What happened to Republican orthodoxy?

political orthodoxy


How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!–Samuel Adams


Opposing war

Before both wars with Germany, Presidents Wilson and Roosevelt waited for attacks to sway public opinion before asking Congress for a declaration of war. Till then, Republicans had demanded neutrality. President Roosevelt branded the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in advance of a declaration of war an infamous “sneak attack.” Today, President Trump threatens a similar attack, and Republicans are largely silent. If the mutually assured destruction doctrine works with more powerful adversaries, China and Russia, why not North Korea? What happened to the GOP?

Working with allies

Since the Second World War at least, our government has put much emphasis on working with allies. The Korean War was ostensibly conducted by the United Nations. President G.H.W.Bush organized a coalition in support of the First Gulf War; President G.W.Bush sought allies, primarily Britain, for the Second Gulf War. Today, President Trump is disdainful of allies, and Republicans are largely silent. What happened to the GOP?

Fiscal conservatism

Formerly Republicans were fiscal conservatives often insisting on a balanced budget. They still may pay lip-service to that idea, but no longer support it. Every subterfuge is used to justify unfunded tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations. What happened to the GOP?





About whungerford

* Contributor at NewNY23rd.com where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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43 Responses to What happened to Republican orthodoxy?

  1. Joseph Urban says:

    Since George Bush the first decided to directly appeal to the racists with is Willie Horton ads the GOP has moved from being a centrist-right party to a far right party. The active solicitation of right wing religious votes, accompanied by massive federal payments to right wing churches under Bush 2, accelerated that process. His “White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives”, started in 2001, specifically funneled my tax dollars to religious institutions. And they paid the GOP back by voting as a block. It is no accident that the most un-Christian president in modern times, Donald Trump, is the darling of the right wing Evangelicals.
    The GOP of the 1960s has long been dead and gone. We now have the GOP that Barry Goldwater warned us about. He feared the takeover by religious extremists. This is one area where the GOP does not mind the government “transferring” your hard earned tax dollars! The GOP let the dogs into the house. Now we are all infested with fleas.


  2. Arthur Ahrens says:

    as far as working with allies—-

    Thanks to Trump, America’s word is now worthless:



  3. whungerford says:

    Did Goldwater really warn against religious extremism? I remember Goldwater as extolling “extremism in defense of liberty.” I also remember being in a car in Detroit with fellow workers who offered to push me out when they learned I didn’t intend to vote for Goldwater.


  4. Arthur Ahrens says:

    “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”
    Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)


  5. Arthur Ahrens says:

    “There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’ ”
    (1909-1998) US Senator (R-Arizona) Source: Congressional Record, September 16, 1981


  6. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Goldwater was also deeply worried about the Religious Right’s long-term impact on his beloved GOP. “If they succeed in establishing religion as a basic Republican Party tenet,” he told U.S. News & World Report in 1994, “they could do us in.” In an interview with The Post that same year, Goldwater observed, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

    There’s lots more…..

    Google is our friend.


  7. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Remember when Republicans were patriots?

    Four U.S. Special Forces soldiers were killed earlier this month while on patrol in Niger. President Trump’s silence on their deaths has been notable, with 10 days having passed without any comment from the White House — 10 days during which Trump visited his golf club in Sterling, Va., five times.

    Where is the Republican outrage at this incredible behavior?


  8. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Nice piece.


  9. Arthur Ahrens says:

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
    —–Upton Sinclair 1935


  10. Arthur Ahrens says:

    and another Krugman piece:
    The G.O.P. Is No Party for Honest Men


  11. whungerford says:

    Paul Krugman is an expert on taxation, but in this time of “alternative facts” it hardly matters. He can be blithely dismissed as partisan by those who dislike his views.

    When I discussed neutrality in this article, I had in mind that it represented caution with respect to warfare. Today, when I read John McCain’s speech warning about ‘half-baked, spurious nationalism,’ I remembered that caution might sometimes be carried to excess.


