The Bob Dole Test: A Question For Republicans – Party Or Ethics?

Over the weekend, former Republican Senator Bob Dole gave an assessment of his party, saying the GOP should hang a “closed for repairs” sign. At one time Dole represented the reasonable mainstream of the Republican Party. Not 20 years have passed, but the modern Republican Party is unrecognizable.

Mr. Dole was also the party’s presidential candidate in 1996, touting crazy ideas he supported throughout the years like the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, you know, the same act the modern-day Republican Party would likely defeat. Hell, Dole even supported ruthlessly liberal ideas like clean drinking water, protecting endangered species, and environmental conservation. As featured on The Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday night, the 1996 Dole/Kemp campaign website still exists and outlines the former candidate’s presidential platform.

Senator Bob Dole - photo by LCCR & LCCREF

So a former Republican stalwart offers his blunt evaluation of the Republican Party, saying even Ronald Reagan likely wouldn’t survive the modern GOP, and it’s just accepted as the way things are. Nobody really questions how or why. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles I guess. But why do so many reasonable and moderate conservatives keep voting for increasingly extreme Republican candidates? This is a question I’ve pondered for many years, and unfortunately I’ve yet to find a satisfying answer.

So I have a question for Republicans — scratch that — for conservatives who see themselves as moderates: Do you stand for your party or do you stand for your ethics?

If you voted for Bob Dole in 1996 are you really sticking to your convictions when you vote for a modern-day Republican Party candidate? If you believed Dole or other moderate Republicans of his day best represented your ethics, your beliefs, and your values, how is it possible to think the same of contemporary Republicans?

The Republican Party has radically shifted off its axis, and in a remarkably short time. Gone are the intrepid but sensible Republicans who believed in the idea of compromise to do the work of the people. In their place is a ragtag group of right-wing hacks. These ideologues, elected from red states and/or gerrymandered districts, compete with one another in a contest for loudest and most obnoxious horse’s ass. They are not concerned with consensus of the many. Their only burden is to appease the narrow worldview of the few.

Do you adhere to a code of ethics, an inner sense of what is right and wrong? Or are your core beliefs elastic, expanding to fit the current shape of the Republican Party? I’m not talking about having rigid ideological beliefs. I’m simply asking, do you formulate your own opinion on what is the right or wrong policy, or do you simply migrate your position lock step with your party?

If you are a moderate conservative and you dismiss the notion that the Republican Party has become an obstructionist, tunnel-visioned mutation of a party, then I’m afraid you are voting for your party and not your ethics.

photo by LCCR & LCCREF

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