The Republican Party Needs a System Upgrade

Sunday, October 23, 2016 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

[Note: This article is a repost from October, 2015]

I write as a former admirer of the Republican Party, also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP) and the “Party of Lincoln.” In particular, I have admired GOP figures in my adult lifetime such as Jack Kemp, Colin Powell, both presidents named George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and a number of local GOP public servants over the years, including former Indianapolis mayors Bill Hudnut and Stephen Goldsmith. I regard myself as politically independent in order to maintain objectivity and a clearer focus on greater priorities.

There is a lot of cynicism about American politics nowadays. The approval rating of the US Congress has been in single digits for some time. I routinely hear disparaging and disrespectful remarks about President Obama that I never heard about previous presidents.

Structurally, the Republican Party began to change in 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act by Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. This action to support the rights of African Americans angered racists in the Democratic Party such as the KKK, Strom Thurman, and many others. In those days, the Democratic Party was the preferred “home” of racists and white supremacists, especially in the deep South. The actions of President Johnson, prompted a great number of Black people to switch loyalties from the GOP to the Democratic Party. Because of Abraham Lincoln, African Americans were largely loyal to the Republican Party. This migration of black people to the Democratic party resulted in political and racial “white flight.”  Today, the GOP is the preferred “home” of racists and white supremacists, though certainly not welcomed among the ranks by the majority of Republicans, but nor are they called out or expelled.

President Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” was another factor leading to the present lack of racial diversity in the Republican Party (Read more about the Southern Strategy)

Civil rights era historical context notwithstanding, I often found reasons to support Republican candidates, based mainly on leaders I came to respect and trust because of their consistency, compassion and competency. Unfortunately, that as changed. 
In recent years, entertainers such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter have dominated the narratives and brand image of Republicans. Publications such as the American Renaissance and groups like The League of the South, identify as conservatives and align with the GOP. 

The promotion of “conservatism” as something akin to “righteousness,” especially by Christians, moved the GOP towards a perception, and seeming mindset of being “God’s Own Party.” This perception was helped by Democrats embracing policies such as ending wars, increasing the minimum wage, making voting more accessible, allowing gays to openly serve in the military, universal healthcare, defending legalized abortion, promoting gay marriage, and more. As result, among an increasingly simplistic and low-information GOP electorate, “liberal” policies are always deemed as "bad/sinful" while “conservative" policies are always deemed as "good/righteous." In reality, neither major political party are promoters of biblical righteousness.

As religious conviction began to merge with politically conservative ideals, some Republicans became increasingly inflexible and conspiratorial. Since Christians don’t believe in compromising their faith, when “conservative” Christians (politically conservative, but not necessarily biblically conservative) united with the GOP, they brought their sense of uncompromising religious conviction into the political domain. This explains, for example, why some elected politicians feel they cannot vote for any piece of legislation that contains any shred of perceived “immorality," such as an entire federal budget that contains any amount of funding for an organization like Planned Parenthood. Leading from this ideology is the religious conviction that a true Christian cannot vote for a Democrat and should only “vote the Bible” or “vote biblical values." (Read my article on Voting Biblical Values).

Irrational and false beliefs, especially about Barack Obama, are another cause for disappointment with the GOP. High percentages of Republicans agree with the following about President Obama: 

1) He is a muslim and an enemy of Israel. 
2) He is a socialist—a view that reflects a lack of understanding about the definition of socialism. 
3) Does not love America and is not a real American. 
4) He has ruined “our country” and brought judgment on America.
5) Blacks voted for him only because he is black, (of course, whites could not have voted against him because he is black).  

Even when confronting issues and people with whom we strongly disagree, showing respect, and being truthful and factual are essential.

Racially motivated actions (such as voter suppression) negative statements by GOP leaders regarding black people and latino people (who are assumed to be illegal) only add to the perception that Republicans are sympathetic to the concept of white supremacy. No sooner than the GOP officially distances itself from these actions and attitudes, their voters or rank-and-file GOP politicians do something that alienates minorities.

This year’s election cycle features a leading candidate on the Republican side, Donald Trump, who has no experience as an elected official—is the preference of GOP voters. There is an “anti-establishment” sentiment going around, like a virus. This has resulted in infecting people with an erroneous perception of politics and politicians.  I liken the phenomenon to becoming disenchanted with “establishment” airline pilots and seeking to replace them with persons who have no experience piloting.

What is truly ironic is that the conservative base of the GOP and its factions such as the Tea Party and Freedom Coalition, along with media surrogates such as Fox News, have created this current climate of anti establishment-ism. Fueling this climate and general sense of frustration/anger is intense opposition to President Barack Obama personally and politically. The nation has observed relentless, howbeit symbolic, efforts to stop or repeal President Obama's policies such as the Affordable Care Act law (i.e. Obamacare) with more than 50 GOP House of Representative votes to repeal ACA. There was the government shutdown of 2011 which was designed to curtail government spending, but only resulted in causing the USA to default on obligations and incur an embarrassing reduction in the nation’s credit rating.

Of course, the “loyal opposition” has every right to protest when not in power, but Republicans have gone overboard, have undermined their own credibility, and created this present anti-establishment climate. Worst of all, is that voters of their own party (as of this writing) are looking to the likes of anti-establishment personalities Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Forina to lead them.

Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, in particular, is a catastrophic embodiment of the disillusioned and desperate GOP voter base. His public statements, positions, and narcissistic disposition cannot help the GOP connect with minorities ("Mexicans bring crime and are rapists")
, substantively address issues such as immigration (“Build a wall”), foreign policy (“Serve McDonalds to the Chinese President”), or terrorism (“Shut down all mosques"). He is running a campaign based on self-aggrandizement, insults, irrational statements, and real-world policy indifference. Trump, along with the nice, but equally unqualified, Dr. Ben Carson, are the leading GOP presidential candidates, as of this writing.

As much as conservatives loathe President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, their irrational, anti-establishment behavior can only help to elect another Democratic President in 2016. Too many GOP politicians, especially US Representatives that serve two-year terms from homogeneous, gerrymandered districts, are beholden to very narrow interests. Some seem to be committed to undermining fellow government officials, weakening federal government, and seeking to eliminate laws and/or governmental policies without consideration of political compromise. 

Again, I believe this is the result of merging religious conviction with political activism. The objective seems to be about taking over and transforming government into a tool for God’s use, which is not a biblical concept, in my view. This is called "Dominionism."

I think the current presidential election cycle will result in a major “correction” within the leaderless Republican Party, not unlike economic corrections that disrupt markets before settling into a new reality. Using another analogy: When a computer operating system gets hacked and is full of malware, it must be upgraded...or discarded.

The most ironic idea of all is that the party whose members are the first to pronounce “judgment” on America may itself presently be on the receiving end of said judgment.



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Are African-Americans and Black Males "Problem People?"

Is Conservatism Sacrosanct?

Voting for "Biblical Values"