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What Does ‘Republican’ Really Mean?

President Trump’s attempt to thwart the election by denying the validity of the vote in the electoral college and then inciting a mob to attack the Capitol, has split the Republican Party. In a vote this week in the House of Representatives ten Republicans joined Democrats to impeach Donald Trump for the second time.

One of the President’s most ardent supporters had been Representative Chip Roy of Texas, but he didn’t buy into the idea of challenging the Electoral College. Roy took the position that if President Trump believed that the election had been “rigged” in six battleground states, then the election of Congressmen from those states was also probably invalid–so he challenged the seating of 67 House members from those states in the House of Representatives.

He did not prevail in that effort, but his statement on the whole matter is worth quoting: “The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not. Accordingly, our path forward is also clear. We must respect the states’ authority here. Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to the promote the Constitution above our policy goals.”

Our own Congressman, Tom Reed (though not voting for impeachment,) cited similar constitutional concerns in joining Chip Roy and other Republicans in accepting the results of the Electoral College.

What the recent fracas in the Electoral College vote counting and the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol shows is that the Republican Party is split. A day of reckoning has come as to what it means to be a Republican.

Congressman Reed, according to a press report, talked about a “New Republican Party.” My own view is that the solutions for the Republican Party are likely to be found in returning to some core principles–rather than in continuing its infatuation with a personality like Donald Trump and following the politics of division.

I was raised as a Republican and am somewhat of a “black sheep” in our family, having changed my political registration to Democrat in the 1960’s.

Yet, I still have fond memories of my father’s exemplary involvement in politics when he served as the Republican Supervisor of the Town of Kiantone. He didn’t view public service as a blood sport of some kind, but as an obligation of citizenship. I can still remember the day that he lost an election to a neighboring farmer, Frank Bratt, a Democrat.

My Dad was disappointed but his comment was: “Well, the people have spoken and I know that Frank will do a good job. I will get the books and Town records that he needs over to him so that he can prepare for the job.”

My father stood in a long tradition of what I would call “small government/pro-business” Republicans. Yet, he was not afraid of having government assert itself when there was a public need. He also kept his religious views distinctly separated from his duties in government. He was a big supporter of the doctrine of “separation of Church and state.”

Somewhere, I think, in these old, traditional ideas is where the Republican Party needs to go. How it gets there is going to be difficult–but the process has started.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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