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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Democracy, the GOP and Unity

The official origin of the Republican Party dates back to 1856 when about ten thousand Americans joined forces to form a party dedicated to stopping the spread of and tolerance for slavery in the United States.  One of its founders, Horace Greeley, described the movement as, “…those who had united to restore the Union to its true mission of champion and promulgator of Liberty rather than propagandist of slavery."  The group named itself after Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and adopted a platform ostensibly dedicated to restoring the principles embraced by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  You can read about the history in more detail here:

Oh how I envy the people who get to be part of the birth of a political party!  That may be the one and only time that it actually stands for something.  Fast forward 162 years later and it seems the Party now stands for nothing.  “Republican” is what you are if you’re not a Democrat, and vice versa.  That’s about all.  Listen closely to the incredibly revealing words of presidential candidate John Kasich at a recent campaign event:  

The Republican party is my vehicle and not my master,” said Kasich. 

The Republican Party is his “vehicle?”  I take that to mean Kasich sees the Party as a tool to be used to get HIM where HE wants to be – and nothing more.  Maybe I’m na├»ve but isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?  Isn’t the candidate supposed to be the vehicle that takes the Party where IT wants to be?  And Kasich’s not alone.  It’s clear that Donald Trump sees the Republican Party in exactly the same way.  For all his complaining he chose to run as a Republican rather than as an Independent only because he wanted to use what the Party has built – the name brand, the infrastructure, the donors and the voter base – as his vehicle to the White House.  And by allowing this the Republican Party has taken another giant step towards the state of having no real mission.  It’s just a vehicle to be used by anyone whether they intend to uphold the Party platform or not.

And now we have cries for “democracy” coming from none other than the indignant usurper, Donald Trump, who doesn’t like that there is resistance to his commandeering of the vehicle.  I might sympathize with him and his supporters if it weren’t for the simple fact that democracy isn’t necessarily consistent with a Party that ostensibly has a purpose and a platform.  The founders of the Republican Party in 1856 wouldn’t have stood for a pro-slavery candidate, or a candidate who proposed “broadening the base” to include pro-slavery members, just for the sake of “democracy,”  as that would have defeated the reason for the Party to exist in the first place.  There is a time and place for democracy and within the GOP that time and place should be after the candidates have committed to upholding the platform, not before. 

Celebrity pundits, political bloggers and other Trump supporters are calling on Republicans to get behind Trump for the sake of unity, but as a supporter of the one conservative in this race I am offended by the type of unity they apparently value.  To such people I would say this:  You are asking us to unite behind a man.  We are asking you to unite behind a set of principles. 


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