from DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons https://goo.gl/b5OrKa

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr Creative Commons https://goo.gl/b5OrKa

With our President insulting anyone getting better TV coverage, cutting deals with the opposing party rather than use his majority power, and Kim Jong Un’s aggression taking more significance than with previous presidents…. it seems fair to ask, exactly what and who is a Republican in 2017?

For the first 9 months, it’s been enough for many to experience Republican values as simple trolling of democrats.   Dem tears = GOP beers.

Is this still true if Trump starts dividing up the GOP and Democrats in his own image?   I’m not sure.

I don’t know what the answer is, so I thought I’d seek some outside input.

Before asking for your help, let me start with a couple of thoughts and end with telling you what Republicanism means to me.

First all red state commentators subscribe to the ‘one rule‘, defined as:

 

The Republican Party is proud to stand up for the rights of the unborn and believe all Americans have an unalienable right to life as stated in The Declaration of Independence; Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend healthcare coverage to children before birth. Republicans have also passed laws for informed consent, mandatory-waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. Thanks to Republican legislative initiatives, there has been a tremendous increase in adoptions.

As someone who first took Communion quite a while ago, I didn’t have to know about this to recognize the value here.   As someone who also first experienced Republicanism via Ronald Reagan, I wanted to get to something larger, simpler and yet more brilliant.   The GOP has long been a “big tent”…  at some level Trump is proof.  The tent was so big some guy brought his own circus.

Assuming that GOP continues in some form beyond Trump, what is most likely to be retained?   What are the core aspects of the GOP that couldn’t be killed no matter how RINO-y the leader?   Or is Trump merely proof that parties have no real shared values, they merely exist as empty vehicles that can be driven by whoever is loaned the keys?

If only for entertainment purposes, I’m going to stick with the idea that any “show” worth watching for a long time has some sort of “through-line” you can sense from the beginning and even as the circumstances and characters change, keeps you tuning in.   What are some possible through-lines that are so deep their value will survive “the deep state”?

 

“What does it all mean?”

We can all look up ‘republican government’ in the dictionary if we wish to re-touch on the original, literal meaning.   We may also remember pledging allegiance to the republic:

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

To me and many Republicans I know, the primary difference between our Republican government and a Democratic government is the priority of individual liberties vs the priorities of the group.  The interpretation by anyone who errs towards blind loyalty to current office holder is to assume that his or her interpretation is most likely correct irrespective of decency towards other’s individual liberties.

I personally do not believe that our 2017 President has much of a through-line at all (other than perhaps that most family businesses die slow deaths after N-generations).   Rather I’d prefer to spend my free time thinking about what Republican-ism should be- or could be- especially if we’re witnessing a giant values pruning operation in real-time.

For me, besides liking Reagan speeches, hearing Steve Forbes talk about a ‘Flat Tax’, there is really one thing that made me want to be a Republican.   Alex P. Keaton.

“Who is your Republican Ideal?”

When I was a kid, there was nobody who spoke to my intellect, emotions and self-desires more than the eldest brother of the Keaton Family Ties.   He was smart, he was good looking, he understood the value of money in society, he wasn’t afraid of a good argument, and he generally cared about people.   They didn’t always return the favor, but more often they did.

 

While he is not perfect- he had weakness both for Richard Nixon as a role model not to mention beautiful liberal arts majors- I would propose that Alex P Keaton is even decades later a pretty good representative for the values of the Republican party that I know.

I don’t know the answer to the question… What is a republican in 2017?   I do know that if you’re going to take advantage of some liberal hippies, Alex is forever my guide.

If you have thoughts on the most lasting and important elements of Republicanism for you personally, I’d be interested to read your thoughts.