The Republican Party that existed just two years ago no longer exists today.
Two years ago, and for the previous 160 years, the Republican Party stood for values. It was the defender of the American culture, insisting on maintaining the decency and honor in our society that made us great.
Now The Republican Party is the enabler and cheering section of a man who is waging an all-out assault on those very same values.
I gave 30 years of my life to the Republican Party. In the ’90s, I was working inside the United States Senate when the Republicans impeached President Clinton for lying under oath and abusing his presidential powers. And we stood firm that – YES – the underlying extramarital affair that he had with an intern young enough to be his daughter DID matter, no matter how much the Democrats and their lapdog “news” media tried to cheapen our culture by insisting otherwise.
In 2000, when the Democrats gave their presidential nomination to Clinton’s equally corrupt vice president, the Republicans nominated one of the most decent and honorable men ever to carry a party’s standard, Texas Governor George W. Bush. And Republican Bush was elected president in large part as a rejection of Clinton-style sleaziness and corruption.
In his eight years as president, Bush took many actions and pursued many policies that were controversial, but there is one thing that no one can credibly debate: Every moment of every day, President George W. Bush conducted himself with honor and decency. He restored to the presidency the dignity that had been stripped away by his predecessor.
The current Republican president is the anti-Bush – a term that, tragically, he and his followers would eagerly embrace. President Trump, except when carefully scripted, is vulgar, brash and offensive – on purpose. Where President Bush practiced the teachings of his Christian faith by loving his enemies and turning the other cheek when they brutally and dishonestly savaged him, Trump delights in brutally savaging his perceived enemies – and friends for that matter.
He attacks women by invoking their menstrual cycles. He attacked a Republican U.S. Senator by making the defamatory accusation that his father was a conspirator in the assassination of President Kennedy. He is engaged in a childish back-and-forth of name-calling with a petty dictator who has nuclear weapons. He attacks the records of war heroes.
And he never, ever, ever, accepts responsibility for anything that doesn’t go as he wishes.
Trump’s devotees say, “Well, Trump will be Trump,” and that might be tolerable if his party was at least trying to hold him to some basic standards of decency. But the Republican Party that impeached President Clinton 20 years ago and nominated George W. Bush 17 years ago today cheers on the abhorrent behavior of the current Republican president.
We created Committed Conservative after Donald Trump was elected to be an anchor of conservative principles in the midst of a storm of star-struck populism within the Republican Party. We are here to serve as a constant reminder that there is an important difference between being Republican and being conservative. Conservatism is a set of immutable ideas and principles that historically have been the basis for American greatness and goodness. The Republican Party is an organization that purportedly exists to advance a conservative agenda but that in reality is in a constant state of flux in response to the winds of popular fashions and passions.
Over the past year, the difference between conservatism and the Republican Party has become more stark than at any other time in modern history. Almost overnight, the Republican Party has changed with the winds of populist passion to the point of being unrecognizable compared to what it was just a year ago.
To illustrate the point, let’s play a little game. Pretend it is 2009, a few months into the presidency of leftist Democrat Barrack Obama, and former Republican President George W. Bush gives a speech containing the following:
“We know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.”
“In recent decades, public confidence in our institutions has declined. Our governing class has often been paralyzed in the face of obvious and pressing needs. The American dream of upward mobility seems out of reach for some who feel left behind in a changing economy. Discontent deepened and sharpened partisan conflicts. Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”
“We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions – forgetting the image of God we should see in each other.”
“We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”
“In all these ways, we need to recall and recover our own identity. Americans have a great advantage: To renew our country, we only need to remember our values.”
“The first step should be to enact policies that encourage robust economic growth by unlocking the potential of the private sector, and for unleashing the creativity and compassion of this country.”
“Our identity as a nation – unlike many other nations – is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. Being an American involves the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility. We become the heirs of Thomas Jefferson by accepting the ideal of human dignity found in the Declaration of Independence. We become the heirs of James Madison by understanding the genius and values of the U.S. Constitution. We become the heirs of Martin Luther King, Jr., by recognizing one another not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
“This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.”
“We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.”
If President Bush’s speech had been delivered word-for-word in 2009, in the first months of the Obama presidency, Republicans across the board would have cheered him on. But because he delivered it in the first months of the Trump administration, Republicans across the board lambasted it and savaged President Bush with the same intensity that the Democrats did when he was in office.
