John Adams once wrote in a letter to Samuel Adams, dated October 18, 1789: "All good government is and must be republican...Are we not, my friend, in danger of rendering the word republican unpopular in this country by an indiscreet, indeterminate, and equivocal use of it? Whenever I use the word republic with approbation, I mean a government in which the people have collectively, or by representation, an essential share in the sovereignty...the republican forms in Poland and Venice are much worse, and those of Holland and Bern very little better, than the monarchical form in France before the late revolution".
Adams, of course was referring to our fledgling new nation and not to the Republican Party. But the statement can be applied to both the republican form of government and to the party with which I identify.
So where have all the Republicans gone? I am not talking about the R.I.N.O.S. (Republicans In Name Only), but the Republicans of the Grand ole Party. I am talking about the Reagan Republicans. I assure you those Republicans are out there. They are among us. Many of these Republicans are my friends and they are a major factor in why I appreciate and am proud of my party. But those Republicans on Capitol Hill who have placed power and politics before people and principles are not the Republicans who contributed to my political philosophies.
I have my share of criticisms for President Barack Obama and many of the leaders of today`s Democratic Party. This does not make my own party immune from my criticism. And I have a few.
The Republican Party lost its moorings as all man-created institutions do. Governments, political parties and even religions all are frail unless governed with principle and responsibility. This has been a great part of the problem.
Today, when one says "republican" the electorate immediately thinks "christian, conservative, right-wing". While these elements are present in the G.O.P., it does not do the party justice.
Our party has been strong on civil rights, dating all the way back to the founders of the N.A.A.C.P. and we have had a progressive record in that regard. We have been strong when it comes to the national defense and to less government. But we have slipped. The powers that be in the nation`s capital have lost touch with the "Party of Lincoln and Reagan", turning the G.O.P. into a political fraternity and a place where power and influence trump the principles of what the party is suppose to represent.
The suggestion that the Republican Party is intolerant is also a myth created by those who can not reconcile that principles often trump personal interests for those affiliated with our platform. For example, former Vice-President Dick Cheney was attacked by media and liberal alike for his belief that marriage was between a man and a woman. How could he be so insensitive when his own daughter was openly gay?
The Bush administration was constantly attacked over this issue time and time again. During the presidential debates last year, that same question was posed by the moderator to then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama. Obama also said he did not support gay marriage and defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Where was the outcry? Where were the "advocates for tolerance" to call Mr. Obama `intolerant`?
Where the Republican Party lost its ground was in failing to articulate the very principles which set us apart from the Democratic Party. They failed to articulate the fact that we, as Republicans, recognize that America is diverse and that EVERY AMERICAN has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We recognize that all families are different and that the "Ozzie & Harriet" myth of how families really are IS rejected for the reality that people come from all walks of life. We are from different cultures and different experiences. There are republicans who are single mothers and some who are in a committed gay or lesbian relationship who are raising children. Republicans are black and white and represent every nationality on the planet. Some are rich and some are poor. Some are Christian and others are Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist and even athiest. Some are compassionate and others are intolerant and ultra-right in their thinking. Some are soldiers for human rights and others are racist and full of bigotry. The Republican Party is as diverse as the landscape of our country. We strive for lower taxation and call for fiscal responsibility.
So what defines the Republican Party? This is where we have failed and failed miserably. We have failed to articulate who we are.
The Republican Party believes in less government control over the lives of the American People. We believe in lower taxes, compassion for people of every background and we believe in the value of every citizen who is willing to support their country first and their Party second. We believe in family values, recognizing that all families are unique and different and that they are an integral part of our country. We believe in the separation of church and state, while recognizing that people of faith are the heart and soul of the United States, regardless of what faith they choose to observe. But we also recognize that the best government is that which governs from a secular vantage point, while the American people keep the heartbeat of faith alive.
For some of you, you do not recognize this definition as that of the Republican Party, and that is the fault of none other than the Republicans themselves. Not only have we failed to articulate who we are and why, but many of our own leadership have left the principles of the Party to the side while they grab for personal political profit and power inside the Washington beltway.
I take my daily swipes at our friends on the Democratic side of the aisle, but not without the realization that my own Party has failed it`s people and the country in a variety of ways.
This should not take anything away from the very vital fact that what I have just described is the Republican Party I identify with. To be fair, there are some Democrats on Capitol Hill who are more fiscally conservative and stronger when it comes to the national defense than some of our own Republican members there. So this brings us back full circle to a truth upon which we will all agree. We were never meant to place our faith and our destiny in the hands of any politician from any political party. They will disappoint you and they will, from time to time, fail you. And this will occur more often than not. We identify with one party or the other based upon a variety of factors, but first and foremost we should do so because we believe deeply in the principles that Party represents. Because I believe in that which I`ve outlined above, I am a Republican. I am also a Republican who is responsible for living up to those principles and not relying upon a Washington politician to do it for me.
I will continue to work to make our party better and stronger. I will support those who represent the principles I believe best represents the Republican Party and will hold my Party to account when they are wrong.
The Republicans I know represent these principles. The future of the party rests in a new generation who will emerge to redfine and articulate who we are and do so without compromising our core values and beliefs, but also embracing our critics and opposition alike in the common goal of doing that which is right for our nation first. This is where our allegience must remain...to America First.
The Republican Party is my party and, I`ll cry if I want to. But I will not cry without bringing solutions to the problems facing our party. As far as my friends in the Democratic Party, we`ll that`s your mess to clean up. We have our hands full with our own. You can`t worry about your neighbors family, when your own is in disarray. but that doesn`t mean I have to have you over for a BBQ either. Ah, what the hell, come on over and we`ll spend the day bickering about whose partisan family is more disfunctional.
Until then, let us remember the one fundamental obligation of both political parties...the obligation to put aside the Donkey and the Elephant when the Eagle is wounded and needs nursed back to health. Once the eagle is again soaring and free, then both parties can take pride in having put America First.
Will Griffith, Chairman
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL