A hundred years ago, the Republican Party was led by Theodore Roosevelt whose progressive ideas today would undoubtedly lead to Republicans today castigating him as a “radical” or “socialist.” Theodore Roosevelt took on Big Business with his trust busting ideas, he originated the concept of conservation of our national resources, he believed in equal rights for Negroes and women, he supported labor unions, he urged transforming the Washington D.C. school system into a model for the nation, and he was the first president to actively seek to integrate immigrants into the American ethos. His famous Rough Riders was included immigrants from every ethnic group.
In the 1940s, the Republican party was led by Wendell Wilkie whose book, “One World” spoke of his desire for a world bound together. Thomas Dewey who twice ran for the presidency supported most New Deal laws and worked actively for equal rights for minorities. Senator Arthur Vandenberg led Senate Republicans in working with Roosevelt and Truman to become part of the United Nations. Even the great Republican Senator Robert Taft would today be branded by right wing kooks as a radical. During the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower consolidated the New Deal and backed the Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education. It was Eisenhower who warned about the “military/industrial complex” and was probably the only president in fifty years to cut the military budget.
Today, Senator Specter has left the party because the party has abandoned its conservative ideals and its concern for human rights. Its ongoing mantra is “cut taxes to help the wealthy.” Senator Vandenberg worked closely in a spirit of bipartisanship with Democrats as did Ronald Reagan on many international issues. But, today, the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt is controlled by Rush Limbaugh mentalities of pettiness and vicious hatred toward anyone who disagrees with their belief that wealthy people are the chosen ones of God. By the way, Teddy Roosevelt violently opposed any mixing of church and state.
So, what has happened to the Republican party? It is led by men with limited vision, outdated economic ideas, and a narrowness in terms of encompassing divergent people within the framework of the American nation. Republicans, ye have tarried too long, begone and rest in the dustbin of history with other relics of lost ideas.
I am certain Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower shed a tear every night as they gaze at the motley crew of ignorant hateful people who lead their party.