What is it to be a moderate Republican?

| November 12, 2008 | 2 Replies

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?

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Category: American Culture, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Karl says:

    When is war only war when it is declared by another "nation?"

    We've had the war on poverty, the relentless war against God, war against slavery, war against those who believe in virtue, war against civil injustice, and the list goes on an on. The Red Sox and Yankee rivalry at times seems like war to some.

    Modern society or culture makes it possible to call anything "war."

    Frankly in any war, it is only principles that winout for a short while, all parties involved lose some of their dignity and self-respect, not to mention casualites be they injuries or deaths.

    Anyone who declares any side the winner in a battle of man against man is only fooling themselves. This is why the USA doesn't just go in and clean the clock of the opposition and then leave the enemy to settle their infighting. If the people of IRAQ fully want to be ruled by some single focused Arab aristocracy nothing we can do will change that, but at least the USA will not be ignorant of the fact that others have declared war on both our nation and it's ideology.

    I don't agree with the mindset of most of the people here on Dangerous Intersection, but I will not see the rest of our Nation associated with this point of view without speaking up.

    Is that war, I sure don't think so, but some people's values and points of view clearly are struggling for supremacy.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/deadlineusa/2008/

    http://www.reuters.com/article/GCA-Russia/idUSTRE

    http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/05/07/moldov1586

  2. Erika Price says:

    Oh Ron Paul. His ideal Republican Party is not the Republican Party of today, the deficit-spending, constitution-ignoring, personal-life-intervening bunch of brutes that they are. I don't understand why he remains attached to a party that not only fails to reflect his own beliefs, but that spits on him for not behaving like a "real" Republican.

    I was one of many who hoped Paul would jump ship for a Libertarian presidential bid this year. But no matter his party ID, I have a great deal of respect for Paul and that more "Republicans" in power thought like him. I think a lot of "Republican" voters do.

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