  12. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Invoking “alternative facts” or “fake news” has absolutely no effect on either reality or facts. Neither does dismissing arguments advanced by Nobel Prize winners as partisan. Perhaps the invocation enables people to declare victory in a debate, but this particular rhetorical device hardly resolves any rational discussion towards resolution.

    I was responding to the Fiscal Conservatism part of your thesis, where Republicans were deficit hawks, but are now more than willing to give the farm to their donors and to hell with the exploding deficit.

    Your comment about McCain’s speech is somewhat opaque. Could you elaborate?


  13. whungerford says:

    I sought to clarify, perhaps needlessly, that I didn’t advocate a return to Republican orthodoxy on dogmatic neutrality, but only urge caution about militarism.

    Krugman noted that only 60% of us understand that proposed tax reform favors the rich. The rest must be either uninformed or accepting of alternate facts. I would like to know if Tom defended Republican tax reform at his recent meetings and how his audience responded, but I have seen few reports. I would expect there were howls of outrage.


  14. Rynstone says:

    Everybody who I know who voted for Trump would not be considered a religious voter. You are way off base and discounting the anti-Hillary factor.

    Also, the media has also done an extremely poor job of reporting the Americans lost in Niger. All Trump supporters I know don’t want Americans in Africa.
    Which Administration sent them there.

    We do not want to be the world’s policemen.
    All of you Trump haters would be much more accurate if you had said President Trump has caved to the big military industrial suppliers complex, as apparently have many past administrations.


  15. whungerford says:

    President Trump says that ISIS must be defeated; he even claims to have done that. Should ISIS be allowed to regroup in an African sanctuary? Why should that be ok?


  16. Joseph Urban says:

    Rynstone. A agree with you that many Trump votes were based on a hatred of Clinton. The GOP did a very good job of smearing her, especially with the Benghazi hearings. And many fake news stories before the election. Oddly, 4 more Americans have been killed in an African country and we do not hear anyone blaming the Sec of State or calling for an investigation! (Remember Benghazi?)
    That said, the intolerant, right wing religious base that Goldwater warned us about had already taken hold of the GOP in the late 20th century and has solidified it’s influence in this century. They are part of the GOP base and are rewarded appropriately.
    I am not sure why you would attempt to blame Obama for any troops in Africa. Trump has been POTUS for 8 months and has had ample time to pull troops out. He has actually increased the number of ground troops in the Middle East.
    I agree that we should not be the world’s policeman, but that does not mean we should stop cooperating with our allies and work together. Mr Trump seems to live under the illusion that the USA has no place in organizations that seek to bring nations together. That is short sighted and only creates a power vacuum that both China and Russia are eager to fill. China already has invested billions in Africa and will be the major player on that continent in the near future. International cooperation has prevented a WW3 for over 70 years. It works.
    I also agree with you that the military-industrial-Congressional complex (predicted by Eisenhower) has created a death grip on our spending. Congress regularly appropriates more money that the president asks for. It creates jobs in their districts.All POTUSes have faced this problem.


  17. Arthur Ahrens says:

    I really enjoy the tired cliches that surface repeatedly.

    ‘World’s Policeman’ is one of my favorites. Why don’t we examine another view?

    The United States created, in the years after WW2, a world order built around US interests.

    This world order is designed to enrich US business interests, to keep our citizens safe, to create jobs and profits for our military-industrial complex, and to ensure that we retain our position as the richest, dominant global superpower.

    It is much more accurate to call the United States the world’s majority shareholder, where we invest our resources in global stability in self-interest, not charity.

    You’d think Trump / Trump followers would be able to understand the concept of the US as a business with a need for stability. It appears that this is not the case.

    The propaganda machine continues to pound away at the selfishness of our allies and the importance of taking care of business at home. The fact that this is counter productive is lost in the noise.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. whungerford says:

    It is hard to see Reagan’s arming of the mujahidin, the Second Gulf war, or Trump’s threats of nuclear war as “investments in global stability.” If business interests predominate, one might expect our government to be more conservative and less militaristic.


