Republicans’ uncivil war
he Republican Party is at war with itself and it is losing. For every successful Republican governor, there are Republican state legislators who embrace personally oppressive and interventionist initiatives. For every reasonable Republican member of Congress, there are more who embarrass. Every compelling soundbite from Republican candidates and pundits is overwhelmed by others that repel.
It wasn’t always this way. Republicans used to be known for ending wars, not starting them. President Dwight D. Eisenhower negotiated the end of the Korea War, Richard M. Nixon ended the Vietnam War and Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War. Republicans used to be known for competent management. Truman turned to Herbert Hoover to bring order to the chaos of the New Deal. Reagan established the Grace Commission to focus on government waste and reform, while launching the Baldridge Award to provide stellar examples of leadership, organizational effectiveness and customer service to make America more competitive. In 1995, Republicans in Congress cleaned up the scandal-ridden mess left by decades of institutionalized corruption.
Republicans were also once known for their emphasis on science, empiricism and environmental responsibility. Teddy Roosevelt established parks and a national ethic for conservation. Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency. Reagan led the way for private-public partnerships for historic preservation, notably the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and started planning the moon missions. Man landed on the Moon under Nixon and dominated space with shuttles under Reagan.
Americans rewarded these policies and actions. The Reagan Revolution dominated America in the 1980s with three consecutive landslides of 489, 525, and 426 electoral votes. There was talk of the Democrats’ demise. Then something went wrong for Republicans. Terribly wrong.