Who is a Republican?

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By: T. Jeffersonian

In 2016, Democrats expecting Hillary Clinton Presidential Win frequently bragged that there might again be a Republican President.  Before the next morning, Donald Trump had won the election.  Now that Donald Trump is gone, Americans once again hear repeatedly that Republicans are disappearing.  On January 10, 2021, the Star Advertiser reported, “If there is any political relevance left to Hawaii’s Republican Party, Donald Trump and the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters last week destroyed it”.  The Republican Party is very much alive and well.  Republicans must not forget why their Party started, what it has historically stood for, and must fiercely resist all efforts undertaken by Democrats to blame and redefine what its means to be a Republican.

How Did It Start

The Republican Party (GOP) was founded in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin, by anti-slavery expansion activists and modernizers.  The Republican Party was at its onset the liberal, progressive party.  The name Republican was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

Equal Rights, Freedom, and Economic Prosperity

Republicans envisioned ‘free soil, free speech, free labor.’ Under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party became the Party of the Union as well.  President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed slaves in the Confederacy, but it was the entire Republican Party who freed the slaves throughout the entire country. The 1864 Republican National Convention called for the abolition of slavery, and Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously, with only a few Democrat voting in favor.

The early women’s rights movement was solidly Republican, as it was a continuation of abolitionism. They were careful not to be overly partisan, but as did Susan B. Anthony, most suffragists favored the GOP. The 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, was written by a Republican Senator and garnered greater support from Republicans than from Democrats.

It was a Republican President that first enforced desegregation.  President Eisenhower advocated groundbreaking civil rights legislation and vigorously enforced the Brown v Board of Education decision, sending the 101st Airborne to Little Rock when chaos erupted following integration at Central High.

Low taxes, sound money, regulatory restraint: these were among the commonsense economic policies established by the Republican Party that brought about decades of prosperity after the Civil War. By the end of the 19th Century, due to Republican Presidential and Congressional leadership, America came to have the largest economy on Earth.   Republicans encouraged innovation and rule of law. Benefitting from Republican control in Congress, the McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Taft administrations cleared away obstacles to further economic growth.

President Dwight Eisenhower and congressional Republicans appreciated the fact that the private sector, not government, is the engine of wealth creation. With his bold tax-cutting agenda, President Ronald Reagan revived the economy after years of Democrat malaise.

The Environment

Theodore Roosevelt embodies our Party’s traditional concern for the environment, but the Republican commitment to the environment actually goes back much further than that. For example, the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, was established during the Ulysses Grant administration.

Combatting AIDS

In the first decade of the 21st century, President George W. Bush made an unprecedented commitment to helping those in need beyond our shores through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), an aid program for countries devastated by HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, PEPFAR has saved over a million lives and currently provides over 5 million people with life-saving treatments.  At the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, President Bill Clinton said, “No President from his [Democratic] Party could have passed it”.

Summation of Differences Between Republicans and Democrats

Ronald Reagan explained the difference between Democrat vs Republican in a very simple way that cannot be improved upon:

“Two visions of the future, two fundamentally different ways of governing – their government of pessimism, fear, and limits, or ours of hope, confidence, and growth. Their government sees people only as members of groups. Ours serves all the people of America as individuals”.

Today’s Republicans

Today’s Republicans believe individuals, not government, make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home.  Republicans recognize that the slow, bloated, top-down Washington bureaucracy is out-of-date in the 21st century.   Republicans work to give Americans more choices—in healthcare, in education, in energy, and in the economy—and to free individuals and families from the intrusive overreach of federal bureaucrats.

The Party’s core principles of freedom and equal opportunity are as relevant today as at our founding, and they are the roadmap for American renewal in a new and interconnected world.

One Dire Warning

The Republican Party is the Conservative American political party.  There is a dire historical parallel which all conservatives must heed.  At the end of World War I, there were numerous conservative nationalist parties in Germany.  Germany had been defeated in World War I.  The German people were in shock after losing. They had been told throughout the war that they were winning only to be told at the end that they had lost. They faced food and coal shortages, and ended the war with millions killed and wounded. The German government and military justified the sacrifices as necessary, because victory was often close.  To understand how such a thing could happen, many Germans turned to conspiracy theories — particularly, the theory that Jewish people on the home front had stabbed Germany in the back.  The situation of chaos and resentment in a defeated Germany was ripe for someone like Adolf Hitler to consolidate and mobilize the numerous alt-right conservative groups.   

In some ways, the Coronavirus pandemic has created global conditions much like Germany after World War I.  There is shock, shortage, chaos, and conspiracies.  American alt-right and alt-left as seen are both on the march.  In times such as these, Republicans must never forget why their party exists and for what and whom they have always stood.