By Robert Sisson
My good friend, Mike Stafford, formerly a Republican state party official in Delaware, has renounced his membership in the GOP. It was a newsworthy moment because Mike has been front-and-center in the fight to restore the party to its traditional values. This week, he walked out of the Big Tent. One can imagine the derisive shouts from a far corner of the party, "Don't let the flaps hit you on the way out."
As president of ConservAmerica, the national organization dedicated to making conservation a priority once more in Republican circles, I, too, have had the nauseating feeling that I'm swimming against a current filled with jetsam cast overboard by pirates. Yet, I remain firmly committed and in the party.
On a daily basis, in our office we receive kind notes from people across our country. Some say, "Thank God for ConservAmerica—it is the only thing keeping me in the party." Others say, "I didn't leave the party, it left me."
I remain in the Republican Party because I believe in its five basic principles.
First, the best government is one closest to the people, and government should only do for the people those things that cannot be done by individuals. As a city commissioner, I can vouch that local elected officials are held to a much higher level of accountability than federal or even state office holders. Only at the local level can voters show up on their representative's doorstep to petition for help or point out the errors of one's ways.
This principle also gives Republicans the green light to act on environmental issues. As an individual, I can't stop the big coal plant up wind of me from spewing mercury, soot, and other toxins into the air my family breathes. Good government can.
Second, is the belief that the free enterprise system and the encouragement of individual initiative give us an economic system second to none. This principle should lead us to the elimination all government incentives and tax preferences for special interest industries, since those incentives skew the free enterprise system and retard individual initiative.
Third, we believe in equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. Republicans led the way to the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed equal rights for all. The GOP played an important role in women's suffrage and in passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. I want equal opportunity. What I do with it is up to me.
Fourth, we believe in preserving principles and customs worth saving, but that we must be receptive to new ideas with an outlook broad enough to accommodate thoughtful change and varying points of view. This principle means that when 98 percent of climate scientists say we have a problem, we'll work to solve or mitigate it. It's also the big tent clause that acknowledges there is room in it for people with whom we disagree.
The fifth and final principle of the party is pride in our nation and our desire to share freedom, peace, and the extension of human rights throughout the world. This principle means we may have to spend some tax dollars to aid and assist like-minded people around the globe. It is the embodiment of the Commandment to love thy neighbor as yourself.
No, the Republican Party didn't leave Mike Stafford or me. Yes, party crashers have bribed the band to play martial music and they're dancing the goose step on the portable parquet. Like all party crashers, though, the hosts will wise up sooner than later, and show the interlopers the big tent's flaps.
© Copyright 2012 Robert Sisson, licensed to The Lewisville Texan Journal.
Rob Sisson is president of ConservAmerica, a national grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the GOP's great conservation tradition. Robert can be reached at email@example.com.
This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.