The shameless behavior of the “Republicans” in the recently concluded 78th session of the Nevada Legislature — their vote for the biggest tax and budget hike in the State’s history being first and foremost among their record of mis- and nonfeasance — and the angry reaction to it by the State Party and the loyal Republican rank-and-file, raise an important question.

What is a Republican? What does it mean to be a Republican? If the RINOs and conservatives are both “Republicans,” then the term badly needs to be defined.

The GOP started out as the abolition party. We were for freedom and constitutional rights for everybody. The Democrats were for holding blacks in slavery. This division provoked the Civil War, which resolved the issue not by reason but by force. Unfortunately, it also had the side-effect of resolving another issue not by reason but by force: States’ rights vs. the power of the federal government. Good bye, 9th and 10th Amendments, hello “due process,” the authority to do anything you want as long as you have a “due” process in place to do it. The long Republican era after that war ushered in the era of big government, but nobody minded because it was also the era of Manifest Destiny fulfilled, and rugged individualism getting its day in the Winning of the West. Nobody minded the political realignment with the Republicans as the party of big everything, the Democrats as the party of the KKK and the “little” people — and both as the party of progressivism. It wasn’t long before the socialists took over the Democrat party, but in the Roaring Twenties nobody cared about that either. By the time the Republicans could and should have cared, the Democrats became the party of the New Deal, and the die was cast for the next 40-50 years.

Beginning in the 1970s, Reagan called for, and we eventually got, another political realignment. The Republicans became more and more purely conservative, and the Democrats became more and more openly, more rabidly marxist. Talk about a house divided…

Today it is the GOP that is a house divided. There is no other way to say it. On the one hand we have the “establishment” that seems to have no other ideology but power and money. On the other hand we have a mix of TEA Party, religious fundamentalist, constitutional originalist and libertarian elements. These two camps are incompatible. The establishment and the Democrats agree on one thing: government money and power is to be put in service of special interests, not the general welfare as envisioned by the Founders. If government has both money and power, it might as well be put to good use to serve me, right? Democrats and RINOs may differ on who should benefit more, but as long as they agree on dividing the loot, they have the basis for “reaching across the aisle,” to “come together for the common good,” to “compromise,” etc. In the 0bama years we’ve seen this scenario play out repeatedly both at the State and federal level in the form of this new ruling majority, this unholy alliance between RINOs and Democrats. And in election after election the de-educated, low-information sheeple are nodding in agreement with whoever promises them the most freebies.

So what’s a “Republican”?

  • We can’t be the party of both high and low taxes.
  • We can’t be the party of both big and small government.
  • We can’t be the party of both big expensive social programs and of limited, focused help of the needy.
  • We can’t be the party of both collectivists and individualists.
  • We can’t be the party of both atheists and religious people, of both hedonists and moral people.
  • We can’t be the party of both globalism and nationalism, interventionism and isolationism, open and closed borders, unlimited illegal and limited legal immigration, “fair” and free trade, regulated and free market, etc.
  • We can’t be the party of both unlimited surveillance in the name of national security and of due respect for our individual constitutional rights.
  • We can’t be the party of both multiculturalism and of a clear, unique identity as Americans.
  • We can’t be the party of both politicians and statesmen; of both unprincipled politicians and statesmen with unimpeachable integrity.
  • We can’t be the party of both power-mad bureaucrats and honest public servants.
  • We can’t be the party of both Hoover and Reagan, of both Teddy R. and Coolidge, any more than the Democrats can be the party of both Jefferson and Marx, of both Jackson and 0bama.
  • We can’t be the party of both fat cats hiding in the shadows, pulling invisible strings, and the party of the little people who put themselves out there in the open, volunteering in the office, manning the phone banks, stuffing the envelopes, walking the precincts, writing the letters — and voting.
  • We can’t be the party of pragmatists who by definition believe in nothing and therefore fall for anything, and the party of “ideologues” who act on well-informed principle, not a whim of the moment.
  • And in this upcoming election season, we will be either the party of Brian Sandoval or Scott Walker, of Bush or Rubio, of John Boehner or Tom McClintock, but not both.

Did I leave out anything? You get the idea. A house divided cannot stand. Something has to give. Something will give.

I came to the US and I came to live here in Nevada because ideas mean something, or at least they used to, and ideas have consequences, as we are always finding out. I’m old and tired, and I gave up practically all of my positions in the Party. But I’ll be damned if I blink first or just fade away. In the meantime, I still need your answers to the question, What Is A Republican?

You know it’s not a trivial question, not when it’s coming from me, the chairman of the committee that wrote the Carson City Republican Platform of 2014.

See also: 9. Time to revisit The Speech — “A Time For Choosing”