Last night, I ventured over to the Harrisonburg Republican Party headquarters. Given how many hours I had volunteered to the party over the years, I thought I should pop my head in to see how they were doing. After all, I still have many friends who call the GOP their political home.
While there, one activist suggested that I should return to the fold, that I ought to re-join the party that I had been an active part of from the ages of 15 to 33. I reminded her that I never left the party, it was the party which left me. However, her suggestion reminded me of an email that I saw many years ago.
Here, let me tell you a story.
On June 26th of 2009, the secretary of the Republican Party of Harrisonburg sent out the email pictured above, lambasting what the city committee considered to be “phoney Republicans”. In this case, they were a list of 8 Republicans who voted for Cap and Trade.
What made this message significant was that it conveyed the idea that the Republican Party stood for a certain set of values; furthermore, those members of the party who opposed these core values weren’t really Republicans. These days, some might call these people RINOS (Republican In Name Only). To me, it emphasized the idea that Republicans needed to stand on principle, and that merely following party labels blindly could get us in all sorts of trouble.
However, in the five years that have transpired since this email, unfortunately, it seems that the GOP has broken free of ideological mooring. As far as I have observed, the party doesn’t seem to be particularly concerned about issues anymore. In my opinion, what any party worth its salt should be doing is promoting principles as their most important goal…as well as helping elect politicians who embrace these values. Instead, it seems that the greatest (and perhaps only) priority of the GOP is supporting and electing Republicans…even if they embrace a philosophy abhorrent to the grassroots. For a few notable examples, consider senators like Lindsey Graham, John McCain, or the late Senator Arlen Specter. How Specter was seen as a good guy when he was a Republican and then a bad guy when he switched to the Democratic Party was beyond me. After all, his principles remained more or less constant. Today, where any politician stands on any specific issue is irrelevant. Only complete and unquestioned loyalty to the party is all that is valued anymore.
I haven’t seen an email like this one from the city committee in a long time. I do have to wonder though…what if the current secretary of the Harrisonburg Republican Party were to send out a message like the one I have shared with you? Would the city committee even approve such as message any longer? Would the establishment insist that he be stripped of his position immediately?
What do you think? Is there such a thing as “phoney Republicans” anymore? I think the answer is yes. However, over the last several years, the party has become so saturated with these so-called “phoney Republicans” that those who point out this truth are becoming the minority and thus silenced or ostracized. Don’t they know that they are sowing the seeds for their own demise?
Has the party label expanded so much so that one doesn’t need to believe in supposedly core principles? Let me ask you this, besides Dave Brat, when was the last time that you heard a Virginia Republican stand up for or even mention the Republican Party Creed of Virginia? Outside of a handful of exceptions, have both the label and the party been rendered effectively worthless?