In 1964, when the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater for president, the Chad Mitchell Trio released a song describing (somewhat cryptically) the Republican Party. Here are a few words:
[Let’s go] back to the solid silver standard Goldwater…
Let’s go back to the time when men were men
and start the First World War again
[Let’s go] when the poor were poor and the rich were rich
and you felt so safe just knowing which were which!
Alright, that was a bit “on top” but, nevertheless, he stressed that at the national level, the Republican Party was not the Party of change. The themes of: “Let’s keep it as it is, or better yet, ‘get back’ to what we used to be”– were as Republicans then as they are today. It is the Democratic Party, at least since FDR and the Great Depression, that has been the party of change in Washington.
For example, the recent move to one house, without Republican support, of the Biden “Build back better” legislation. Although not having received a significant mandate in the last elections and, although controlling Congress only through the “The skin of their teeth”, The Democrats got this through the House of Representatives. It shouldn’t have been surprising that a fellow Democrat Joe Manchin, a senator from a conservative state like West Virginia, had trouble with the bill, but they passed it in the House anyway.
The politics going on here should come as no surprise. “Radical ideas” like social security and medicare (financial assistance and health care for the elderly) were democratic initiatives. There were cries at the time that such programs would bankrupt the country and lead us to socialism. Although at this time there were a few Republican votes for these programs – it was the Democratic Party that proposed and largely provided the bulk of the “Yes” votes to make them law.
Yet Republicans have correctly assessed the reality that our country’s electorate is generally conservative in their thinking, and when people want change, it happens gradually and very slowly. Harry Truman in the 1950s and Ted Kennedy in the 1980s were unable to push health care legislation forward. It was not until 30 years later, under Barack Obama, that the issue was really addressed in any meaningful way. Today as “Obamacare” has become more accepted in the country, you see (like with Social Security and Medicare) fewer Republicans attacking it.
Another reality is that whenever Democrats push for social change, they usually suffer in the next election … and so it doesn’t bode well for them in the 2022 election. I would expect the year ahead will be a good year for Republicans.
I will say this however for the Democrats, when they try to create new programs they are at least honest enough to include tax and tax measures to help pay for them, as evidenced by this latest bill where they proposed to raise taxes for billionaires and corporations. . The Republican reaction to it all was again “hit the drum” that democrats are the “Tax and spend” Party. Democrats retort that Republicans have become the “Borrow and spend” Party.
Although they still maintain the policy “Heights” to be resistant to change, when it comes to spending money – Republicans have shown themselves to be as good as Democrats. And who was the last president to have a balanced budget? It was Bill Clinton. His political affiliation? Let’s not go into that.
Divergent views on politics remain as American as apple pie. Everyone, whatever your political orientation, thank you for reading these articles and happy new year!
Rolland Kidder is a resident of Stow.