Republican Party Not Like It Used to Be

republican partyOne thing ought to be clear to most, and that is the fact that institutions change over time. In the case of the Republican party, that change seems to have been a complete reversal of what it used to stand for, which was equality for everyone. In the present, that no longer seems to be the case. Still, there are some people who believe that this change has not happened, that the party is as egalitarian as it ever was. Alas, the Republican party is not like it used to be.

In a short, rather irritated opinion on Republicans, a degree holding student of American history tried to justify the record by pointing out some history. He like many others today, was trying to refute the claim that the GOP is the party of bigoted, intolerant, white men. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and he ended slavery. The Civil Rights Act was supported by 1950s Republicans. Theodore Roosevelt, with his soft voice and big stick, invited Booker T. Washington to be the first black man to be invited to the White House as an entity other than the butler or staff. All these examples are meant to show that the GOP is the party of equality and inclusion, while negative examples of Democrats, of which there are a few, are meant to show that they do not care about equality in contrast.

The history presented is entirely accurate. Lincoln was a Republican, as were many supporters of civil rights and so was Theodore Roosevelt. What is wrong with this opinion is not the facts, but how they are used without reference to the nature of institutional change. These Republican leaders of bygone years might not actually recognize their modern counterparts. The passing of time has seen modern Republicans become less interested in equality and more interested in winning elections and de-regulating the free market. Looking at the Republican party today does not give the impression that they really care about equality for everyone.

People only have to look at the Republican dismantling of the Voting Rights Act to see that. The Voting Rights Act, which was enacted in the 1960s by a large majority of Republicans, stopped discriminatory voting laws which unfairly prevented minorities from being able to vote. Recently, however, Republicans on the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of that law which has allowed Republicans in states like Texas and North Carolina to pass voter suppression laws which make it more difficult for minorities, who tend to vote Democrat, to vote in those states. If today’s Republicans really cared about equality, they would not be dismantling the laws that protected racial equality in the first place.

The story of how the Republican party is not the “grand old party” it used to be goes on in the fight over LGBT equality. Republicans have been opponents of gay marriage from day one, saying that marriage is between one man and one woman. They even want to bring a constitutional amendment that would make that definition explicit, because the wording of the Constitution right now is not clear and could allow gay marriage its valuable protection. There is no reason, either logically or in the Constitution, for gay marriage not be protected by law in the United States. But instead of supporting equality, Republicans have done everything they possibly can to stop it.

In fact, their record on LGBT equality is positively abysmal. Republicans overwhelmingly have not supported anti-discrimination laws that would protect LGBT individuals, either in public or in the workplace. They did the exact opposite in Arizona where they tried to give businesses the right to deny services to gay people just for being gay. The ranking Republican, Speaker John Boehner, even called an anti-discrimination bill “unnecessary,” as if gay people were not afraid of losing their jobs or being the victims of hate crimes. Meanwhile, stories of discrimination towards LGBT persons abound, both in physical abuse and in loss of livelihood. The argument that LGBT people do not need protection from discrimination simply does not hold water when faced with the cold, hard facts these people face every day.

It is not just racial and LGBT equality that the Republican party is failing at. Equality for women is a huge problem for them, especially when it comes to workplace equality. Lily Ledbetter, who had the Lily Ledbetter Act of 2009 named after her, was paid less than her male counterparts and when she realized it many years after it had been going on, she was unable to get restitution. There were no legal protections for her, so she lobbied to make sure there would be protections for women coming after her. She won, but Republicans didn’t make it easy. Then in 2012 when Democrats introduced a bill to strengthen existing equal pay laws, Republicans voted against it. The “Paycheck Fairness Act” was meant to bolster what was already in the 2009 act and was generally deemed a good thing by supporters of equality. Still, Republicans said no and split the vote along party lines, with Democrats all voting in favor.

