Where Did the Republican Party Lose Its Way?

The United States flag flies at half staff in front of the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington

The Republican Party, somewhere along the line, has lost its way. It is no longer the party formed in 1854 by anti-slavery activists. It is no longer the party boasting Abraham Lincoln as its first president. Can anyone say it is still the party of saving the Union, ending slavery and the progression of equal rights to all men?

These are the tenants of the party. Yes sir, the GOP. In the beginning, the Grand Old Party supported business, generous pensions, high profits along with high wages, tariffs to promote growth, business and hard money. And also, the annexation of Hawaii. Good move Republicans, good move.

Today, they appear to be the party of grumpy old men waxing poetic on what women should be, what control they should have over their bodies, crazy gun owners, hatred of a population based on sexual preference and creating the largest biased media station in America. When did the Republican Party drift off and lose its way?

This is the party of the Sherman Anti Trust Act and the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission, formed as a result of complaints from small business and American farmers. This is the party of small government; not the party micromanaging every aspect of the individual. Dictating every private choice was never the moniker of this party. Where did the Republican Party take left?

About a year ago, Lindsay Graham, senior Republican senator from South Carolina uttered, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” Really? The party of Abraham Lincoln is trying to summon only white guys? Is there a shortage of conservative leaning women, brown, black and red guys? Are there not young white and multi-hued people who stand a little to the right? Is there a reason people need to be angry to be Republican?

In Denver on Wednesday, a law and compliance seminar featured former DNC Chair Howard Dean and former RNC Chair Michael Steele. Dean reminded all why he couldn’t be elected president when he quipped gibberish about “Nixon’s strategy in 1968…the party brought this on itself.” The strategy to which he refers involved pandering to white voters in the South through declaiming African American civil rights.

They did agree on one thing and Steele noted it. “The Republic Party must change. The far right opinion that dominates the party must stop.” Evidently, there weren’t enough people in the room for the rest of us to hear a resounding, “Amen.”

In 2009, of all people, it was Meghan McCain, daughter of John, unafraid to go toe to toe with both her father and the party in summarizing young Republicanism. “I am concerned about the environment. I love to wear black. I think government is best when it stays out of people’s lives and business as much as possible. I love punk rock. I believe in strong national defense. I have a tattoo. I believe government should always be efficient and accountable. I have lots of gay friends. And yes, I am a Republican.” Is she really that different from the Republicans you know? Is she really that different from the Democrats you know? Are we, mainstream American, all that different from each other?

Where the Republican Party lost its way may remain a mystery. What is not is that all of us, regardless of party, are united in the human condition. Can we vote that way?

By Linda Torkelson