  19. Arthur Ahrens says:

    We had been involved in a Cold War with the USSR since WW2 (~3 decades) when Reagan funded Operation Cyclone in the early 1980’s. I find it very easy to see his efforts as a proxy war against the evil communists.

    The Second Gulf war was ill-considered. It’s impossible to do a cogent analysis in 500 words or less about what is now judged to be a failure. And I don’t want to start an argument about an event that has been well documented elsewhere. My short version: the US needed the oil.

    And to describe anything that Trump does as building stability? No way! The man thrives on chaos.
    We’ve had the Monroe Doctrine, the Trumane Doctrine, the Kennedy Doctrine….and so on.
    Now we have the Trump Doctrine: Obama built it. I broke it. You fix it.


  20. Arthur Ahrens says:

    What’s happened to Republican decency?

    I’ve watched Trump as he lowered the bar for what is considered acceptable behavior for a human being over the course of his campaign and during the first year of his presidency.

    Mocking McCain’s heroism.
    Mocking a Gold Star family
    Mocking a disabled reporter
    Bragging about sexual assault
    and the insults and slander go on…

    The man also lies as often as he breathes. Nothing he says can be trusted. He’s cratered American credibility. No country can any longer trust the US to honor its treaty obligations.

    And the latest detestable acts of indecency: the despicable way he handled the murder of 4 American soldiers in Africa, politicizing his failure while offering craven excuses for his behavior.

    And I have become so accustomed to this vile man that I fully expect the decency bar to be lowered still further.

    Where is the Republican outrage?

    This is a serious question. I will ignore any responses involving ‘whataboutism’.


  21. whungerford says:

    I believed, before Trump was elected, that business interests–the ruling class–would never allow it. I don’t know why this proved wrong–were they overconfident in Clinton, did they fail to recognize danger in Trump, or were they blindsided by the effectiveness of Russian propaganda?

    Paul Krugman wrote that 40% of us fail to understand that Republican tax reform benefits the wealthy. Is 60% all that truth can command? If 40% is normally as low as a bad idea can fall, Trump is nevertheless below that.


  22. Arthur Ahrens says:

    The business interests and the Republican Party believed then that they could control Trump.
    And they are slow coming to the truth. But reality cannot be denied, and they are starting to realize how mistaken they were.
    Pence is bought and paid for and will do the bidding of his corporate masters.
    We’ll see how long Trump remains.


  23. Joseph Urban says:

    Arthur . I agree with you completely , especially when you point out that Mr Trump has lowered the bar for acceptable human behavior. He has coarsened the political dialogue. In both parties.
    I watch MSNBC and , once in awhile, Fox News. It is like two different universes. On one hand he is the devil, on the other the greatest president ever. But what is most disturbing to me about the left and right wing news is the almost exclusive focus on trivia.
    Mr Trump makes idiotic comments. That should no longer be the news. The media is doing an awful job of actually reporting the on the kind of issues that are really important. The EPA. International trade. Women’s health care rights.Global warming. The Puerto Rico fiasco. Etc.
    Mr Trump’s coarseness has been a smokescreen for real damage being done to Americans on a daily basis.


  24. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Mr. Urban,
    And I agree with your points about the media and both political parties.
    There is real work to be done, and the media are consumed with Trump’s tweets. They are only interested in money. Fox and MSNBC. And everyone else.
    It’s up to US to separate the wheat from the chaff.
    And I see few on the left and few on the right who are able to do so.
    But I love Franken!


  25. whungerford says:

    Is it the media which is consumed with Trump’s tweets, or rather us the public which demands this “news.”


  26. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Is there a point to the question?


