Arthur C. Schaper: RI GOP: Come Together

Friday, July 19, 2013


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In-party fighting, such as a famous scrap between Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft in 1912, only lead to more fracturing.

“Come together right now over me.” –John Lennon “Come Together

The Rhode Island Republican Party still seems sharply divided. Mark Smiley won the GOP chairmanship, and Dr. Daniel Harrop acquiesced, even though the final tally differed over one vote. There was talk of upsets, tumults, all the rest. That’s yesterday’s papers. Now, the Roosevelt Society has emerged to promote “big-tent” “center-right” politics in Rhode Island. They need to work with the GOP.

Now is the “right time” for all Rhode Islanders, Republicans, conservatives (and Conservative Democrats, I know you’re out there!), Moderates, and libertarians to “come together” and bring down the blighted anti-Democratic Hypermajority in Providence. Just as the Beatles’ signature hit “Come Together” joined the rival talents of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, so too the diverse elements of the Republican Party, and limited government advocates in general, can join their talents and take back Rhode Island.

The issues that divide the GOP, whether in Providence or in Washington, do not necessarily conquer, and often end up personal in nature, neither professional nor political. These divides are nothing new to the Republican Party. In fact, one of the hallmarks of the GOP is that division is allowed. Besides, healthy discussion and disagreement should not be discouraged. But when push comes to shove, when both sides agree on one voice and one set of core values, they get the votes and win. Dwight David Eisenhower did it in 1952. Nixon achieved what Goldwater seeded in 1968. Reagan brought together national, social, and fiscal conservatives (three different groups!) in 1980 and 1984. George Herbert Walker Bush pursued a restrained foreign policy following his widespread 1988 win against Michael “I oppose the death penalty” Dukakis. Despite the flawed voting tallies in Florida, George W. Bush won in 2000, and with a staunch stance against terrorism, carried the Presidency in 2004.

John McCain was an “also ran” with baggage in 2008. As for Mitt Romney in 2012, he could not unite, since on many issues he himself was not united. Playing to the center as Governor of Massachusetts, then running to the right during the Presidential primaries, then dashing back to the center for the general election, he was the most disunited, disingenuous Republican Presidential candidate in decades.

Yet there was a greater divide within the GOP long before those contests, one which led to a Democratic win, yet later followed by a conservative resurgence. The year was 1912, the same year Japan planted three thousand cherry trees in Washington D.C. as a sign of friendship; the same year that the RMS Titanic sank; and the same year that Republican-turned-Progressive Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt ran against close friend yet political opponent Republican Presidential incumbent William Howard Taft for the White House.

Their rift was political, not personal. At the time, the conservatives and progressives in the Republican Party differed over child-labor laws, the proper role of government in conservation, and the election (vs. Presidential appointment) of federal judges. Ironically enough, some of the “conservative” positions of 1912 would be consider liberal now (such as support for high tariffs) and progressive ideas then would be considered reactionary today (like not allowing women in the workforce). Regarding the popular election of federal judges, both liberals and conservatives have argued for this reform, which might end the endless filibusters against judicial appointments in the US Senate. Still, the divisions in 1912 were so wide that Roosevelt sought the Republican nomination in 1912, despite Taft’s decision to run again. When Taft won renomination, Roosevelt started his own “Bull Moose Party”. The contest between Taft and Roosevelt gave the Democratic candidate, New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson, the presidency.

Following inauguration, Wilson purged the White House of African-Americans, as he was a unrepentant racist. A Big Government anti-Catholic, he dismissed the United States Constitution. Despising the argument of The Federalist Papers, Wilson believed that the every man should marry his interests to the state, one governed by intellectuals and experts, as opposed to diverse interests with checks and balances. Despite his repeated pleas of pacifism, he brought the United States into the interminable European stalemate called “The Great War.” Claiming to make the world safe for democracy, Wilson jailed political dissidents at home, including the anti-war socialist Eugene V. Debs. To this day, the anti-Democratic history of “Democratic” President Woodrow Wilson has not received proper vetting.

In 1920, Americans craved a return to “normalcy”, i. e. liberty. Republican President Warren G. Harding (the first US Senator to endorse an “anti-lynching law” to protect African-Americans) ended foreign interventions, cut spending, lowered taxes, assisted veterans, and turned a post-war recession into a roaring recovery. He also pardoned Eugene V. Debs. In 2013, Rhode Island Republicans can “come together” against the anti-Democratic hypermajority in Providence, one which acts as “God on Earth”, which impoverishes everyone, stifling dissent and limited government with respect to the individual citizen. The Roosevelt Society must join with the RI GOP (Mark Smiley is better than Taft, I am certain!) and defeat the anti-Democratic hypermajority. If the Beatles could work things out, so can the Rhode Island Republicans.


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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