The Fork in the Road – Republican Party at a Critical Point in its History

Republican Party

Are you watching the coverage of the 2016 Republican Party Primary? Of course you are! It’s without a doubt the most fascinating reality TV show for nerds like me. Let’s be honest, everyone loves a first-rate train wreck. It’s like watching VH1s, Flava of Love reality show, back in 2006. Remember at the season finale when Tiffany “New York” Pollard and Nicole “Hoopz” Alexander waited eagerly for Flava’ to decide who he would choose to be his girlfriend. Then we watched in anticipation as “New York” went straight cra-cra’ because the 50-year old Hip-Hop legend didn’t choose her.   Ewwh… train wreck!

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Now let’s get back to politics.

Consider the 2016 Republican Party Presidential field; Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carley Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Scott Walker.

Over the course of the last few months, this collection of successful Americans has not impressed a broad spectrum of the voting public. Under the national spotlight each are proving to be very deficient candidates. It appears this dismal group possesses no understanding of the once great historical significance of the Republican Party. Today, in order to garner support from its far right-wing base, these candidates resort to spewing a new-fangled version of conservatism that is not sane, consistent or even practical. Unfortunately, this is the new GOP and these are the political sons and daughters of former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Regrettably, today’s Republican Party is far removed from its record of championing the disenfranchised and building today’s US infrastructure.

Recall Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation (1863): He was the first Republican President to issue an order freeing all slaves in the confederacy. Consider a Woman’s right to vote (1872). The text of the 19th Amendment was written by Republicans Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It was then introduced by Republican Senator Aaron A. Sargent of California. The Amendment was finally ratified in 1920. If you need more current examples, consider the Interstate Highway System (1956) constructed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. It put millions of Americans back to work and helped businesses and families move easily across the nation. Then in (1957) Dwight Eisenhower deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas to protect desegregated schools. The list of historical Republican achievements for fairness and common purpose is too many to count. However, today, this former proud party has disintegrated into fractured subgroups that primarily push issues like protecting access to guns, receiving greater tax cuts at any cost and imposing its form of Judea-Christian doctrine. On the other hand, today’s GOP actively diminishes minority needs, it pushes against any worker-class pay increases while loathing universal health-care and spurning immigrants. Imagine what former President Abraham Lincoln would think about today’s Republican Party!

Now, let’s take a look at the current front-runners for the 2016 Republican Party Presidential Nomination:

Donald Trump
The loud, proud real estate tycoon has taken full control of the GOP electorate. It makes sense that many keen voters would flock to the most financially successful presidential prospect. Yet, when considering someone’s personal success, one must also consider the genesis of how it was achieved. For example, over the course of his self proclaimed illustrious business career, he has filed for bankruptcy four times. The first one was in 1991 – Trump Taj Mahal; then 1992 – New York’s Plaza Hotel; then 2004 – Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts; lastly in 2009 – Trump Entertainment Resorts. *There are reports that have estimated the total value of these four bankruptcies at $3.3B. Keep in mind that bankruptcy is where a person or entity cannot repay the debts it owes to creditors. Given the fact that the US is already $18.3 trillion in debt; do you really want Donald Trump managing our economy?

Ben Carson
Now, let’s deliberate Dr. Ben Carson. He is a brilliant Neurosurgeon of historical significance. Yet as a politician he continues to say very disturbing things, such as; the Congress should be able to remove judges for voting for marriage equality; He actually said that Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery; He further explained that being gay is a choice because prison turns people gay. Lastly, regarding the recent horrific Umpqua Community College shooting in Oregon, he articulated that the victims should have charged the shooter and not stood still as he killed them. He virtually put the blame on the victims. Need I say more?

Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina has received a lot of praise for her national debate performances and yet her record as a CEO has not been fully evaluated.   Back in 1999, when she joined Hewlett-Packard as the CEO it was going through a turbulent time due to the tech bubble burst. In an effort to kick start a recovery, Fiorina purchased HP’s rival, Compaq for $19 billion in 2002.  Her purchase of the fledging Compaq brand is now viewed as the worst acquisition in the history of the tech sector. This disastrous decision ended up costing 30,000 HP workers their jobs, over a period of nearly six years. By the time she left HP in 2005, its stock had lost nearly half its value.

Jeb Bush
Now, let’s dive into the Bush! Jeb Bush was a successful Governor of the great State of Florida from January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007.   During his tenure he expanded educational opportunities for all children; signed the Affordable Healthcare for Floridians Act; he grew Florida’s economy without raising taxes and worked with the federal government to preserve the state’s beloved Everglades. However, as a 2016 Presidential candidate his performance on the national stage has been less than stellar. In a surprising moment at a campaign event in South Carolina, he was asked how he planned to get Blacks to vote for him. Jeb Bush responded, “Our message is one of hope and aspiration…it isn’t one of …we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Apparently his belief is that Blacks only want free stuff.   I’ll stop there!


In the end, given the shortcomings of the top tier Republican candidates, it’s hard to see how the party reshapes itself into a trusted partner that can resume a national leadership role in the United States. It’s truly disappointing to see the previously named “grand old party” rapidly lose its appeal to an ever-evolving nation to which it once played a vital role in positively shaping its foundation. Personally, I am hopeful the Republicans go through a rigorous soul-searching process in order to find a space and place that is more in-line with today’s America. If not, the Republican Party will further lose its relevance, thus denying the United States from benefiting from this once respected voice of democratic principles.

Vanity Fair, REALLY RICHJUNE, June 29, 2015; 4 Times Donald Trump’s Companies Declared Bankruptcy
Image from US News, June 19, 2015; Donald Trump Complicates 2016 Race for the GOP

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