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History of GOP Statism

September 26, 2009 8:25 PM

As I have written before, like many other libertarians, I am very frustrated with the Republican Party. The reason? Many prominent and powerful Republican elected officials have caved to the ideas and the policies of statism. We call such officials squishes, RINOs, or just plain traitors. Poking around Wikipedia history articles, I have found that the history of Republican statists (people who, in the words of Ayn Rand, implement fascist policies while mouthing socialist slogans) is a long and dreary one. Here is what I have learned:

Before the Civil War: the Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854, and came to power with Lincoln's election in 1860. It's roots go back farther. Bearing in mind that the prominent threats to liberty of the early Republic included slavery, military conscription, excessive Federal power including tariffs and taxes, abuse of peaceful Native tribal people, and the risk of runaway central banking, all of these issues were on the minds of the post-founder generation.

At the time, probably the three most prominent statesmen were Daniel Webster, John Calhoun, and Henry Clay. Of the three, the one whom I view as most often (but perhaps not always) consistent with the founding principles was New Hampshire's Daniel Webster. Webster, however, pragmatically supported the 1850 compromise between advocates and opponents of slavery and opposed a South Carolina attempt to nullify a Federal tariff law.

Calhoun, from South Carolina, was also fairly solidly in the liberty camp, but for one thing: he was openly and proudly pro-slavery.

Clay, however, was another matter. A Loyola College economist, Thomas DiLorenzo, went so far as to call Clay a "national socialist" based on Clay's policies. That would be almost irrelevant, but for one thing: Henry Clay was Abraham Lincoln's mentor and intellectual hero.

Lincoln the Commander-in-Chief: though popular with most Americans for his actions which freed the slaves and saved the Union, Lincoln enacted military conscription which brought about populist draft riots in northern cities, and the very act of saving the Union undermined the principles of State sovereignty, principles needed desperately during an era of Obama-Pelosi-Reid. The result was that the GOP became a battleground between statists and classical liberals up until the so-called Progressive Era, when, in a nutshell, the statists won.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressives. Bear in mind that today, "Progressive" is a code word for New Leftists, the intellectual heirs of the Communist Third International. In my opinion, it is helpful, when encountering the word "Progressive" in its modern context, to think "Communist." For that reason, in this weblog, I always put the word "Progressive" in quotes. There is nothing progressive about a "Progressive." The policies of such people are leading us straight back to the Dark Ages.

However, the "Progressives" hijacked their name from an earlier movement, one which was championed by the Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, who founded a third party due to disagreements with mainstream Republicans, and named the party the Progressive Party. Roosevelt's warmongering (his Secretary of State called the Spanish-American War, "a splendid little war") is famous, but he and his Progressive movement went much farther, essentially making a mixture of capitalism and anti-capitalism a permanent fixture of American politics. (There is a name for such a mixture: fascism.) Roosevelt was certainly not alone in this policy, but I view him as the titular head of the Progressive movement of his era, and therefore, a great champion of Republican statism.

Following in Roosevelt's footsteps, the Wisconsin-Indiana-Washington State family dynasty of Robert LaFollette and sons kept the GOP Progressive movement in power until the anti-Communist Joseph McCarty was elected to the hereditary LaFollette Senate seat. Bear in mind that this movement was a mixed bag: the senior LaFollette, for instance, promoted "railroad rate reform" and Bismarck-style worker's compensation legislation but opposed US involvement in World War One.

Mavericks. Cattle ranchers refer to an unbranded stray calf as a maverick, who is subject to branding by the first rancher who finds it. (I remind you of the recent press meme that the GOP needs a "new brand.") The most famous maverick of our time is John McCain, the Republican who, in my opinion helped put Barack Hussein Obama in the Oval Office by running an incompetent campaign. However, the GOP has had more extreme mavericks than McCain.

One such maverick was Montana pacifist Jeannette Rankin, America's first congresswoman, and the only member of the House and the Senate to vote against the Declaration of War on Japan of December 8, 1941. Yes, she was a Republican. Was she a statist, however? She voted for military conscription and reportedly supported equal pay laws for women as well as other "feminist" legislation. Yes, I think she was a statist.

Another GOP maverick was Margaret Chase Smith, a Maine senator who was active in the campaign to vilify Sen. Joseph McCarthy for his anti-Communist politics, and in fact deserves much of the credit for ending McCarthy's career. She is the direct political ancestor of today's two GOP Maine Senators, Collins and Snowe, who are largely responsible for the electoral success of the Obama Stimulus package, know to its critics as the Generational Theft Act of 2009. I wrote about it here.

The Rockefeller Era. Before the terms "RINO" and "squish" became popular, statist Republicans were generally called Rockefeller Republicans, named for Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York and Vice-President of the USA during the Gerald Ford administration. Another prominent New York statist Republican was Senator Jacob Javits. The top Statist Republicans of that era however, were President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, who had been vice-president under Eisenhower. We are still hoping to purge the last dregs of Republican statists from the party, the remnants of that era.

Today. Arlen Specter, fortunately, has been exSpecterated from the Grand Old Party, but the sorry spectacle of GOP statists lingers on. I would like to give special mention to Senator Lindsay Graham, who voted for the first Latin-American "Progressive" to be appointed for life to the United States Supreme Court.

Sadly for our Constitution, our dollar, and our capitalist economic system, however, Graham, McCain, Collins, and Snowe are not the only statists left in the GOP. During the Barack Hussein Obama era of galloping statism, the fate of our republic hangs in the balance.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org era gop however party progressive republican statists ]