophically accept — not ideologically reject — members’ differing views of how to apply these permanent principles to present challenges. Republicans cannot indulge in intellectual rigidity and internecine purges that create more chaos. Only by uniting can the Republican Party and its enduring legacy as an institution of American order, justice and freedom lead our nation thorough globalization’s transformational challenges.
Doubtless, TR would agree. Recall that, while uniting the Republican Party’s warring factions to conquer the challenges of his times, TR was labeled “a brilliant madman born a century too soon.” He wasn’t. And his sagacity and party loyalty during his crazed age are just as necessary in ours.