History is important to understanding the context of institutions but when it comes right down to it, but that is all it is; history. The present and people’s actions in it is more important to how a party should be perceived than what happened many years ago. Republicans are not the party of equality any longer. They have proved that time and time again as they try to dismantle and prevent equality today. Political parties change over time and the GOP is no exception to that rule of history. So, yes, historically Republicans have been the party of equality, but inferring that just because that is how it used to be means it still is that way is simply dishonest. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but looking at the facts and what is happening now, it is terribly clear that the Republican party is not the same party of equality as it used to be in the good old days of history.

Opinion By Lydia Webb


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Wall Street Journal
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5 Responses to "Republican Party Not Like It Used to Be"

  1. Czerny   April 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    The GOP was once a party that respected the common man and worked to protect the citizens of the USA. However that was then, and this is now. Over the past 30-40 years the GOP has slowly become a party that only cares about 2 things, winning elections by hook or by crook and protecting the wealthy from taxes.
    Nothing else matters to them, not equality, not freedom, certainly not justice.

  2. mark menser   March 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

    The author and the comments on here demonstrate gross ignorance of the GOP and demographics. First, the “southern strategy” had nothing to do with race or attracting racists. The strategy arose in response to George McGovern and his socialist/pacifist agenda. Racism, the KKK and slavery are all Democrat Party traditions. Patriotism, anti-communism and economic conservatism are the pillars of the GOP. Southerners voted GOP in reaction to McGovern. You conveniently forget to mention, however, the success enjoyed by Jimmy Carter ( the scion of an old and established KKK family, most recently tripped up by his remarks concerning the “alleged holocaust”) , the Democrat Party ‘s recent majority leader in the U.S. Senate, Robert Byrd (D.W.Va.) , a “Kleagle” in the KKK (after he died Harry Reid took over) and the Democrat Party’s appointment of KKK members to the SCOTUS while blocking the GOP’s nomination of the first Hispanic Justice and the contrived accusations against Justice Thomas. Oh yes, and let us not forget liberal Democrats pelting African-American GOP candidates (Mr. Steele and Mr. Cain, as two examples) with Oreo cookies. Your argument also overlooks the fact that the GOP in the swing-state of Florida draws its strength from the Cuban community.
    The racism of the new Democrat party is an extension of its former defense of slavery. Democrats used to defend slavery by noting the “inferiority” of blacks and the need for benevolent white people to give blacks “free housing, free medicine, free clothing, free food and guaranteed “jobs.” The Democrat Party made sure that Blacks had inferior schools and a government created-and-enforced dependency on the Democrat Party. The Dems replaced physical slavery with economic slavery, and uneducated people were encouraged to vote for the government dole, while the GOP was (and is) condemned for treating backs as equal to whites. It is always more difficult to appeal to voters’ intelligence than to simply offer goodies. f the GOP was only interested n “winning elections”, it could have taken the Democrat Party’s strategy in hand and encouraged dependency.
    The fact that the GOP appeals to intellect rather than vote-buying belies the author’s basic, and typically liberal, ignorance of the GOP and, frankly, America.

  3. William Wuepper   March 31, 2014 at 7:01 am

    The GOP has changed from the time of Lincoln. It changed with the Southern strategy, used to gather the white racist’s in the south after the Civil Rights Laws of the 60’s. They needed more people, so they reached out to religious right during Reagan’s administration, stringing them along with promises of pushing a religious agenda. Now they gather all the remaining nut jobs in an attempt to hold back the tide of demographics. All of these things will fail, but through the magic of gerrymandering and voter suppression, they have a chance to destroy the Government they hate. Maybe they should look on their money to see of what value it will be once they wreck the Government.

  4. Ed Murrow   March 31, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Nicely written.

    I’ve read a lot in the past couple years about modern conservatism and its meaning to US politics. These folks may not be “bad” people, however I think to a large degree their actions are about preserving an America that never was; it is a fight against change, rooted in fear of becoming “lost” in a society where non-white, non-heterosexual, or non-Christian citizens are given the same rights they have always enjoyed. I look forward to a cultural shift that again recognizes diversity to be our future rather than our downfall.

  5. Mickey Askins   March 31, 2014 at 2:29 am

    The new GOP is the old John Birch Society William F. Buckley warned us about.

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