Republicans - Please Take Back Your Party
Posted October 26, 2003 thepeoplesvoice.org
Today's so-called Republicans have
established a mind-numbing record at polluting the environment; bloating
government; appointing crony partisans; pushing the nation into debt to
fund tax cuts for the rich; legislatively catering to the world's largest
corporations; opposing women's rights; kneecapping states, local
communities, and schools; eviscerating constitutional protections of
liberty at home; and devastating our nation's reputation abroad.
They try to re-write history - the
biography of Thomas Jefferson on the www.whitehouse.gov website has been
re-written to turn him into a man who had "assumed leadership of the
Republicans," while the reality was that Jefferson's party was the
Democratic-Republicans and still exists today, called the Democratic
Party. (The Republican Party is much more recent, having come into
national existence in 1856.)
Corporate shills like former Enron lobbyist
and current GOP chairman Ed Gillespie would have us think the Republican
party was born in service to corporations. But Abraham Lincoln, the first
Republican president, was also the first president to actively use the
power of government in support of striking workers.
In Lincoln's era, the idea of strikes was
so novel the word "strike" was put in quotation marks in
newspapers, but Lincoln was often on their side. "Labor,"
Lincoln wrote, "is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is
only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not
first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher
Republicans would do well to revisit the
Republican Party's campaign platform of 1872, before the era of corporate
personhood, as it may hold the seeds of their redemption.
The Republicans of 1872 didn't think that
anybody should be appointed to high office just because he was a party
hack or the son of the Secretary of State. Instead, they wrote in their
platform, "Any system of civil service under which the subordinate
positions of the government are considered rewards for mere party zeal is
fatally demoralizing; and we, therefore, favor a reform of the system, by
laws which shall abolish the evils of patronage, and make honesty,
efficiency, and fidelity the essential qualifications for public
They didn't think corporations -
particularly big ones - should get the kinds of freebies that corporations
today regularly demand for moving into a community. Instead, resources
owned by We, The People should be held in trust for, or given to, human
beings, as they wrote in their platform: "We are opposed to further
grants of public land to corporations and monopolies, and demand that the
national domain be set apart for free homes for the people."
The Republicans of 1872 felt that the
national debt (from the Civil War) should be paid off as quickly as
possible, and a budget must not only be balanced but show a surplus while
at the same time paying pensions to retired persons. They were also
protectionists, in favor of import duties and tariffs to protect working
peoples' salaries and keep manufacturing jobs from moving offshore. They
proclaimed in their platform:
"The [nation's] annual revenue, after
paying current expenditures, pensions, and the interest on the public
debt, should furnish a moderate balance for the reduction of the principal
[of the national debt]; and that revenue should be raised by duties upon
importations, the details of which [duties] should be so adjusted as to
aid in securing remunerative wages to labor, and promote the industries,
prosperity, and growth of the whole country."
The Republicans of 1872, having just freed
the slaves (in part, at least), also spoke to that era's women's struggle
for equal rights. Their platform explicitly said:
"The Republican party is mindful of
its obligations to the loyal women of America for their noble devotion to
the cause of freedom. Their admission to wider fields of usefulness is
viewed with satisfaction; and the honest demand of any class of citizens
for additional rights should be treated with respectful
The Republicans of 1872 had repealed most
of Lincoln's wartime abrogations of civil rights, and opposed any other
Patriot Act-like interferences with civil liberties. They were
rediscovering the Bill of Rights, and said so in party platform plank
"The Republican party proposes to
respect the rights reserved by the people to themselves as carefully as
the powers delegated by them to the States and the Federal government. It
disapproves of the resort to unconstitutional laws for the purpose of
removing evils, by interference with rights not surrendered by the people
to either the State or National government."
The party platform said that Republicans
would embrace only "modest patriotism" and "incorruptible
integrity" in their leaders, because the nation's "honor"
was, in that day, "kept in the high respect throughout the
The party noted that since it had first
achieved national power with Lincoln's election, "During eleven years
of supremacy it has accepted, with grand courage, the solemn duties of the
time." Republicans had "emancipated four millions of slaves,
decreed the equal citizenship of all, and established universal suffrage.
Exhibiting unparalleled magnanimity, it [the Republican Party] criminally
punished no man for political offenses," and tax "revenues have
been carefully collected and honestly applied."
"This glorious record of the past is
the party's best pledge for the future," the Republicans of 1872
wrote, blissfully unaware of how corrupt their party would become.
They added, perhaps presciently. "We
believe the people will not entrust the government to any party or
combination of men composed chiefly of those who have resisted every step
of such beneficent progress."
In the years since then, the Republican
Party has been seized by Ayn Rand utopians, Pat Roberson fundamentalists,
and the largest and dirtiest of America's corporate elite. They've trashed
the values of Lincoln and Eisenhower, rejected Jesus' words in Matthew 25,
and turned our commons into a dumping ground while using our nation's
treasury as a honey pot.
At the same time, there's a growing concern
that George W. Bush's projected quarter-billion-dollar campaign war chest,
and demonstrated willingness to use Big Lie techniques and October
Surprise wars, will be enough to induce national amnesia in 2004, destroy
the last vestiges of a civil society, and permanently turn our nation into
the land of the observed and the home of the
And, so, those of us "on the
left" ask our Republican friends: Please take your party back from
these fanatics, before it's too late for America to ever again be the land
of the free and the home of the brave.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com)
is the award-winning, best-selling author of over a dozen books, and the
host of a syndicated daily talk show that runs opposite Rush Limbaugh in
cities from coast to coast. www.thomhartmann.com
This article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted for
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