  27. Joseph Urban says:

    Good example. Today I was watching the Session hearings live on CNN. After about 30 minutes the network broke into the hearings and a talking head “explained” to us all about the hearings rather than let the viewers just watch the hearings and think for ourselves. I quickly switched to MSNBC. After a couple minutes, they did the same thing. An “analyst” telling us what the hearings are all about rather than letting us listen for ourselves.
    OK I reluctantly switched to FOX. Again, the network broke in and another talking head told me what to think. Finally I found C-SPAN. They just showed the hearings with no editorial comments. I could think for myself !!! Something the other networks should have done. They could hold their analysis until the hearing was over.
    All these talking heads who know very little about actual issues but a lot about “politics”. They seem to talk a lot about is whether this or that particular issue is good or bad for the GOP or Dems, not very much about whether it is good for the nation.
    I long for the days of Cronkite and Huntley/ Brinkley.


  28. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Mr. Urban–

    Your post was dead on. It’s too bad that so many news consumers (left, right and middle) are content to let other people tell them what to think.

    I like to tune into the network news every evening to see what the official line is. I surf between NBC, ABC, CBS. It astounds me how often they cover the exact same stories IN EXACTLY THE SAME SEQUENCE! I’m not interested in the news from them, just how they are guiding the sheeple.

    A little off topic—I’ve seen the networks closely cover events where Trump is under scrutiny for screwing up (most recently was the Puerto Rican debacle). While the big 3 are consumed with this late breaking news, FOX invariably serves up a piece of pap about a Trump ‘success’, completely ignoring current events. Observing this editorial bias is useful for evaluating future reporting.

    And boy, I do miss Cronkite, Huntley / Brinkley, Eric Sevareid, the original MacNeil /Lehrer. The good old days…


  29. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Regrettably, it took fewer than 24 hours for Trump to lower the bar further:
    1. He finally called the wife of a serviceman KIA in Nigeria (12 days and 5 golf outings after the event) and put his foot in his mouth by saying “he knew what he was getting into”
    2. He did not refer to the serviceman by name at any time, merely ‘your guy’.

    OK–tone deaf–poor manners–a snafu…solved by apologizing.
    Of course, Trump never does anything wrong, no apologies, only attacks.

    3. Attacks the Congresswoman who reported the incident.
    4. Says he has ‘proof’ of what he said. Later proven to be a lie by shill shrill Sanders
    5. Calls ‘the wife’ a very nice lady, never referring to her by name.
    6. The ‘wife’ and the ‘mother’ corroborate the Congresswoman’s account.
    7. Sanders then attacks the media for disrespecting the president! The chutzpah is unbelievable.

    ********A Trump Trifecta!************
    Disrespects a dead patriot
    Attacks a Congresswoman
    Attacks the media

    What happens tomorrow from this hideous piece of garbage?


  30. whungerford says:

    The aged lama, in James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon,” explains that the monks read only hundred year old newspapers–the lama says that time is necessary for proper historical perspective.


  31. Arthur Ahrens says:

    What happened to Republican decency?
    W courageously addresses Trump’s moral bankruptcy today!


    Note too, that if one wishes to evaluate FAKE MEDIA / NEWS
    one need only
    read / view
    Canadian / British / French
    papers/ TV


  32. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Addressing the so-called ‘World’s policeman’ W states,
    “We’ve seen the return of isolationist sentiments, forgetting that American security is directly threatened by the chaos and despair of distant places.”

    Liked by 1 person

  33. whungerford says:

    Trump’s predecessors, including GWB, look better and better by comparison to many of us, but Republicans seem to disdain their once prominent fellows–Boehner, Dole, McCain, Romney et. al.


  34. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Imagine that you are a country NOT the US. France, Japan, Canada….

    Evaluate the US from 1992 to 2017. Clinton, W, Obama, Trump

    Would you believe that the US is a consistent partner, worthy of trust, with W and Trump aberrations?
    Or would you believe the US is an inconsistent partner, worthy of trust, with Clinton and Obama the aberrations?


  35. whungerford says:

    “There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon said.

    I don’t know how Bannon has become important in American politics, but evidently he has. I would not lump GWB with Trump–I believe GWB was a main stream Republican, while Trump is not.


