It doesn’t happen very often but occasionally a political party folds up its tent and goes home. In the 1850s, the once proud Whig Party of Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster collapsed. The main culprit was the expansion of slavery into the federal territories, a volatile issue that became a fissure, splitting the party in two and leading to its ultimate extinction.
It happened before and it could very well happen again. Just hours after Romney’s loss to Obama, the GOP began handwringing over the possible reasons why the unthinkable happened. Two answers have been put forth so far, with both sides facing off against each other. A great fissure is shaping up within the party, just like the Whigs in the 1850s.
The Whigs had what amounted to a pro-choice attitude toward slavery. They could get no consensus on that issue, so they fell apart. Today’s Republicans seemingly cannot agree about immigration and the continuation of the welfare state. So that is the essence of the debate: is our problem demographics or the welfare state? My answer: It’s demographics AND the welfare state. If not addressed, both issues will kill the party and the republic.
Speaker John Boehner and conservative talk show host Sean Hannity are already saying we need immigration reform. As does Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who says he is proud of the million immigrants that come into the country every year. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is now working with liberal New York Senator Chuck Schumer on a comprehensive immigration plan. Even Senator Rand Paul now wants a path to citizenship for those millions of illegals already here. So it’s probably a done deal.
Yet the GOP insists it wants the border sealed first. But are Republicans really stupid enough believe that Obama will actually secure the border in exchange for GOP support for a plan? I sure hope they are not that gullible, for it will be just like the promised spending cuts Democrats proposed to Reagan and Bush I in exchange for tax hikes. Liberals got what they wanted, as taxes went up considerably, but conservatives were shafted as spending went up as well.
The welfare state is expanding faster than anyone can imagine, which is Obama’s goal. Keep more and more Americans dependent on Washington and keep Democrats in power forever. In a major story held until after the election, food stamps went up in the month of October by more than 420,000. And that’s just one month. More than 47 million Americans are receiving food stamps and total welfare expenditures are now more than $1 trillion annually, far more than is spent on national defense. And given their recent track record, Republicans are unlikely to challenge this outrageous expansion of government.
Other prominent Republicans are caving in on the issue of raising tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, in order the fund the spending sprees. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, and several GOP governors have spoken out in favor of it. What’s wrong with these guys?
Yet true conservative Republicans are pushing back against the leadership, but only time will tell if it will be enough. Should the GOP fall apart, all is not lost. Not even close. So there should be no panic if true conservatives leave in droves.
When the Whigs fell apart in the 1850s, running its last presidential candidate in 1852, the modern Republican Party was erected on its shattered pieces in 1854. It picked up the fragments of the Whigs, mainly the economic elements, while adding the remnants of the old Liberty Party, the Free Soilers, and a few Anti-Nebraska Democrats, to create a new, stronger and more viable party, one that gained control of the House in just four years and the presidency in just six. In fact, since Lincoln’s election in 1860, the new Republican Party held the White House for the next 52 years, save Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms. It was in no way a weak upstart party.
What’s more, historically-speaking we are overdue for a party re-alignment. Former presidential candidate Herman Cain has already stated publicly that the Tea Party should replace the GOP. But opinions on this strategy vary.
Perhaps the real question is not IF the party will go the way of the Whigs, but SHOULD it be allowed to collapse. Personally, I don’t believe it’s worth saving, at least as long as the current crop of party leaders remain at the helm. As conservatives, we have been burned again and again by these sheep in wolves’ clothing. They talk conservatism but cave in at the first sign of real resistance, governing as moderates and liberals – “me too” Republicanism.
If Republicans won’t fight back against the Obama Regime and the socialist agenda, if they move to the left in a foolish attempt to seem more compassionate and thereby more electable, if they won’t stand up for traditional America and our values, if they won’t safeguard the Constitution, then I say let it fall. Goodbye and good riddance.
This column appeared in the Laurel Leader Call (Laurel, MS) on Tuesday, November 20, 2012.