As this is my first post here at Donklephant, I should start with a brief introduction. Iâ€™m an â€˜Illinois Republicanâ€™ who has spent the last decade living and working on the fringes of politics in Washington, DC. I previously wrote at â€˜The Yellow Lineâ€™ with Alan Stewart Carl and am excited to re-join him and the other contributors here at Donklephant.
So, as a self-described, â€˜Illinois Republicanâ€™ my first post is about the party that is searching to find a new identity. And, one, that in this process, is pushing me further and further from the party that I have worked for and supported.
Over the past few weeks, Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ve read about the state of the Republican Party. Party Chairman Michael Steele has pledged to move forward and stop talking about the past. Steele believes the party has compromised its core principles and needs to reestablish itself as a truly conservative party. In his efforts to be inclusive and grow the party, he has gone as far as criticizing those who are casting doubt on former Mass. Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials – those who are saying that the Republican base rejected Romney because “it had issues with Mormonism” and was unsure of Romney’s commitment to opposing to abortion rights. This division clearly paints a vision of a party that is intolerant and exclusionary. And, while I don’t agree with all Michael Steele is attempting to do with the party (in fact, even he’s far from where I’d like to see the party go), his efforts are being undermined and I wouldnâ€™t expect Steele to last much longer as party chairman, unfortunately, he is not alone in his efforts to remake the GOP.
Vice President Cheney â€“ who is surprisingly popular among Republicans, receiving favorable ratings from 66% of Republicans in a recent CNN poll â€“ has launched round after round of attacks on the Obama Administration for undermining efforts to win the War on Terror. If you read last weekâ€™s speech to the American Enterprise Institute, itâ€™s clear that the Vice Presidentâ€™s continues to believe that the Administration was justified in all aspects of its persecution of the War on Terror. If you combine this with the subsequent comments Cheney has made about the policies of the Obama administration, his vision for the future of the GOP becomes very clear. And, unfortunately, itâ€™s a vision that places national security and conservative social policies above all else.
The extent of this effort t remake the party is alarming. Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, who continues to pontificate in his ongoing crusade to move the party further to the right, have gone as far as trying to kick former Secretary of State Colin Powell out of the party
“The version of the party that he’s waiting to emerge is not the Reagan wing of the party. Does Powell have the pulse of the Republican Party, folks? He’s for more spending. He’s for higher taxes. He’s against raising the social issues. He’s for affirmative action. He’s for amnesty for illegals. He endorsed Obama.
“And now there’s an agenda — an emerging agenda — that he’s waiting for for the Republican Party? The only thing emerging here is Colin Powell’s ego. Colin Powell represents the stale, the old, the worn-out GOP that never won anything. The party of Gerald Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Bill Scranton, Arnold Schwarzenegger and those types of people. Has anybody heard Colin Powell say a single word against Obama’s radicalism — or Pelosi or Reid, for that matter? Maybe he has but his fawning media sure hasn’t reported if he has said it.”
I could add names like Bob Michel, Jim Edgar, and Ray LaHood from my days in Illinois to this list. Or, I could even add the names of two of the partyâ€™s heroes â€“ Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Lincoln was a strong unionist and promoted equal rights for all. Roosevelt busted the trusts and began the environmental movement. I would find it hard to believe that either would be welcomed into todayâ€™s GOP.
The GOP was once a party of change and vision. Unfortunately, itâ€™s lost its way. And, itâ€™s going down a very dangerous path.