The Republican Party and Silk Purses

Bill Neinast

An age old idiom is that you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  Could that wisdom be proved wrong after the election next month?

The current status of the Republican Party might be compared with a sow’s ear.  The Trump campaign is the final nudge of the party’s disintegration into a fragmented party that is definitely not a silk purse.

The fuse to split asunder the GOP—the Grand Old Party—was lit on January 22, 1973.  That is the day the Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade that some restrictions on abortions were unconstitutional.

That action by SCOTUS infuriated anti abortion groups which began railing against the decision in any venue they could find. They soon began calling themselves pro lifers and found the best sounding board in, of all places, the political party that had stood for individual liberty.

An example of this transformation is the Washington County Republican Party.  Ten years after the Roe v. Wade decision there was no Republican office holder in the county and there was only one polling location for Republican primaries.

Twenty years later, however, the party was growing and holding precinct and county conventions.  In 1992, the party’s Temporary Resolutions Committee drafted a platform to be considered at the county convention.  The preamble for the platform was:

“The Republican Party of Washington County believes that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights including life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness.  We believe that the best guarantee of these rights is a united government of all the people, not a government divided by special interest groups.

“The Republican Party of Texas has become of age.  It is strong, it is vibrant, it has a vision, and it is committed.  It is committed to the traditional values of God, home, and country.  It believes in the rights of the individual, in the family, in basic education—reading, writing, and arithmetic—in strong law enforcement, in right-to-work laws, and in balanced budgets.”

The draft then proposed 11 planks.  The titles were: limited government; multi-party system; term limits; balanced budget; victims’ rights; family values; America 2000 (President George H. W. Bush’s education proposal); free enterprise; economic growth; initiative, referendum , and recall; and prison reform.

The proposed platform did not even make it to the floor of the 1992 county convention for discussion and a vote because it did not contain a plank opposing abortion.  The convention was devoted, instead, to crafting a pro-life resolution to be forwarded for consideration at the state convention.

That was the first crack in the Republican Party.  A divide was beginning to form with social conservatives on one side and limited government proponents on the other.  

Then about ten years ago a bit of fresh air wafted over the limited government side.  The TEA Party (Taxed Enough Already) began making news.  This group ardently supported a basic tenet of the GOP—limited government and taxation.

Unfortunately, that movement was promptly infiltrated by social conservatives and became an uncompromising part of the Republican Party.

Now, BOOM!, Donald Trump waltzes in and and what remained of the old GOP is being left in tatters.

A good definition or description of those tatters may be a sow’s ear.

So here’s the perspective.

This may be a prime time to fashion a silk purse out of that sow’s ear.  The Republican Party’s National Committee can and should divide itself into two distinct parties.  

Let Ted Cruz lead what was the TEA Party into a new organization with an honest name.  Maybe the Christian Conservative Party would be a good fit.

Then restore the Republican Party to the Grand Old Party devoted to restricting the federal government to its constitutional limits, balanced budgets, and personal freedom.

That would be a silk purse.    


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