The Grand Old Party: 1854 to 2012
I grew up thinking that the only political party was the Democratic Party. Born a few years after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, he would be the only President of whom I was aware until he died in 1945, thirteen years later! A Constitutional amendment was passed to avoid that ever happening again.
Considering how much damage Obama has done in just under four years that seems like a very good idea. Defeating him for a second term is an even better one.
Lincoln was the then-new Republican Party’s first to be elected President in 1860. A much older Democratic Party had held the presidency from Martin Van Buren, with time out for Republicans William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, until Democrats James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan.
After Lincoln there was a succession of Republican Presidents until the election of Grover Cleveland in 1885. Democrats would have to wait until Woodrow Wilson to regain executive power in 1913, but he would be followed by Republicans Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover.
During my lifetime, the New Deal coalition forged by FDR in the 1930s fell apart in the 1960s, largely over the issue of civil rights which is a kind of poetic justice when you consider that the Democrats had sought to expand slavery in all the years leading up to the Civil War.
There have been five Republican Presidents since Lyndon Johnson declined to run for office in 1969; six if you count Eisenhower who served two terms (1953-1961) prior to the young, charismatic JFK.
I am not sure when the nation became so divided politically with the Democrats representing the liberal-progressive agenda that created Social Security and Medicare and Republicans who have always been identified with a conservative, pro-business, pro-military platform, mixed with a social outlook that still finds issues such as abortion an offense to religious and moral values. In essence they were always divided.
It is an interesting coincidence of history that today’s Republican Party candidate for President was born in Michigan where, on July 6, 1854, the first statewide convention was held near Jackson. Its Vice President candidate comes from Wisconsin where the name “Republican” was first suggested for the party in a Ripon, Wisconsin schoolhouse on March 20, 1854.
At this point in our nation’s history, the Democrat President, Barack Obama, and Democrats who regained power in Congress in 2009 has run up more national debt than all the previous presidents combined. He has brought the nation to the edge of economic collapse and, naturally, that is the last thing he wants to talk about.
The issues regarding the solvency of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid have long been thought the province of the Democratic Party that would always tell voters that the Republicans intended to end these programs. Politics is rife with irony and they are now a primary issue of the Republican campaign based on trying to save them!
The contrast could not be greater. In my mind, the Republican Party is composed of grown-ups and the Democratic Party is run by children. I like the way the Romney-Ryan ticket has elevated the tone of their campaign while the Democrats appear to be so desperate they are engaging in vile accusations against Romney. Ryan was instantly labeled “radical.” That’s laughable.
Like many of today’s Republicans, I began as a Democrat. Ronald Reagan changed all that for me. In fact, even before changing my registration I had been a conservative and a Republican without realizing it. We should not be surprised that there were a lot of “Reagan Democrats” who voted for him.
Reagan, like Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln before him, dwarfs the presidents that followed in his wake. In the latter half of the last century and first decade of this one, the Democrats sought to increase the welfare state from Lyndon Johnson’s “war on poverty” to Obama’s obscene “food stamp” America with 23 million Americans out of work. They are not likely to vote for more of the same.
The 2008 financial crisis was the direct result of the absurd Democratic Party promise that all Americans would be able to own their own home and the machinery of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, bundling dubious mortgages as “assets” facilitated the failures of major banks, investment firms, and a huge insurance company. The American taxpayer had to bail them out, a punishment of sorts for believing all those Democrat lies.
I admit my bias. I cannot conceive that Americans will return Obama to a second term in office. I will not let myself think that they will be duped again by a combination of the media and the Democratic Party. I know that there is a solid base of liberals constituting some 30% of the voters. I know too that many Democrats will pull the level for whoever are their party’s candidates.
I also think we are reliving the first and last term of Jimmy Carter, a failure as President in so many ways. He was replaced by Ronald Reagan and for eight years America enjoyed economic prosperity that included a subsequent term by George H.W. Bush who was savaged by the media. The successes claimed by Bill Clinton are the programs that a Republican return to control of Congress in 1994 produced.
It says something about the values of Democrat voters that Clinton was essentially forgiven for disgracing the office of President and is now regarded as an elder statesman while his wife is a Secretary of State for Obama whose foreign policies have weakened the nation in the eyes of the world.
The Republican Party, if it can return to power in the Senate and hold it in the House, and put Romney and Ryan in the White House, will have earned once more its nickname, the Grand Old Party. I think it will!
© Alan Caruba, 2012