Yesterday, I was talking with a fellow who asked “What does it mean to be a ‘moderate’ Republican. In answer, I started describing my Grandfather, who urged fiscal responsibility and strong defense but who, at the age of 96, was aghast that the U.S. had started a needless war in Iraq. “We need to invest that money at home,” he repeatedly said prior to his death. He was a reasonable man, in the sense that he didn’t vilify people with whom he disagreed–he carefully tried to articulate reasons for his disagreements with them.
Today, I stumbled onto an article by Ron Paul, “GOP should ask why U.S. is on the wrong track,” in which he lays out criteria for what it means to be a “Republican.” Paul’s list doesn’t describe many current Republican office-holders. Rather, I think his list describes what I think of when I think of a “moderate Republican.”
• Limited government power
• A balanced budget
• Personal liberty
• Strict adherence to the Constitution
• Sound money
• A strong defense while avoiding all undeclared wars
• No nation-building and no policing the world
I realize that these criteria are not precisely defined, but I think that they do set forth many of the traditional values that defined what it was to be a Republican. If you compare these items to the rhetoric of Sarah Palin, you can see how drastically the GOP has changed from what it once was. In my opinion, Ronald Reagan, the patron saint of modern day Republicans, would be horrified to hear of the governing methods of George W. Bush, especially regarding foreign policy.
Paul was accused of not being a “Republican” by many current Republican office-holders. He bemoaned:
Party leaders concentrated only on political tricks in order to maintain power and neglected the limited-government principles on which they were elected. The only solution for this is for Republicans to once again reassess their core beliefs and show how the country (not the party) can be put back on the right track. The problem, though, is regaining credibility.
How can a party that still pretends to be the party of limited government distance itself outright from these views and expect to maintain credibility? Since the credibility of the Republican Party has now been lost, how can it regain credibility without embracing these views, or at least showing respect for them?