Situational values, anyone?
I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I am no longer a Republican because my party left me. The Republicans’ reaction to President Bush’s speech proves me right beyond the shadow of a doubt.
My principles, values, and standards are the same as they were 2 years ago, 17 years ago, 20 years ago, and 30 years ago. My values are a constant and do not change for political expedience.
The same cannot be said for today’s Republican Party.
Prior to this year, the GOP’s values were immutable. During Republican President Nixon’s Watergate scandal, Republican Senator Howard Baker, the ranking member of the Senate Watergate Committee famously demanded to know, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” After he was elected Senate Minority Leader and the proof of Nixon’s corruption was beyond reasonable dispute, Baker led a delegation of Republicans to the White House to demand that Nixon resign.
Early in his congressional career, future Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich fought for the expulsion of Republican Congressman Dan Crane for his involvement in a congressional page sex scandal.
In 1998, as Republican Congressman Bob Livingston was about to be elected to succeed Gingrich as House Speaker, it was revealed that he’d had an extra-marital affair. He immediately resigned.
Although some of the ideas of the Republican Party have changed over its 163-year history, until this year there was one rock-solid constant: Republicans were the party of values, decency, and civility – so much so that they policed their own.
This year, that all changed. After 162 years, the Republican Party has abandoned its high values and standards in order to accommodate a reality show demagogue with no history of ever having been either a conservative or a Republican.
The Republican base became so enthralled with this opportunistic entertainer that the Republican Party changed overnight from a party of values and principles to a cult of personality. Now, just months into the Trump presidency, if any Republican dares to stand up and challenge this president’s vulgarity, no matter how long and strong that Republican’s history of support for the party and its traditional principles has been, he is immediate cast out as an apostate “RINO.”
You think this is an exaggeration or overstatement? Try disagreeing with Trump about anything on Facebook and watch what happens.
Donald Trump and his political guru Steve Bannon are determined to reshape the Republican Party in Trump’s image and to purge the party of anyone who refuses to kneel at Trump’s alter. That purge is well underway. The Republican Party is now a cult of personality centered on Donald Trump, and traditional Republicans who still care about traditional Republican principles and values are a spurned minority who are told on a daily basis that they are no longer welcome.
The transformation of the Republican Party has serious consequences for our country, too. For decades, the Democrats have been engaged in an all-out assault on our culture, fighting for things like abortion on demand, co-ed bathrooms, creating new sexes beyond male and female, and promoting cultural rot through networks like MTV. We’ve always depended on the Republicans to hold the line and fight to defend the best values and ideals of our culture.
The Republicans have now abandoned their post in the culture wars to engage in their own war on our culture, a war that insists that we abandon our standards of acceptable behavior to accommodate a president that they treat as an infallible messiah.
All of this leaves our country in a perilous position: With both parties waging war on our culture and standards of decency, is anyone left to defend it? Now that both parties represent only the political fringes, where are the majority of Americans who are moderates or traditional mainstream conservatives to go?
More on this coming soon….
Author: Ken Falkenstein
Ken Falkenstein is the Managing Editor of Committed Conservative and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in public affairs to the job. Ken served in the U.S. Army in the last years of the Cold War as a Russian linguist for military intelligence and the NSA. After leaving the Army, he earned his degree in Secondary Education from Old Dominion University, where he also wrote a popular column in the student newspaper.
Upon graduation, Ken worked as a Legislative Aide to two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Ken also served as Corresponding Secretary of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia, managed several successful political campaigns, and managed governmental affairs operations for a local Realtor association.
In 1995, Ken moved to Washington, DC to serve as a Legislative Assistant to Sen. John Warner (R-VA). While working for Sen. Warner, Ken attended law school at night, earning his J.D. with honors from the George Mason University School of Law (n/k/a The Antonin Scalia Law School). Since that time, Ken has practiced as a civil litigation attorney, including serving for three years as an Associate City Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Ken previously was a contributor to the highly-regarded political blog Bearing Drift and was a weekly co-host of The Steve Batton Radio Program. In 2016, Ken ran unsuccessfully for the Virginia Beach School Board. Ken is also a former President of the Down Syndrome Association of Hampton Roads.
Ken now lives outside of Denver, Colorado with his wife, Kim, and three sons, Adam, Dylan, and Joshua, who has Down syndrome. Ken’s writing is motivated and informed primarily by his concern for his kids’ future.