Our nation needs two healthy political parties. Currently, there is only one, the Democratic Party. The Republican Party today is on life support, but there is hope.
Historically, all political parties have gone through periods of corruption and malaise. Once the Democrat Party was known as the Carping Party, and in that same time-frame Republicans were progressives.
Much of what we now enjoy and welcomed occurred under Republican governance: national parks; regulation of corporations, unions and railroads; better inspection of food. Wendel Willkie was a Republican and internationalist sometimes siding with FranklinD. Roosevelt. President Dwight D. Eisenhower spent federal funds on highways at a time of high taxes and debt.
Republicans took a wrong turn in the ’70s and ’80s when the Movement Republicans formed in California; encouraging disastrous legislation that kept that state from developing effectively.
Today in the state of Washington, we have similar Republicans in the guise of Tim Eyman and his followers who want to do the same thing in this state as was done in California. California is beginning to improve but still has a long way to go; diverse demographic shifts and Gov. Jerry Brown are turning the state around. California has to improve its once-magnificent educational system nearly destroyed by the policies of Movement Republicans.
Gov. Chris Gregoire left office with a strong message for our new Gov. Jay Inslee: “We can’t save our way out of the present economic problems.”
Governments have limits. Liz Cheney, in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, wrote “government has limits” not small government. Beyond that, she offered nothing of value for Republicans. She and many Republicans are held hostage to the ideas of the John Birch Society, concepts from the Cold War years and economist Joseph Schumpeter and supply side economics long discredited.
All of these are echoes of the moralizing of President Herbert Hoover and Secretary of State Andrew Mellon of the Great Depression. Cheney urges Republicans to fight for freedom. Freedom for whom?
I said there was hope for the Republican Party, but don’t look for it to occur even in small ways before 2020. The recent autopsy that Republican Party leaders went through looks to corporate processes to help them regain political ascendency: change the logo, new marketing strategies, reach out to minorities, ethnics and women.
Shallow thinking is evident for the changes are not substantive. Republicans are not good coping with change. For decades, they have looked to the 18th and 19th centuries as their center. This reveals a lack of reality in the face of vast changes in science, technology, medicine and theology.
Once Republicans rode the public bus system like the rest of us (Sen. Robert A. Taft Sr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1952). He didn’t fly on loaned corporate jets, ride in limos. Republicans need ideas, policies and intelligent candidates who value diplomacy rather than war; who care about all citizens, not just the 1 percent.
We need in both parties young people who are educated for governing, have ambitions to serve this nation rather than self and take a long view. President Barack Obama has exhibited all of this, though he is hampered by congressional members who belong to the “ignorance caucus” and cater to “deficit scolds” forcing reasonable, thoughtful Republicans to resign, cease to run again for office or become independents.
Republicans should heed the warnings of Albert Camus in his 1940 novel “The Plague.” The author used the disease as a metaphor for fascism.
It is time for Republicans to exterminate the flea-ridden rats carrying disease from their party. Plague tends to go into remission and also tends to return infecting nations and institutions.
The Grand Old Party, once nobly progressive deserves a better future than it currently has.
Martha J. Pierce is a member of The Olympian’s Board of Contributors. She may be reached at MJP101@gmail.com.