isn’t a fundamental problem with what the party stands for, the problem is they don’t stand for what they used to.
Traditionally, the Republican Party was based on simple core beliefs, a small government, a strong defense (but with a mostly non- interventionist foreign policy) and personal freedoms.
The problems started in the 1970’s and 1980’s when the Reagan Republicans got into bed (not a pleasant thought) with the religious right (Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart , Pat Robertson etc.). When that happened, the GOP abandoned it’s traditional libertarian views of individual privacy and freedom. “Live and let live” became “live as I live”. Suddenly, the party that didn’t trust government to regulate itself wanted government to regulate how we live our lives.
Barry Goldwater, the adored leader of the GOP during the 50’s and 60’s (and the Godfather of Conservatism) thought this was a terrible mistake and a dangerous deviation from core republican doctrine. Goldwater even went so far to say at one point that “every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass”. No one was more conservative than Goldwater on defense or keeping government small and in check, but he rightly believed government had no business in religion and religion had no business in government or politics. Goldwater said if a woman decided to have an abortion it was no
business of government. He also supported gays in the armed forces, saying “you don’t have to be straight to be in the military, you just have to be able to shoot straight”.
My belief is that Americans are too independent a people to be told how to live their lives by anyone, not by their neighbors, not by their government and certainly not by a political party. They don’t mind getting sermonized in church, but they seem to be getting pretty tired of having their lifestyles criticized by a political party and they sure as Hell don’t want their lifestyles dictated by government at any level.
There is a lot of soul searching (pun intended) going in the Republican party right now. It’s my belief that if they get back to fundamentals, small government with lower taxes and a strong but non interventionist military, the GOP will always be a force to be reckoned with. But there is a wing of the party that wants to concentrate even more on morality and inject religion even more into future campaigns, moving the party more to the right on cultural
issues. If that happens…the Republicans will only succeed in marginalizing themselves, and giving the Democrats a free hand for years to come.