Thursday, February 16, 2012

The New Republican Party: Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion

In the election of 1884, a badly ethically challenged Republican candidate, James G. Blaine, stumbled towards an election day date with disaster. A Democrat had not won the White House since 1856.

This election featured nominees that resembled nothing more than Newt Gingrich split in half (Republican congressional leader with ethics issues and a "world historical" complex--Democrat with family baggage.) The only issue separating them was whether or not the United States ought to have a protective tariff. A Blaine supporter, in New York of all places, fired off a fatefully dumb rhetorical shot. He claimed that the Democrats were the party of "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion." The well-meaning fellow apparently forgot that liquor drinkers, Catholics, and Confederate supporters (not just a few in New York City) also voted.

In 2012, the Republican Party has turned full circle.

Rum. Republicans tended to support the temperance movement in the 1800s. This movement served as the model for several different successful progressive pushes in the early part of the past century. Progressivism tends to push for a better and healthier society at the expense of individual rights and liberties. In 2012, one probably sees more outspoken advocates of marijuana legalization in the conservative camp than elsewhere. Republicans also tend to be more consistently libertarian, which is leading towards agonizing debates inside the party and conservatism as well about issues such as gay marriage.

Romanism. This was one of many terms tossed about for years as a derogatory term for the Catholic Church. Opponents had a strange fear that the Pope intended to use Catholicism to usurp civil authority in the United States. Today, the Church and the GOP find themselves on the same side of many debates, including abortion and religious liberty.

Rebellion. In 1884, this term looked backwards at the Civil War with all of its bloodshed. Today, rebellion looks forward, anticipating what kind of civil disobedience may be necessary if the reigning party is allowed to continue its clamp down on freedom. Parents cannot pack their own children's lunch without reference to the government. Catholic organizations may be forced to violate centuries of belief. Liberals need to understand that Catholics and other Christians can look back to a variety of martyrs for inspiration if they wish to peacefully and effectively rebel. These go from Jesus Christ himself through Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. The Tea Party is just the beginning.

Conservatives ought to be proud to be the movement of run, Romanism, and rebellion. Each means a strident defense of rights and the Constitution.

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