Last week Rep. Liz Cheney, former third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, told “60 Minutes” interviewer Lesley Stahl that she isn’t ready to give up on the party that seemingly wants to disown her.
“I am not ready to cede the Republican Party,” she said, despite losing her leadership post and 17 fellow GOP members voting to ban her from the Republican conference after she voted to impeach President Trump for inspiring and encouraging the Jan. 6 insurrection in the U.S. Capitol. “And I’m not ready to cede it to the voices of extremism, to the voices of anti-semitism, and the voices of racism — and there certainly are some in our party. But I’m going to fight for this party. I believe in it.”
Someone needs to fight for the Republican Party.
Who better than people who understand and embrace the noble effort that began 167 years ago in Ripon, the birthplace of the Republican Party?
The now poisoned party, hijacked in 2016 by a narcissist disguised as a populist, needs to be championed again by GOP voices who hold high the party’s traditional tenets of free people and free markets.
This is particularly important now, as a counterbalance against spendthrift Democrats. The public is being asked by President Biden and congressional Democrats to stand by as their party seeks to burden the country with more entitlements at a time when its current obligations are actuarially unsustainable and, given the nation’s $27 trillion debt, paid for by pulling dollars out of the wallets of Americans’ children and grandchildren. (No, tax hikes on the rich alone won’t pay for Democrats’ socialist spending spree with no means testing.)
What happened to liberty?
Republican Party organizers hoping to halt the spread of slavery into the northern states hosted a March 20, 1854 meeting in Ripon that led to representatives from other parties joining forces to create a political group that endures to this day — at least in name.
Six years and nine months after that gathering of Free Soilers, Democrats and Whigs in the Little White Schoolhouse, Lincoln assumed the twin mantles of president and head of the Republican Party. But the great unifier’s primary allegiance was to the former.
As early as 1838, he urged the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill. to “Study the Constitution. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in the legislatures and enforced in the courts of justice.”
The first Republican president was a statesman in word and deed, putting Constitution ahead of convenience, people ahead of party.
Today’s GOP largely is a calculating, craven, cunning, conniving movement that places self-preservation ahead of all other values including public interest, coalition building and Lincoln’s north star: national unity.
Strong national defense, limited government, low taxes?
Those are yesterday’s concerns.
R Strong defense? After cancelling a secret negotiation session with the Taliban at Camp David, President Trump made a deal with the militant group that harbored Al-Qaeda to extricate troops from Afghanistan by Christmas 2020.
R Small government? The national debt grew by $6.8 trillion during the Trump tenure.
R Tax reform? The $1.5 trillion Trump tax plan increased the deficit rather than generated $1.8 trillion in new revenue as the administration had promised.
Words in Washington don’t matter anymore, which is why Republicans, who used to be the adults in the room as champions of constraint, civility and comity, now engage in name calling, conspiracy theories and scurrilous claims.
Republicans in Madison are no better.
They have more pressing matters than good government and sound policy, such as using tax dollars to pay lawyers to defend gerrymandering, exacerbating an unprecedented public health crisis, spending $680,000 of our money to hire an ex-state Supreme Court justice to flesh out the Big Lie despite his claim last year that the presidential election was stolen, and using culture wars to score points.
Last week, Republicans in the state Assembly — including Ripon’s own representative Rep. Alex Dallman — voted to approve A.B. 411, which prohibits schools from teaching students about racism or sexism (exact words in the bill are “race or sex stereotyping”), threatens them with a 10% cut in state aid if they violate this restriction and requires school boards to post curricula on their websites.
So is it racial stereotyping for a teacher to show a video of Birmingham Police Commissioner Bull Connor siccing a biting police dog on a black man? How about pointing out that not until 1974 did American women gain the right to own credit cards in their own name? Sexist pigeonholing?
This is a non-issue. Most teachers’ agendas are to educate, not indoctrinate, their students. If they fail at that mission, we elect school board members, not legislators, to oversee our children’s education.
But the state’s Republicans want to boost their brand of know-nothingness to pretend that oppression never occurred in this “exceptional” nation.
Using government to ban ideas is a new low. Cynical censorship doesn’t belong in a party whose core principle is to drive social progress through freedom.
Now more than ever, the Republican Party needs to heed the call of Cheney and others who believe the country deserves more responsible statesmanship in substance and policy from a party that for the past five years has been held hostage by a cult of personality.
— Tim Lyke