I really have to wonder what has happened to the Republican Party. There was a time even recently, when they had beliefs and a philosophy that, although I disagreed with it, could be defended. They had leaders with political ideas -- leaders that loved and revered the Constitution, like Dwight Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater (pictured), William Buckley and others. These men would argue political ideas and political realities, but they did not indulge in the politics of hate, and they actually wanted a better America for all its citizens.
Those former Republican leaders were true conservatives. They would never have stood for many things the modern party has engaged in. Here are some of the differences between the "true conservatives" and today's new or neo-conservatives:
1. Real conservatives honored the constitution and considered it the supreme law of the land, while neocons would like to replace it with their religious beliefs.
2. Real conservatives believed American soldiers should participate in foreign wars only as a last resort to defend America, while neocons believe that American ideas can be forced on other nations through military power.
3. Real conservatives would never have countenanced the spying on American citizens without a search warrant, and revered the rule of law and the concept of habeas corpus, while neocons are willing to spy without warrants, deny habeas corpus and ignore the rule of law.
4. Real conservatives believed in an adequate government with limited powers, while neocons believe in a small government with unlimited power.
5. Real conservatives believed in fair and open markets where everyone had a chance to better themselves, while neocons willingly tilt the playing field to benefit their corporate masters (while talking about, but not helping small business).
6. Real conservatives knew how to compromise for the good of the country and its citizens, while neocons consider compromise to be defeat -- it's their way or no way.
I think if some of the real conservatives of the past were to come back and look at today's Republican Party, they would be horrified. Conservative author, thinker and ex-congressman Mickey Edwards agrees. He says:
"The Republican Party that is in such disrepute today is not the party of Reagan. It is the party of Rush Limbaugh, of Ann Coulter, of Newt Gingrich, of George W. Bush, of Karl Rove. It is not a conservative party, it is a party built on the blind and narrow pursuit of power.
Over the last several years, conservatives have turned themselves inside out: They have come to worship small government and have turned their backs on limited government. They have turned to a politics of exclusion, division and nastiness. Today, they wonder what went wrong, why Americans have turned on them, why they lose, or barely win, even in places such as Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.
And, watching, I suspect Ronald Reagan is smacking himself on the forehead, rolling his eyes and wondering who in the world these clowns are who want so desperately to wrap themselves in his cloak."
Although I didn't agree with them (and still don't), I miss the real conservatives of the past.