The government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis that just ended with complete surrender by the Republicans in the House was nothing short of a disaster for the party.
Republicans, led by the Tea Party faction which is apparently orbiting another universe, demanded the repeal of Obamacare. That demand, of course, went nowhere.
It was then followed up by a myriad of other demands, all of which were rejected by President Obama and Senate Democrats. And after 16 days of a government shutdown and reaching the final hours before default, Republicans backed down, as everyone knew they would. In the end, the government was reopened, default was avoided, and Republicans got absolutely nothing in return.
Except for the destruction of what was left of the Republican party’s reputation.
As a Republican myself, I simply don’t recognize this party in Congress masquerading themselves as Republicans. All of a sudden any conservative who talks about compromising in an effort to get things done is now a RINO – Republican In Name Only. Guys like John McCain, Jeb Bush, Joe Scarborough – great Republican leaders – are branded a RINO.
The amount of damage the Tea Party has done to the Republican party is immeasurable. Republicans used to stand for limited government, fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and foreign policy.
Now, thanks to the Tea Party, we are known to stand for no government, extreme debt reduction (never mind that defaulting would skyrocket the cost of America’s future borrowing), and isolationism.
This country was founded by great men who had a complete mistrust of government. But even they realized that some government is necessary. Call it a necessary evil if you will, but it is necessary nonetheless because some things are best done collectively (i.e. military defense).
Ronald Reagan, the Republican standard bearer, won his elections by landslides advocating limited government. And he fought tooth and nail to reduce taxes and regulation in every way he could but on occasion, he raised taxes. Because guess what, while all Republicans are for less tax, we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes departure from your ideal policy goal is necessary to face reality. For example, Reagan temporarily raised taxes on gas to produce enough revenue to rebuild some of our highways. Didn’t fit within his goal of reducing taxes, but it was necessary.
What else did Reagan stand for? Oh, that’s right, defeating communism. We didn’t shrink from the great challenge of our time them. We didn’t retreat into isolationism and say – “not our problem.” We took leading roles on the world stage because we believed America had something more to offer than all other nations. A beacon of hope, a symbol of freedom and the awesome powers of innovation and prosperity that freedom brings.
We were once the party that believed that with the right conditions created by government, every American had the ability to raise themselves up and provide a better life for their children than they themselves had.
All that is but a glimmer now. In the wake of Tea Party extremism lies the ashes of a once great party that believed America, and American government, while limited, could be a force for good in people’s lives and around the world.
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