Wavering Republicans

What, exactly, is it that the Republican party stands for these days?

I make no bones about the fact that I am a fairly liberal-minded person, but I mean that question in the most sincere way possible. I have managed to completely lose track of what my opposing party claims to stand for.

At one point I thought I had it basically figured out. They were the party of consistency. They wanted things to stay the same as they had always been. They were in favor of a strict interpretation of the constitution that would read it exactly the way the founding fathers had written it, rather than reinterpreting it for today’s climate. They were in favor of giving more power to the states than the federal government. They tried to keep government in general as small as possible.

While I naturally did not agree with most of these positions, I at least knew what they were. I knew what I was opposed to. It made sense.

It doesn’t make sense to me any more.

Somewhere along the line, I realized that I no longer had the slightest clue what the Republican party as a whole is now in favor of. Some remnants of their prior positions are still there, certainly, but a lot has changed recently and I know not exactly in what direction.

I have some hunches as to the path they have moved toward, but my thoughts seem overly cynical. I don’t wish to immediately assume the worst about the Republican party, even if I happen to largely disagree with them.

Still, the more I look at it, I can’t help but see a party that seems to be moving away from the people and toward the interests of big business. I can’t help but see party that is no longer concerned with keeping government small and has instead racked up trillions in debt and lead some of the largest governments in U.S. history. I can’t help myself from beginning to think of them as increasingly self-interested and money-minded.

I am curious as to whether my perception is skewed by the politicians running the party. Maybe they are the self-interested ones while typical Republicans remain more traditional in their conservative views. In a case like this, it’s somewhat hard to tell. I certainly hope that is the case.

Admittedly, the Democratic party could rightly be accused of being a little muddy itself these days, but they at least seem to be moving in a fairly clear, if overly broad, direction. While their individual policies and what the party as a whole stands for might be less clear than in the past, it’s still relatively safe to peg them as the party of the middle class, the party of change, and the party of modernization, among other things.

The Republicans’ seeming move toward the interests of big business disturbs me for a number of reasons. The simplest of these is that I disagree with this approach and think that the average people of this country should always come first. It’s already quite apparent that those with stacks of cash have far too much control over our government as it is, Democrats most definitely included, without having an entire party shift into becoming champions of the elite.

The other primary reason this change disturbs me is that I can’t help but feel unsettled by the undulations of a once clear competitor. Surely there must be other Democrats confused by the movements of their opposing party as well, just like me. Surely there must even be Republicans that are not entirely happy with the apparent drift of their own party away from the ideals they thought it upheld.

Such a change has wider implications as well. The small-government Republicans of old provided a healthy balance to the Democrats. As liberal as I may be, I’m still certainly not comfortable with the idea of the government pushing itself into every aspect of American life or spending itself into an irrecoverable debt, so having the Republicans on the other side was even somewhat comforting. I knew I could count on them to hold my own party back from going just a little too far.

We’ve now maxed out the national debt clock in New York. Our government is bigger than ever. Neither party seems completely willing or able to deal with either of these problems.

A political party has changed and a balance has been lost. I’m not sure where the Republicans have drifted to precisely, but I hope they can soon see past the appeal of the open wallets of the elite and the business class and return to the values they once upheld.

Who would have thought that, in the span of a relatively few short years, the anti-change party would become almost completely unrecognizable from its former self?

Go figure.

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