The Church of Republicanism

The Party of Ronald Reagan is in trouble. With the recent departure of long-time Republican Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party, “GOP” seems to stand for “Get Out, Please” instead of “Grand Old Party.”

Specter switching allegiances (motivated partly by the desire to keep his senatorial seat in 2010) should be a sign that things are not all right with the party of Abe, Teddy, and Ike. President Obama’s popularity, the dramatic shift toward blue on the 2008 electoral map, and the possibility that the GOP will lose their filibuster power are all reasons why the Republicans have reasons to worry about the future.

Several key Republicans, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, former Florida governor Jeb Bush (as if Americans want to hear from another Bush), and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), are leading the charge to go on a “listening tour” to Democratic-leaning communities and find out why the GOP lost big time in 2008. Whether this will work remains to be seen.

Instead of Republicans touring the country to ask people why their lives are suffering, they should look inwards and find the answers from within. Besides Arlen Specter and other moderate Republicans leaving the party, there are other hints that Republicans should pick up on that explains why the Era of Reagan has come to an end.

First of all, Rush Limbaugh seems to be running the party. Limbaugh is a very polarizing figure who is neither a politicians nor an intellectual. Call him an anti-intellectual. He is more concerned about party politics than actual ideology. Rush adds very little to civil political discussion other than to brainwash his listeners, whom he lovingly calls “Dittoheads,” to believe whatever he says on the air. The Republicans should really call themselves the Party of Rush Limbaugh instead of the Party of Ronald Reagan.

Unfortunately, one cannot underestimate Limbaugh’s influence. The millions of listeners he garners daily should impress anyone in the telecommunications enterprise. He has the power to make or break certain elections. If he wants to force out anyone from office, he can certainly do that. He helped remove several moderate Republicans who weren’t considered “conservative” enough.

The infamous Club for Growth is a nonprofit fiscally conservative organization that raises money to oust Republicans who vote for any type of government spending. In 2008 they financially supported Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign after criticizing Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee for being a tax-increasing liberal governor. Huckabee a liberal? Hmm. How do they sleep at night?

The GOP is becoming more narrow than ever. They seem to look upon any form of government spending as evil, except for money being used to fund two overseas wars in the Middle East. That kind of spending is okay, I guess. Republicans suggest that tax cuts are the way to end the recession. I seem to be missing something, because I thought the recession was caused by overzealous spending by banks and corporations. If they are going to wag their finger at reckless spending, they should point to organizations like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Citigroup, and the American International Group (AIG). That kind of reckless spending sent us into the ditch, not oversized taxes.

Republicans chastise President Obama for gambling away our children’s future by bailing out banks and the auto industry. They argue that increasing the national debt will only make nations like China and Saudi Arabia more powerful and the United States weaker. Maybe they should have thought about that before they cut off funding for public schools through “No Child Left Behind.”

Right now, the Republican Party is like a fundamentalist church. If you don’t align with party dogma, you’re out. If you disagree with the big wigs, consider yourself an enemy. Consider yourself a dirty liberal. Think of yourself as anti-American.

The Church of Republicanism will find itself just like several other fundamentalist conservative churches across America: shrinking and shrinking into oblivion. There is a reason why church attendance is going down among several denominations across the country. There’s no room for error. If you go against the church, you go against God. And when you go against God, you go to hell. Hell can be a pretty lonely place.

Specter disagreed with his church pastor (Reverend Limbaugh, perhaps?) and was promptly excommunicated. There will be others if the GOP continues its course of becoming more and more right winged. It makes sense: the more rigid you are, the less followers you will have. It’s simple logic. Right now, the Democratic Party is encompassing liberals as well as moderate conservatives. If Republicans want to regain any sort of foothold in American politics, they need to take it upon themselves to embrace a more pragmatic conservatism that is flexible to changing economic and social realities.

That means supporting President Obama and paying attention to the plight of ordinary Americans across the country. They can disagree with the president, but please try to work with him. He’s the current leader of the free world and they have to acknowledge that. He was fairly and democratically elected and should be treated as someone who was. Crying over how the “liberal” media treated Sarah Palin unfairly will do them no good now.

Like any church, the GOP needs to get back to its roots and remember the purpose of a conservative government: to give people the means and support to live fruitful, independent, productive, and happy lives. Making government the enemy of the people will produce very few results in these tough times.

The American church, likewise, should get back to the teachings of Jesus and disregard the trash spewed by fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the late Jerry Falwell. But enough of that. The problems of the American church is a whole other blog entry.

For now, this whole “listening tour” is a farce. Republicans should look at the “accomplishments” of the Bush presidency as explanations for why people voted blue this past November. Two overseas wars, a Pakistan spinning out of control, broken communities in New Orleans, torture memos, high unemployment rates, soaring national debt, and unpopularity overseas should be enough evidence that the Republicans desperately need a face lift.

Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, two Republicans who embraced pragmatism and a government that can do good for people’s lives, are probably rolling around in their graves when they hear about Newt Gingrinch being a possible 2012 presidential candidate. Like any conscientious churchgoer, if the dogma stinks, leave it right away.

Leaving a bad church will not make God angry. Turning people away from the church because you refuse to listen to anybody’s opinion other than your own will. Making the GOP more moderate and less of a “Rich Old White Guys Club” should be a top priority. If not, the Party of Reagan will become more like the Party of Nixon: paranoid, power hungry, and coming to an end in disgrace.

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