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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Republicans - Leaderless, Rudderless and Consumed by Rage

Republicans, or the Grand Old Party (now the Grumpy Old Party) were, once upon a time, a breeding ground for conservative, albeit, ethical leadership.  

House Speaker John Boehner certainly fails the leadership needed to break the party's ties with extremist T-Party zealots.

In fact, the Republican Party gained support as an ethical alternative to the Know Knowthing Party, which was really a refuge for people in the radical right wing Ku Klux Klan.  Republicans once stood for something right, but not "right wing".

Founded in the Northern states in 1854 by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, ex-Whigs, and ex-Free Soilers, the Republican Party quickly became the principal opposition to the dominant Southern Democratic Party and the briefly popular Know Nothing Party. The main cause was opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise by which slavery was kept out of Kansas. The Northern Republicans saw the expansion of slavery as a great evil. The first public meeting where the name "Republican" was suggested for a new anti-slavery party was held on March 20, 1854 in a schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin.

How is it, therefore, that a political movement, founded on high minded principles, has managed to turn itself inside out? 

Today's Republicans act more like the party they were founded to oppose.  They turn a blind eye to poverty rather than share the wealth of our Capitalist economy; they oppose immigration reform unless, of course, the immigrants want to live in America like they're indentured servants, rather than citizens and they would just as soon secede from the United States, rather than compromise their right wing extremist principles.  These mean spirited attributes are a description of the party the Republicans were created to oppose.  

Abraham Lincoln and Dwight David Eisenhower would not recognize today's Republican Party. They were principled party leaders.  

Lincoln, of course, made huge political sacrifices and was eventually martyred because he led the nation into the Civil War, to eliminate slavery.  

Eisenhower led the nation through a Civil Rights crisis during the integration of the schools in Little Rock Arkansas, because the segregated South continued to hold to the principle of white supremacy, ignoring the Supreme Court school integration ruling.  

Eisenhower and the Little Rock (Integration) Crisis President Eisenhower, who was vacationing in Newport, Rhode Island, arranged to meet Arkansas Governor Faubus there to discuss the tense situation in Little Rock. In their meeting, Eisenhower thought Faubus agreed to enroll African American students in the Little Rock schools, so he told Faubus that his National Guard troops could stay at Central High and enforce order. Once back in Little Rock, however, Governor Faubus withdrew the National Guard. A few days later, 9 African American students slipped into the school to enroll and a full scale riot erupted. The situation quickly ran out of control, as Governor Faubus did nothing to stop the violence. Finally, the Little Rock mayor appealed directly to President Eisenhower for help. Eisenhower acted boldly. He placed the Arkansas National Guard under federal control and sent 1,000 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division to assist them in restoring order in Little Rock. The daring tactic worked and the African American students were enrolled without further violent disturbances. The Supreme Court law was upheld. Nevertheless, Eisenhower was criticized both by those who felt he had not done enough to ensure civil rights for African Americans and those who believed he had gone too far in asserting federal power over the states. History has proven Eisenhower's decision was right.  He was a Republican who was also a leader.  

This is what President Eisenhower said to the American people on September 24, 1957:

Good Evening, My Fellow Citizens: For a few minutes this evening I want to speak to you about the serious situation that has arisen in Little Rock. To make this talk I have come to the President’s office in the White House. I could have spoken from Rhode Island, where I have been staying recently, but I felt that, in speaking from the house of Lincoln, of Jackson and of Wilson, my words would better convey both the sadness I feel in the action I was compelled today to take and the firmness with which I intend to pursue this course until the orders of the Federal Court at Little Rock can be executed without unlawful interference."Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts,” said President Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his 1957 address on Little Rock, Arkansas.

Clearly, today's Republican party has no leaders like Lincoln and Eisenhower. As a result, Republicans are a party without direction, rudderless, flailing around like there're lost at sea, without a compass.  Extremists have taken over the GOP, like a band of pirates ransacking a ghost ship.

What's worse, Republican moderates act like hostages, rather than patriots.  They're unable to fix the party, while the situation continues to worsen.

Eleanor Clift writes in the Daily Beast how Republicans are in a Kamikase mode. In other words, they appear to be self destructing.

Similarly, like Kamikase pilots who crashed and burned, Republicans are taking the party down along with them, while creating a dangerous political impact crater.  Many right wing minded people are falling into this slippery crater. Most of them may never climb out, because they need a leader to show them the way up the slippery slope into which they've fallen.

Clift reports:  "The Republican Party...(has taken) a sharp turn to the rightconfounding more moderate voices who have been urging the party to re-brand itself after last year’s (2012) election loss. A Tea Party rally outside the US Capitol Thursday captured the defiant mood with the far right maligning the "merely right". Talk-show host (and right wing extremistGlenn Beck called the GOP “the Whig party,” with John Boehner the head Whig for appearing open to compromise. There were cries of “learn English” when Florida Republican Mario Diaz-Balart spoke a few words of Spanish from the podium. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, once a Tea Party favorite, didn’t attend the rally. Part of the Gang of Eight working on a bipartisan immigration bill, Rubio's name drew loud boos."

This incendiary scene described by Clift is as dangerous a rally as any Ku Klux Klan gathering, only without the shroud of hooded demons and absent the rage of fire and brimstone cross burning.  But, the intent of the Tea Party is exactly the same as a Ku Klux Klan terrorism gathering. These right wing extremists are acting like the pro-slavery, white supremacy groups the Republicans were once determined to oppose.

Where are the Republicans who once stood up for something?  Where are you?  Help Wanted:  a few decent minded, ethical, righteous and civil rights minded Republicans, paaleeze stand up and take charge of your leaderless and rudderless political party, before the zealots consume even more people into their incendiary rage. 

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