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The Republicans’ Cultural Revolution

Chairman Mao would be proud. Taking a page from his book, factions within the Republican Party appear poised to conduct their own Cultural Revolution, purging from the party anyone who doesn’t believe that Donald Trump and Sam Brownback were among our greatest leaders ever.

Democrats salivate at the prospects of Republicans imploding as a mainstream party and shifting their focus to radical, moralizing, knee-jerk positions clearly in a minority nationally and probably locally.

The latest target appears to be a Marion lawyer who was the last person to have represented the county’s 70th District in the legislature before the district was split into separate, gerrymandered add-ons dominated by out-of-county voters.

Already ousted as county chairman by one of the founders of the so-called Trumpettes, he now faces a challenge, orchestrated from outside his precinct, to his re-election even as a lowly precinct committeeman.

The challenge is coming from the same ideological faction responsible for the gerrymandering that chased him from the legislature in the first place. That same faction also has left us with a current legislative race in which competing candidates’ positions are essentially identical.

Our former legislator is hardly alone in having been abandoned by forces seeking Mao-like ideological purity within the party.

One of his immediate predecessors as 70th District legislator, a highly respected Republican authority on state budgeting from Goessel, now is actively campaigning for our Democratic governor.

The son of Burdick’s grand old lady of the Grand Old Party, one of our most respected former Republican U.S. senators, also has endorsed Democrats rather than toe the line of ideological purity that radical factions within the party insist upon.

Even his mother has come out with statements condemning some of the more wild-eyed fundamentalists the party now embraces.

Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, whose positions now seem to be rejected by the radical right, established for the party a tradition that was not just conservative but also progressive.

Whether you agree or disagree with attempts by radical Republicans to force their morality and values on others, it’s clear that following a path of reactionary ideological purity will end up transforming the party into a modern-day equivalent of the Federalists or Whigs.

Political parties need to be big tents, not private clubs. The only way a party representing minority views can secure national office will be by coup d’état.

Despite being a lifelong Republican who cares deeply about core values the party historically has represented, this writer is likely to face the same blacklisting, shunning, and purging as others who have dared to challenge radicals’ attempts to seize the party we have spent a lifetime supporting.

Now is the time for all good Republicans to come to the aid of their party — and especially those within it who don’t pass whatever ideological litmus tests might be imposed by moralizing, radical populists.

The simple truth is, these forces can’t be trusted to do what they claim they will do with such things as the unfettered power the legislature would receive over reproductive rights if “Value Them Both” passes.

They imply provision will be made for rape and to make those provisions unworkable. They strangely claim that abortion will become safer, conveniently forgetting that previous bans on abortion — which is precisely what they are seeking with “Value Them Both” — led to all manner of back-alley procedures.

Supporters of “Value Them Both” are right that judicial interference was wrong, but “Value Them Both” is a blank check, written to a legislature already purged of voices other than those who will swing the pendulum completely in the opposite direction.

As with many of the issues insisted upon by the radical right, the true intent of the proposed constitutional amendment is hidden behind language that seems less radical than what actually will happen. For people who consider themselves morally superior, that’s hypocrisy of the highest order.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified July 14, 2022

 

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