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Article by Richard Reeb

 

Written by Richard Reeb   
Tuesday, 03 April 2007
Republicans ARE the Conservative Party

"What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?"
Lincoln's Cooper Institute Address, February 27, 1860 in the City of New York

"Grow up, conservatives." So admonished Sen. Barry M. Goldwater in 1961, after Richard M. Nixon lost to John F. Kennedy in the recent presidential election. The next Republican nominee was chiding conservatives for "sitting on their hands" in 1960, thereby permitting Kennedy to win his narrow victory over Nixon. Barry's admonition was prescient as the nation was soon to endure the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, the building of the Berlin Wall, a coalition government with communists in Laos, the Cuban Missile Crisis (with a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba and to remove missiles from Turkey), terrorizing of steel company executives for raising prices, and the poorly kept secret of the President's numerous extra-marital affairs.
 
Goldwater's advice 46 years ago is as valid now as it was then. Many conservatives sat on their hands in the last election in states and districts that could have gone either way and the result is a slim Democrat majority in both houses of Congress and a severely weakened President George W. Bush. The Democrats' narrow victory is not deterring them from showing their true colors, whether it is setting arbitrary deadlines for American withdrawal from Iraq, or even cutting off funds for the war; to restoring the execrable earmarks" on legislation which they had disingenuously pinned on the majority Republicans in the last Congress; to ladling out  considerable "pork" in the compromised emergency military funding bill to win over moderate and conservative Democrats; to reintroducing so-called "gay rights" legislation; and most recently conducting diplomacy in the Middle East, the work of the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat, who recently met with Hamas terrorists and the evil Syrian regime.
 
It makes a difference which political party is in control of our government! The media make much of the handful of "maverick" Republicans in Congress who vote with Democrats, but the fact is more Democrats defect from their party than Republicans do from theirs. These are small numbers in any case. Let us say it, the Republican party is the more conservative party, and deserves to be called so because of what it means to conserve, viz., our republican form of government with powers limited to providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare (free enterprise, free trade); and the power of the states to regulate the health, safety, welfare and morals of the people so that marriage and family wlll be conserved for future generations. Just as the first Republican platform of 1856 denounced those "twin relics of barbarism, slavery and polygamy," we need to denounce the current manifestations of barbarism, abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

Because of the numerous struggles between conservative and liberal (aka moderate) Republicans, at least since the New Deal administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, many of us have reached the conclusion that the Republican party is a hollow shell that can be made into anything we wish. Granted, some people's wishes are less compatible with America's founding principles than others, but that is no reason to abandon the Republican banner for the less definitive name of conservative. We Republicans began our career more than 150 years ago determined to stop the spread of slavery, based on the revolutionary idea that "all men are created equal." Because of the intransigence and impatience of slaveholders, slavery's end came much sooner than anyone imagined. Our object then was to conserve republican government and its primary benefit, which is liberty and justice for all. Our object now is the same, but with different challenges at home and abroad. To be a Republican is to favor government by the people through representative institutions, avoiding the extremes of monarchy and anarchy. This is the necessary condition for good public policy, the sufficient condition for which is the election of dedicated Republicans. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, we are all Republicans, we are all conservatives. We need to conserve our republic with its heritage of equal rights, preferring the political party most in harmony with that great conservative imperative. That conservative party is the Republican party. Republicanism is not an empty vessel; it is the chief means by which we govern well this great and free country.


"[T]he preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people."

George Washington
First Inaugural Address In the City of New York
Thursday, April 30, 1789