Inspired by Chris Matthews’s “The Rise of the New Right” shown on MSNBC, I was anxious to find out more about how this currently displayed attitude came to be. The more I looked into it the more I discovered that party platforms had nothing to do with the espoused rhetoric of the few. It was more about the person than it ever was about a particular party. This series of articles will show how the similarities between people are astounding and it has nothing to do with the party that they choose to belong to. Using the information from Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) and Spartacus Educational (www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk), I intend to show you just how ideologies can triumphs party, where the affiliations can be changed but the philosophy never does. Many of these people you have met before and some you may have not. For those you have met, you may learn something new and for those that you have not, prepare yourself. Thanks to Chris Matthews who opened my eyes and I hope that I can do half as good a job with others as his documentary did for me.
For the last few months now, cable news has been fixated on the Tea Party. This new grassroots organization has become a ratings bonanza and the more the media-appointed representatives have to the say the faster it is recorded and elevated as the top news story of the day. I believe that this party started out as well-meaning citizens fighting to stop the lobbyist’s control of Washington but was soon overtaken by those seeking prominence and fame. Their initial chant of “voters rule” was drowned-out by the voices of those who saw them as an avenue to regain the majority status and rule again. The initial voices did not attract the cameras as well as the stars headlining a “restore us to power” line-up and now the founders grow silent. The “restore us to power” crew now owes the title Tea Party and what they have managed to do with it is probably far and beyond that which the founders of that party intended. We hear those stars speak on behalf of the American public as if what they choose to stand for is monolithic to all voters. Things like immigration, civil rights, gay rights and abortion. They speak to the cameras and those standing in the crowd as if they have the truest of sense what all Americans want. They speak of their stances as supported by Goldwater, Regan and others. I say these true patriots speak to the sounding of their own voice but do not speak for me and history dictates not for some of those that they swear by as well.
The John Birch Society was established by Robert Welch in 1958. Welch made it clear he wanted a “secret, monolithic organization” that would “operate under completely authoritative control at all levels”. Welch explained that “democracy is merely a deceptive phrase, a weapon of demagoguery, and a perennial fraud”. In a 1983 edition of Crossfire, Congressman Larry McDonald (D-Georgia), then its newly appointed president, characterized the society as belonging to the Old Right rather than the New Right The society opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying it was in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and overstepped the rights of individual states to enact laws regarding civil rights. Welch had supported Goldwater over Richard Nixon for the Republican nomination, but the membership split, with two-thirds supporting Goldwater and one-third supporting Nixon. So much for a monolithic organization that would operate under completely authoritative control at all levels.
Barry Goldwater broadly opposed strong action by the federal government. Although he had supported all previous federal civil rights legislation, Goldwater made the decision to oppose the Civil Rights Act. His stance was based on his view that the act was an intrusion of the federal government into the affairs of states and, second, that the Act interfered with the rights of private persons to do business, or not, with whomever they chose. Goldwater rejected the legacy of the New Deal enacted by Congress in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (FDR) first term as president, but viewed abortion as a matter of personal choice, not intended for government intervention. Goldwater criticized the military’s ban on homosexuals saying “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.” He also said, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight. By the 1980s, the increasing influence of the Christian right on the Republican Party so conflicted with Goldwater’s libertarian views that he became a vocal opponent of the religious right on issues such as abortion, gay rights, and the role of religion in public life.
Ronald Regan was originally a member of the Democratic Party; he switched to the Republican Party in 1962, complaining, “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.” Reagan opposed certain civil rights legislation, although he later reversed his opposition to voting rights and fair housing laws. He strongly denied having racist motives. When legislation that would become Medicare was introduced in 1961, Reagan created a recording for the American Medical Association warning that such legislation would mean the end of freedom in America. Reagan said that if his listeners did not write letters to prevent it, “we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free. In his “Time for Choosing” speech given for Barry Goldwater’s campaign and is considered the event that launched Reagan’s political career, he said that “the Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that; it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.
His 1980 presidential campaign stressed some of his fundamental principles: lower taxes to stimulate the economy, less government interference in people’s lives, states rights, and a strong national defense. Reagan’s policies proposed that economic growth would occur when marginal tax rates were low enough to spur investment, which would then lead to increased economic growth, higher employment and wages. Critics labeled this “trickle-down economics”-the belief that tax policies that benefit the wealthy will create a “trickle-down” effect to the poor. Following his less-government intervention views, Reagan cut the budgets of non-military programs including Medicaid, food stamps, federal education programs and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He protected entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, but in order to cover newly spawned federal budget deficits, the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, raising the national debt from $700 billion to $3 trillion. Reagan described the new debt as the “greatest disappointment” of his presidency.
Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act in 1986. The act made it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants, required employers to attest to their employees’ immigration status, and granted amnesty to approximately 3 million illegal immigrants who entered the United States prior to January 1, 1982, and had lived in the country continuously. Upon signing the act at a ceremony held beside the newly refurbished Statue of Liberty, Reagan said, “The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.”
These “stars” of the Tea Party should be asked how they feel about Regan’s view on immigration or what he described as his greatest disappointment of his presidency. They should be asked whether they believe that the “trickle-down” economy work as expected and if this country is now in a much better position. They should be asked if they believe that Medicare has caused us to sit down with our children and our children’s children to tell them how at one time men were free in America. They should be asked if it really doesn’t matter if you are straight in the military as long as you can shoot straight. They should be asked if abortion as a matter of personal choice, not intended for government intervention. They should be asked if the Civil Rights Act interferes with the rights of private persons to do business, or not, with whomever they chose, making it okay to deny service based on race, creed, color, national origin and sex. They should be asked these things because if they speak for me, I would like to know what my answers would be to these questions. They should be asked but the question is will they? Will they ever be forced to speak the voices of all America on those subjects so essential to their platform and let Americans know what Americans are thinking and want?
The lesson here is simple and plain. You can disagree with a Democrat and still be a Democrat. You can disagree with a Republican and still be a Republican. You can disagree with an Independent or Libertarian and still remain an active part of that group. Bottom line, you can disagree with another patriotic American and still remain a patriotic American. We are and never will be a monolithic nation. We all have our opinions and belief and they are just as important as any one else’s. Believing in something different does not make you less of an American, it makes you more because the essence of this nation is the heart, soul and resolve to stand up and defend that which you believe regardless of how high and wide the wave is. For those who claim to speak for me but ignore my wishes, know that even thought they may not look like me they were my “Founding Fathers” too.