Today’s Republicans Are The “RINO’s” (Republicans In Name Only)
Today’s Republican Party bears little resemblance to its historic self. If you are in your forties or younger, you are unlikely to know how diverse Republican Party politics were when your parents and grandparents were young. In fact, you may be flabbergasted by how many prominent liberal Republicans there were and the principles for which they stood. While the Party always included conservatives, conservative ideas did not dominate the Party nor did conservatives control it.
Most people know the Republican Party was founded in opposition to slavery and that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President. (In fact, the Republican Party was long known as “the Party of Lincoln.”) Many people also know about Republican Teddy Roosevelt, an early Twentieth Century progressive President who took on powerful business interests and fostered America’s first major social welfare legislation. But most people do not know that, until recently, progressive Republicans had an even greater voice in the Republican Party than conservatives, or that these Republicans aligned with like-minded Democrats on an issue-by-issue basis to enact major civil rights laws, major infrastructure legislation and laws and policies that underpinned America’s foreign policy in defense of democracy and liberty around the world. For example, the two Twentieth Century landmark civil rights laws, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, were supported by a greater proportion of Republican Congresspersons and Senators than Democratic ones. These liberal Republicans included Nelson Rockefeller, Margaret Chase Smith, George Romney (Mitt’s father), Edward Brooke, Mark Hatfield, William Scranton, Charles Percy and Jacob Javits. Google them. You will be astonished by their politics. And there were dozens more.
The Republican Party also developed as the party advocating liberal capitalism as the best means to achieve broad economic prosperity, including by advocating for national infrastructure development and against the abuses of great wealth (including business trusts and monopolies). It was also the party advocating for ethics and competency in government, rather than the vote-buying, job patronage and electoral horse-trading which were historically characteristic of Democratic machine politics. And it was the party most associated with a preference for individual initiative, decentralized government and fiscal conservatism.
When the Republican establishment that Mr. Trump viscerated in the 2016 Presidential election accused Republicans they regarded as too liberal of being “RINO’s”, they ignored history. It is essential for the American people, especially young people, not to cede control of the Republican Party to these traditional Republican conservatives, let alone to Mr. Trump’s mean-spirited followers (who, by the way, did not elect him President–thankfully there aren’t enough of them; rather, it was people in the middle, many who voted for Presidents Obama and Clinton in the past, who did).
The Republican Party represents half of our established political infrastructure. Ceding control of the Republican Party to the traditional conservative wing is likely to be especially destructive of America’s future because for many of these people (as is the case for some of the most passionate liberal Democrats), “consensus” is a dirty word. President Trump certainly knows how to street fight, but he also is a dealmaker. Deals don’t get made when the people who need to make them don’t even talk to one another. And just as constant infighting weakens families, sports teams, religious congregations and businesses, the constant infighting and gridlock that has characterized our federal government today weakens America.