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Ed Beckenbach: Don’t leave the GOP; fix it

Ronald Reagan came from a working-class background and supported the Democratic Party as the party looking out for the blue-collar working man. However, he found as time went by that his ideals of individual freedom, lower taxes and limited government were counter to the direction the Democratic Party was taking with its strongly progressive/socialistic program that would make the individual more and more dependent on the largesse of the powers in Washington, D.C., funded by ever-higher taxes.

This eventually led to his change of parties, support of Eisenhower for the presidency in 1952, and in 1962 his statement that “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.”

Today the shoe is on the other foot. In the weeks and months following the 2020 election, I consoled myself thinking that the numbers I was hearing must be wrong. So many people could not possibly believe, against all evidence, that Joe Biden had not been legitimately elected president.



Then came Jan. 6, 2021. Activities that day at the Capitol ran so counter to everything this country has held dear for over 240 years that it would be blasphemy to name it.

I have been a conservative and a registered Republican (not necessarily the same thing) all my adult life. My first political memory is one of sadness at being one year too young to vote for Ike in 1956.




I have believed that the Republican Party stood for limited government, separation of powers, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Similarly, I have believed that they stood firmly against all forms of bigotry, racism, ethnic and sexual prejudice, and religious intolerance.

I have also believed that Republicans believe in healthy and vigorous debate. The opportunity to present opposing opinions in open forum with the hope and belief that logic and the facts would persuade others to adopt our positions.

It appears that the Republican Party now largely consists of people who give such principles and beliefs short shrift. However, Cheryl Cook’s Other Voices column (“Under the Gaze of Lincoln,” Aug.10) gives me hope in a new number — that there are millions of Republicans who still require that those for whom we vote be decent human beings.

Of course, I voted for Donald Trump in 2016. To my mind there was not a single member of congressional leadership of either party who cared a whit about anything but reelection. There truly was a swamp that needed draining. We needed a person of impeccable morality successful in running large non-political organizations.

My actual choice was Mitt Romney. Unfortunately, he was not a good campaigner. Mitt Romney is still my choice, but I must admit that I don’t know how to get there from here.

Equally of course, I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2020. Nor will I in the future. Do you think I learned nothing in four years? Living in California, it doesn’t really matter for whom I cast my vote for president, but down ticket my vote will certainly be swayed by a candidate’s support or lack of support for Trump, and vice versa.

By the way, I also did not vote for Joe Biden. Though I believe he passes the morality test, like Reagan, I cannot accept the Democratic platform of progressive/socialistic big government.

So what now? I sincerely am undecided. With Ronnie as my guide, my first inclination was to no longer register as a Republican. But I think that’s kind of a cop out. I believe in political parties. I believe in committing to a platform of coordinated programs based on a foundation of ethics and constitutionality that a group of people, the party, believes best embodies a government of, by, and for, the people.

The Republican platform is broken, but it is probably best fixed from within. I don’t know how or when, but I believe it can and will be fixed if enough of us are just willing to try.

I also believe that a renewed Republican Party, firmly based on the principles it once held sacred, will be critical if we are to return our country, as President Bush asked at the Shanksville, Pa., Memorial on 9/11 to “the America I remember.”

Ed Beckenbach lives in North San Juan.


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