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GOP lost its way

To the Journal editor:

I was raised in a family of Republicans that goes back generations on both parents’ sides. The values and policies of the Grand Old Party made sense to my parents, my siblings, and to me as I grew up.

Not saddling future generations with debt from continued deficit budgets was a cornerstone, as was the benefit of free trade. A sense of social responsibility and concern for others was evident, coupled with a realism that providing equal opportunity to education and other basics is more effective than simply providing hand-outs.

But somewhere along the line, (in my opinion) the Republican Party changed before my eyes. The first big transformation was the Republican “Southern strategy” which turned the Party of Lincoln into a movement that sought to attract white voters in the South by appealing to racism. The second was the unquestioning acceptance of Grover Norquist’s views that all tax increases should be opposed as a matter of principle, coupled with abandoning the idea that government should only deliver what it can pay for. The third was initiated by the bare-knuckles, no-compromise politics of Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich, which gained popularity over the more collaborative approaches of leaders like Bob Dole.

And now, under Republican President Trump and a Republican Party that controls both houses of Congress, all the disappointing trends of the previous 50 years have been amplified (bigotry, deficit spending, refusal to compromise) and some new ones added.

Free trade has been made a bogeyman. “America First” is resulting in loss of American leadership in the world and respect from our allies and enemies alike. Basic democratic values, like appreciation for the role of the press and the independence of the judiciary, have been attacked. Compromise and civility are a distant memory. Increasingly, the GOP is defined by protectionism and anti-immigrant sentiment.

Some may say Trump is the problem. It is impossible to ignore the fact, however, that most of the Republican Party has remained silent in the face of (what is, in my opinion) his blatant bigotry, untruthfulness and mean-spiritedness. It has supported legislation that fits his views, and agreed with his executive actions. The Republican Party is complicit.

I still believe in the values of the Republican Party that were present when I became old enough to vote. Unfortunately, the Republican Party doesn’t believe in them anymore.

Tom Bronken

Marquette