Requiem for the Republican Party

Last week, the politics of fear ended:

“Because I care so deeply about protecting our country, I take strong offense to your suggestion in recent days that the country will be vulnerable to terrorist attack unless Congress immediately enacts legislation giving you broader powers to conduct warrantless surveillance of Americans’ communications and provides legal immunity for telecommunications companies that participated in the Administration’s warrantless surveillance program.

“If our nation is left vulnerable in the coming months, it will not be because we don’t have enough domestic spying powers. It will be because your Administration has not done enough to defeat terrorist organizations — including al Qaeda — that have gained strength since 9/11.

“I, for one, do not intend to back down – not to the terrorists and not to anyone, including a President, who wants Americans to cower in fear.

“We are a strong nation. We cannot allow ourselves to be scared into suspending the Constitution. If we do that, we might as well call the terrorists and tell them that they have won.”
—U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes, “Letter to President Bush regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” February 14, 2008

[A requiem after the jump.]

A requiem for the Republican party

I begin this requiem, like it began, with these words:

“Those who seek to live lives for you, to take your liberty in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen, must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will. And this nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

“Now, those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrrany. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!
—Barry Goldwater, Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech for the Republican Party, July 16, 1964

Those words, uttered by “Mr. Conservative” himself, marked the beginning of modern day republicanism. They were the rallying cry of the Republican Party during the crescendo of the 80’s. How ironic that a half century later, we see the Republican Party has purchased their prominence at the price of the very core of their values!

So now we see the fruition of modern day Republicanism: a party inhabited by little men, guided by little strategies, backed by little voices. In times we have asked for and received the unity of the world, you have returned it with the division of politics for petty gain. In times we have hoped for hope, you have given us resigned despair. In times requiring the empathy for another, you have given us the anger of selfishness. In times, as in all times, demanding the courage of conviction, you have only traded in fear.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither.”
—attributed to Ben Franklin, An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, 1759

For this country, I am ashamed. For this world, I am saddened. But for you, who so cheaply value this country’s values, I shall not shed one tear for you.

5 thoughts on “Requiem for the Republican Party

  1. You err in assuming that Republican === Conservative. Many of the Goldwater/Reagan wing of the party don’t consider Bush, et al. to be truly “Conservative”.

    Yes, the GOP is on the ropes (and rightly so for picking candidates like McCain and Bush), but don’t make the mistake of seeing the death of the GOP as the death of Conservative thought.

  2. Finster,

    One aspect I detest about libertarianism is their predilection to “ex post facto” claim some as libertarians and deny others as not. So would be the same of conservatism and liberalisms.

    I do not err at all. For are we to claim that the distinction between “Republicanism” and “Conservatism” is not a wholly recent thing? Both banners were waived as one during its height with nary an objection! Nor the distancing from McCain and Bush by these so called “conservatives” simply because they don’t wish to hitch their train to a loser and can propagate a meme later that they found McCain lacking and not themselves wanting? 9 in 10 supported the war at one point, I highly doubt the 1 that didn’t would have labeled themselves “Republican” or “Conservative.”

    And since the Right Wing has turned “liberalism” into an epithet, I think it only fitting I see “conservatism” as deserving the same, at least for this article.

    Our admonishment against Communism is that it is too idealistic and not wise to the practical consideration of the individual. My admonishment about Conservatism is that it too idealistic and not wise to the practical result of the collection of power.

    I imply that Barry Goldwater was right with these words, though today, not in the way he meant then:
    “Now, those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth, and let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrrany. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.”

  3. Goldwater was right and in the way he meant it then. Goldwater broke with the Republican because of their fear mongering. Take a read of .

    Both of the last two guys you quote would be considered Libertarians. Not because of some ex post facto opinion or by how they or anyone else classified them. Libertarian just means putting the rights of the individual above all. It is negative rights over positive rights, unless the positive rights are created via contract (such as The Constitution.)

    Unwarranted wire taps is a clear violation of negative rights. As citizens, we have the right to NOT have our privacy arbitrarily violated. Being against wiretaps is an easy call for a Libertarian.

    Both political parties in America have some facets of their platform that favor collective rights over individual rights. Thus Libertarians are usually forced to pick between two evils. There are definitely those that think the protection of their property rights is more important than protecting their civil liberties, and they wind up voting Republican. Of course the Republicans just turn around and pass No Child Left Behind, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, etc.

  4. I am well aware that Goldwater is a classic Western Conservative, has viewpoints that Libertarians would ascribe as libertarian. Goldwater has been a fierce defender of independence, personal liberty, and republicanism. And many that it is Goldwater’s uncompromising and independent nature that made him essentially unelectable on the national stage in 1964 and his direct inheritors completely marginalized after 1992 (thereafter called “Goldwater Republicans”). The uncompromising nature is exemplified by the phrase : “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” said in 1964 and again in 1980 during Reagan’s nomination.

    But Libertarian? Puh-leez. And Ben Franklin also? That’s exactly the ex-post-facto bullshit I’m talking about. Let us make absolutely clear the difference in valuing personal liberty (which every American does) and Libertarianism (the party and the political view) which, last I checked, Goldwater was a progenitor of but never supported.

    Goldwater retired a Republican and considered himself part of the Republican Party, and, while the Libertarian party existed in 1998, I don’t remember him ever endorsing a Libertarian.

    Please read and listen to the full text of the speech for the quoted section I took and honestly tell me that if you think in 1964 Goldwater is talking about the excesses and avarice of his own party after three decades of dominance, or the dangers of “conformity of equality” implied by Civil Rights movement of the time and, far more obviously… Communism (big duh!).

    You can see why he so respected Eisenhower, as he echos this speech, which is is now attributed by Democrats as a liberal! 😀

  5. Like I said, I don’t care how you classify somebody (Franklin for example) or even how they classify themselves (Goldwater.) Libertarianism is simply a set of principles, philosophies, whatever. It is not a question of party. I will reiterate it for you since I must not have explained them sufficiently.

    Libertarianism, or classic liberalism, is simply putting the rights of the individuals above the group. So even though some might argue that America in general is better off if the government can make warrant-less wiretaps because it helps national security, a Libertarian would say that does not matter. You cannot infringe on the rights of the people being wiretapped.

    Similarly, many argue that public education helps America in general because we are better off if more people are educated. A Libertarian would say that does not matter. You cannot infringe on the rights of the people who have to be taxed to pay for public education.

    Those are the two “poles” of Libertarians, personal liberties and property rights. Historically Republicans respected one pole (personal liberty) but not the other. Democrats did the opposite. These days, Republicans respect neither.

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