  36. Joseph Urban says:

    Bannon was ALMOST correct. He just needed to add two words to his sentence…”until now”.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Arthur Ahrens says:

    I just saw this: “What about Mitch McConnell? Watching him standing alongside Trump in that Rose Garden ceremony the other day was like watching a hostage video. “Stockholm syndrome” is something conservatives used to accuse liberals of suffering from. Ha! Today it’s the so-called establishment Republicans who have fallen in love with their mad captor.”

    Corker about Trump today:
    “Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president,” Corker tweeted Tuesday. He added the hashtag #AlertTheDaycareStaff, repeating his earlier description of Trump’s White House as an “adult daycare center.”


  38. Arthur Ahrens says:

    First, McCain
    Then Corker
    Then Tiberi
    Now Flake, a true American hero.
    We’ll see how many more men of honor appear.

    Meanwhile, there’s tom reed…..


  39. Arthur Ahrens says:


    By Jeff Flake October 24 at 7:45 PM

    Jeff Flake, a Republican, is a U.S. senator from Arizona.

    As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.

    On June 9, 1954, during the Army-McCarthy hearings, Welch, who was the chief counsel for the Army, famously asked the committee chairman if he might speak on a point of personal privilege. What he said that day was so profound that it has become enshrined as a pivotal moment in defense of American values against those who would lay waste to them. Welch was the son of a small prairie town in northwest Iowa, and the plaintive quality of his flat Midwestern accent is burned into American history. After asking Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his attention and telling him to listen with both ears, Welch spoke:
    “Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.”
    And then, in words that today echo from his time to ours, Welch delivered the coup de grace: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

    The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well.

    After Welch said his piece, the hearing room erupted in applause, those in attendance seemingly shocked by such bracing moral clarity in the face of a moral vandal. Someone had finally spoken up and said: Enough.

    By doing so, Welch reawakened the conscience of the country. The moment was a shock to the system, a powerful dose of cure for an American democracy that was questioning its values during a time of global tumult and threat. We had temporarily forgotten who we were supposed to be.
    We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be.

    There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious.

    How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?

    How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?

    How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?

    How much more damage to our democracy and to the institutions of American liberty do we need to witness in silence before we count ourselves as complicit in that damage?

    Nine months of this administration is enough for us to stop pretending that this is somehow normal, and that we are on the verge of some sort of pivot to governing, to stability. Nine months is more than enough for us to say, loudly and clearly: Enough.

    The outcome of this is in our hands. We can no longer remain silent, merely observing this train wreck, passively, as if waiting for someone else to do something. The longer we wait, the greater the damage, the harsher the judgment of history.

    I have been so worried about the state of our disunion that I recently wrote a book called “Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle.” I meant for the book to be a defense of principle at a time when principle is in a state of collapse. In it, I traced the transformation of my party from a party of ideas to a party in thrall to a charismatic figure peddling empty populist slogans. I tried to make the case for the sometimes excruciating work of arguing and compromise.

    This was part of the reason I wanted to go to the Senate — because its institutional strictures require you to cross the aisle and do what is best for the country. Because what is best for the country is for neither party’s base to fully get what it wants but rather for the factions that make up our parties to be compelled to talk until we have a policy solution to our problems. To listen to the rhetoric of the extremes of both parties, one could be forgiven for believing that we are each other’s enemies, that we are at war with ourselves.

    But more is now required of us than to put down our thoughts in writing. As our political culture seems every day to plumb new depths of indecency, we must stand up and speak out. Especially those of us who hold elective office.

    To that end, and to remove all considerations of what is normally considered to be safe politically, I have decided that my time in the Senate will end when my term ends in early January 2019. For the next 14 months, relieved of the strictures of politics, I will be guided only by the dictates of conscience.

    It’s time we all say: Enough.


  40. Rynstone says:

    Jeff Flake campaigned as a small government conservative but then voted like a big government Progressive Liberal.


  41. Arthur Ahrens says:

    Rynstone says:
    August 17, 2017 at 1:39 pm
    Arthur, unfortunately you are so closed minded it is impossible to have an open and honest discuss or debate with you. However, I will always defend your Right to spew forth you closed minded nonsense. Good day sir.


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