The Last Real Republicans

It seems to me….

Too often, it seems, conservatives have scorned experts as incompetent, biased, or otherwise worth ignoring because they came up with answers that didn’t fit their politically desired answer. Often, they proclaim experts have a liberal bias. Of course, plenty of Democrats have voted for conservative ideas, but that is beside the point.” ~ Kurt Eichenwald[1].

The Republican Party essentially died quite a few years ago. It was formed in 1860 as the more liberal of the U.S.’s political parties with an agenda that included abolition of slavery. But in the last 50 years, the entirety of American politics has shifted so far to the right that what previously was thought of as conservative, what formerly was considered a conservative position, would now be off-the-charts left extremist.

While in a slow steady decline for many years, the end came relatively suddenly following the election of an obnoxious orange-haired narcissist as President leaving a mere shell of the party that now exists in name only having abandoned its traditional values and principles. Perhaps the last honest Republicans are what now would be referred to as “Eisenhauer Republicans”.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of the last traditional Republicans. He was a moderate conservatist and center right on most issue in a more general cultural and sociological sense: he spent the overwhelming majority of his life in the military and came from the U.S. Midwest with a family background that was both respectably WASP and solidly middle class. He refused to cut taxes and supported what remained of the “New Deal”, a series of domestic social programs enacted between 1933 and 1938. The “Eisenhower Republican” has been extinct for many years – today’s closest equivalent would be considered a “Moderate Democrat”.

He was President when the top tax bracket for the most wealthy people in this country was 92 percent. Defending that tax bracket, he said we cannot afford to reduce taxes until “the factors of income and outgo will be balanced”. Eisenhower insisted there must be a balanced budget and that taxes on the rich were the way to balance it.

Eisenhower, “Ike” as he was known, was one of the last great honest Republicans. He made his share of mistakes (including Iran, Guatemala…) but he was a man of the people and tried to always tell the truth.

In the last half century, the U.S. has veered so far to the right that many current Republicans would attack commitments expressed in the Republican Party’s 1956 election platform as “leftist” or even “socialistic”.

In 1956, the Republican Party platform proudly stated, “Republican action created the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years”. Today, many Republicans advocate the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education.

The 1956 Republican Party platform[2] called for:

  • Provide federal assistance to low-income communities:

Now, Republicans propose that the federal government scale back any involvement in the housing finance system, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and that it “reconsider the utility” of those government-sponsored entities (GSEs) alleging their current business model is corrupt since taxpayers are liable for losses while shareholders and executives benefit from profits.

  • Protect Social Security:

How beliefs have changed. In 1956 the Republican Party proudly stated that “Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6.5 million”. President Eisenhower stated “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things, but their number is negligible and they are stupid”. Now, many Republicans are opposed to any Social Security expansion and many in the party support abolishing it entirely.

  • Provide asylum for refugees:

That was then. Now, many Republicans are seeking to immediately ban all refugees from resettling in the U.S. regardless of country of origin or personal profile.

  • Extend minimum wage:

In 1956, the Republican Party promised to “extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as possible and practicable”. They boasted that under Eisenhower “the Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers” and they would “maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts”. Now, the Republican Party advocates the repeal of prevailing wage laws and to significantly cut the pay of millions of workers.

  • Improve unemployment benefit system so it covers more people:

The Republican Party in 1956 called for expansion of Social Security, broadening unemployment insurance, and providing better health protection for “all of our people”. It boasted that under Eisenhower “the protection of unemployment insurance had been extended to 4 million additional workers”. Now, the Republican Party wants to end unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

  • Strengthen labor laws so workers can more easily join a union:

In 1956, the Republican Party said their firm and permanent policy was “the protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively” proudly stately that under Eisenhower “unions have grown in strength and responsibility and have increased their membership by 2 million”. Now, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said that abolishing the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency in charge of protecting the rights of workers, would be considered “progress”. Republican Governors and legislators have undermined collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other states.

  • Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of sex:

Last year, every Republican in the Senate voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act intended to assure equal pay for equal work.

Back then, Republicans also called for an expansion of voting rights to additional citizens including full voting civil rights for those living in Washington, D.C. Now they are actively attempting to enact more stringent voter-ID laws disproportionately impacting minority voters.

The 1956 Republican platform called for a balanced budget and continual study of additional ways to correct inequities in the effect of various taxes. It was Dwight Eisenhower who was the last Republican to preside over a balanced budget. (It was Ronald Reagan who in 1982 passed the largest peacetime tax increase in U.S. history not associated with conflict or a major economic crisis.)

It is difficult to foresee what lies in store for the future of the Republican Party. Following one of the most bitter and divisive Presidential election campaigns in U.S. history, it is difficult to foresee what, if any, long-term effects there will be to the Republican Party. Political parties are mortal just as are individuals, corporations, or institutions. Trump fragmented his party sufficiently to where it possibly might not survive in its recent past form. He has successfully brought many new voters into the party, some previously registered as Democrats, but he also has alienated many in the traditional Republican party base. While not highly probable, some pundits have even predicted the Party’s demise[3].

This is not the first time in the U.S. this has happened: the Republican Party was created by divisions within the Whig Party. Political parties also morph into entirely different personalities. It is not just the Republican party that has changed; Democrats originally were pro-slavery conservatives.

Given Trump’s narcistic egomania, it is doubtful he will quietly return to running his corporation following his term as President. He stated his opposition to both the Republican Party platform and the Party’s leaders from the start of his campaign instead attempting to remake it into a populist, nationalist party his then Breitbart-oriented advisors preferred rather than the conservative free market, limited government, entitlement reform, and assertive foreign policy of traditional Republican Party leaders.

He repeatedly claimed in campaign speeches that the elections were “rigged”, the media lied, reporting could not be believed, and that Clinton belonged in jail. It is unfortunate that many of his supporters sufficiently believed everything he said that possible protest and insurgency over unsatisfactory election results might have occurred if he had lost.

How far the Republican Party has fallen. It has sacrificed its soul and morality for ideological expedience and now has become “Republican” in name only – in reality it has swung into that form of rightwing extremism previously the domain of neofascists.

Many Republicans derisively label other more moderate Republicans as “RINOs” (Republicans In Name Only), when in reality it is those moderates who adhere more closely to what is long-established Republican ideology. The Republican Party once was compassionate and considerate of those less fortunate and in need; now it has become indifferent, callous, and unsympathetic. It is time for the party to purge itself of those purveyors of animosity, intolerance, and discord and reembrace its traditional values.

The Republican Party has become it own evil caricature. There are many former Republicans, including myself, that did not leave the Party – it left us.

That’s what I think, what about you?


[1] Kurt Alexander Eichenwald is an American journalist and a bestselling author of four books, one of which, The Informant, was made into a motion picture in 2009. He formerly was a writer and investigative reporter with The New York Times, Condé Nast‘s business magazine, Portfolio, and later a contributing editor with Vanity Fair and a senior writer with Newsweek.

[2] Republican Party Platform of 1956, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25838, 20 August 1956.

[3] Zakaria, Fareed. The GOP Is History. What About The Country, The Washington Post, https://fareedzakaria.com/2016/10/13/the-gop-is-history-what-about-the-country/, 13 October 2016.

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About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Asylum, Budget, Budget, Campaign, Conservatives, Debt, Debt, Deficit, Deficit, Deficit, Department of Education, Dwight Eisenhower, Eisenhower, Elections, Equal Pay, Fannie Mae, Federal Housing Administration, FHA, Freddie Mac, Government-Sponsored Entities, GSEs, Guatemala, Iran, Minimum Wage, National, New Deal, Paycheck Fairness Act, Platform, Presidential, Refugee, Republican, Ronald Reagan, Social Security, Taxes, Taxes, Taxes, Unemployment, Unions, Washington, Whig Party and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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