The right wing of the Republican party has become the Republican party since there no longer is much left of a center or left wing. Ironically, it was the Republican Party which was born in the struggle to end slavery and to assert the power of the Federal government to enforce laws of the nation. It was Theodore Roosevelt in the early 1900s who termed himself a Progressive and fought to curb power of Big Business and to assert the right of workers to organize. Republicans during the early years of the 20th century led the fight for better working conditions, federal laws to end child labor, ensure the safety of food, and extend suffrage to women. In those days if one said the word, “progressive” it usually referred to a Republican political leader.
We forget the defeated Republican party candidate in 1940 after losing worked closely with Franklin Roosevelt and eventually wrote a book entitled, “One World.” We forget Dwight Eisenhower enforced anti-segregation orders just as we forget Richard Nixon vigorously enforced affirmative action in the work place. Republicans had great conservative leaders such as Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater, but these men always placed nation ahead of party.
Perhaps, in the past there was a sense of nation and community which has been destroyed by the media and the Internet. Today, expressions of hate dominate Fox News and the recent episode about Obama’s birth certificate reflects something lost in this nation concerning respect for the office of the presidency.
Somewhere in the 1990s, a new form of hate took over the Republican party, one in which the very concept of losing an election to Democrats assumed the tragedy of a nation entrusted to evil radicals who hated America. Something about decency, about respect for the political views of others took over the Republican Party. Ironically, what is most missing in the modern Republican Party is the presence of outstanding conservative thinkers like Henry Stimson or Elihu Root or William Howard Taft.
What went wrong for the Republicans? Only the future will be able to answer this question.