J. KARL MILLER: Is it finally time to bury the Republican Party?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:50 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Soon after the first week of November, the pundits began gleefully writing the epitaph for the GOP. The stock reasons have been advanced — Republicans are insensitive to the needs of the poor, the elderly, the infirm, the young, women, minorities and everyone else who happens to reside in the growing victim class.

Not only are we racist by our very nature, anti-clean air and water and unalterably opposed to common-sense gun regulation, we are also controlled by the religious right, the tea party, the wealthy, the military industrial complex, neocons and Wall Street. In a nutshell, the GOP is dying, its base of old white people no longer a vibrant and diverse electorate without appeal to a new and youthful electorate.

To those who will accuse me of hyperbole, I challenge you to read The New York Times, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Kansas City Star and view a few nights of MSNBC's lineup of Chris Matthews, Larry O'Donnell, Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton. Following the military teachings of Sun Tzu, "know thy enemy and thyself," mandates that I spend at least as much effort studying the left which is hardly endowed with "sugar and spice and everything nice."

Having arrived on the scenes in the 1930s, I have watched the Democratic Party celebrate the Republicans' funeral a number of times. Four consecutive elected terms by President Franklin Roosevelt effectively eliminated the GOP as did Lyndon Johnson's landslide victory over Barry Goldwater. And, it was deemed beyond hopeless that any Republican could win the presidency following the popular Bill Clinton.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "the reports of the demise of the Republican Party are greatly exaggerated" — it is reminiscent of a hopeful "whistling past the graveyard" on the part of Democrats. The oft-quoted adage "fish and company smell after three days" can be applied to presidential incumbency — after two or three terms of the same party, the voters have a habit of changing political horses.

Nevertheless, the Republican Party of today faces a long row to hoe before it can compete in presidential elections. The sophomoric "choosing up sides" between establishment Republicans, conservatives, tea party denizens and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) has unnecessarily fragmented the GOP so badly that too many acted the part of petulant playground children taking their ball and going home (refusing to vote).

Each of these factions claims the mantle of former President Ronald Reagan, advertising themselves as the only true Republicans/conservatives worthy of the name. Each is also wrong and pathetically so — Ronald Reagan united people, and his political mantra included his 11th Commandment, "Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican," and a belief that anyone who supported the party 80 percent of the time was to be embraced.

Every political observer worth his salt had the misfortune to watch the GOP snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by losing a very winnable election. It was lost by factions fighting among themselves, blaming everything from the slate of candidates, the primaries, the lack of conservative principles and finally, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, the selected presidential team.

This bitterness has prevailed deeply into the aftermath of the election with little or no sign of party unity. Not a day passes that one cannot hear the same vitriolic denigration of the Republican Congressional leadership from right-wing talk hosts, conservative columnists, members of Congress and the man on the street.

There is even talk among party members of switching allegiance to the Libertarians — who, by the way, await our arrival with open arms. The downside of joining the Libertarians or other minor party affiliation is stark — one has more chance of winning something by buying a lottery ticket.

Mr. and Mrs. Republican/conservative — you blew this election by failing to turn out and vote in the numbers required to win. The differences between the two presidential candidates' ideologies, energy development, fiscal policies, size and scope of government and personal responsibility were so sharp that it was patently unthinkable that Republicans of every stripe would not mobilize in force to cast a vote against the incumbent.

Abraham Lincoln described our situation to a tee with his "house divided against itself" oration. Surely with so much at stake in the economy alone, the establishment Republicans, tea party activists, conservatives and those known as RINOs can find a common ground before 2016 is upon us.

There is no earthly reason to go "Democrat Light" as has been suggested (most often by Democrats always ready to help). The Republican Party principles remain sound. There is no Ronald Reagan on the skyline, but, if we cannot mobilize as one party, employing the leadership principles of Reagan while ignoring the efforts of the left to define us, the GOP will elect a Democrat again in 2016.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Christopher Foote March 13, 2013 | 9:50 a.m.

When your best candidate, and Romney was by far your best candidate, opines that 47% of the country are takers, your problem is not due to a lack of unity but rather a lack of serious ideas to move the country forward. Romney was using that phrase to defend his signature policy initiative, namely tax cuts for the wealthy coupled with steep spending cuts for programs that benefit the disadvantaged. Since that is a hard-sell, especially in an environment of 8% unemployment, he had disguise it with some good old class war-fare. It probably didn't help that he personally payed a lower percentage of tax on his total income than most working class families struggling to get by.
In the last 6 elections, the GOP has won the popular vote for President just once (2004). Until they adopt a new economic message for the top of the ticket, that trend looks to continue, especially if Hillary decides to run in 2016.

(Report Comment)
frank christian March 13, 2013 | 12:05 p.m.

Chris - "Romney was using that phrase to defend his signature policy initiative, namely tax cuts for the wealthy coupled with steep spending cuts for programs that benefit the disadvantaged."

Blatantly false statements such as these, from liberals such as you, broadcast over and over, are what keeps Democrats in control and true help for "disadvantaged" from ever occurring. Republican tax cuts have always been "across the board" and you know it. I appreciated my Reagan tax cut (about $5.00 more per week in my pocket).

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield March 13, 2013 | 12:27 p.m.

A lot of people, particularly those in the middle class, dislike the reality check of hearing that their tax breaks for mortgages, kids, retirement, education and so on add up to the point that they're taking more than they're contributing. But that guilt and indignation don't change the reality.

(Report Comment)
Ed Lane March 13, 2013 | 12:59 p.m.

Hillary = another arrogant elitist, just what we need. We've had one for the last 4 and a half years and look what he has accomplished!!!!! Oh, he has created something, racism at its worse since I don't know when.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller March 14, 2013 | 11:45 a.m.


Thanks for your erudite response to Mr Foote--it saved me the trouble.

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