Why is it that even for a die-hard admirer of the Republican Party, [it is] increasingly difficult to find anything good in the Grand Old Party? An elegy of a bitter voter.
There are no party memberships in the United States in the German sense — but after becoming an American citizen, I did register as a Republican on election lists, primarily because of the party’s history: The Republicans were founded in 1854 in the north of the country by former members of the American Whig Party, who, like their British cousins, were liberal in a classical sense.
And another reason is because they opposed the inhumane policy of Democratic President Andrew Jackson against the Native Americans. But I added another point to the Republicans, for their staunch opposition of slavery. Therefore, the Republicans were the party of freedom and civil rights — and the party of perhaps the greatest of all American presidents, Abraham Lincoln.
The 19th century Democrats, however, were [proponents of] the status quo and [represented] pure racism. During the Civil War, their slogan was, “The Constitution as it is; the Union as it was; and the Negroes where they are.” When Lincoln announced the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, the Democrats responded with violent revulsion — they called the Republicans fanatics, and said they encouraged “2 or 3 million semi-savages to overrun the North in order to mix their sons and daughters.”*
Newspapers that were close to the Democratic Party asked readers in thick black headlines: “Should the working class compete with Negroes?” The Ku Klux Klan was basically nothing more than the armed wing of the Democrats. The two main achievements of the Republican Party were against [slavery]: the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in which slavery was abolished, and the 14th Amendment, which declared all people born on the territory of the United States to be U.S. citizens, regardless of their origin.
The exception to this was originally the Native Americans, who even today are considered members of their own sovereign nations. They were given full American citizenship only in 1924 through a law that had been introduced by Republican Congressman Homer P. Snyder and was signed by Republican President Calvin Coolidge. Naturally, it was also a Republican, Ulysses S. Grant, who as president at the end of the 19th century, opened the gates for refugees from Russia and Eastern Europe (especially to Jews who fled poverty and pogroms of the Old World). My wife’s family came to the country at that time.
Republicans Fought Apartheid
How did the party look in the 20th century? A Republican president, namely Dwight D. Eisenhower, sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas at the end of the ‘50s, so that nine black schoolchildren could go to a previously purely white high school. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which abolished the abhorrent apartheid laws in the Southern states, was adopted by a significant vote by more Republicans than Democratic congressmen. Incidentally, the right to vote for women was at the outset a matter of the heart for Republicans, while the Democrats fought it bitterly to the end.
Certainly, the Republicans who began under Richard Nixon were those disappointed young voters who turned away from the Democratic Party because it had slipped too far to the left during the Vietnam War. But that does not mean that the two parties have swapped places in terms of civil rights. Take the often-chided George W. Bush — the man is all sorts of things, but he is not a racist. On the contrary, as president, he passed many reforms to make life easier for illegal immigrants from Mexico. And he’s not Islamophobic, not even a little bit. The war on terror should not be understood as a war against Islam, but as a war of liberation to wrest the Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq from the violence of sinister tyrants. The first thing George W. Bush did after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 was visit a mosque.
However, this attitude would barely be a majority in the Republican Party of today. Of Republicans, 88 percent (and only 44 percent of Democrats) find that there are too many immigrants choosing America. Islamophobic madness runs wild. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said a Muslim must never become an American head of government. And more and more Republicans speak bluntly: It’s not just about illegal immigrants to them. They are concerned about immigrants in general.
Fear of the Future
The controversial conservative columnist Ann Coulter expresses this sentiment in her pamphlet, “Adios, America,” which is subtitled, “How the Left is trying to Transform the United States into a Third World Hell.” In a nutshell, she writes how immigrants from the Latin American countries would change the culture of the United States beyond recognition.
Only nations led by Anglo-Saxon Protestants and Ashkenazi Jews could be economically successful in the long run. Today, many Republicans are afraid of the future, of demographic change. They conjure up a “good old time” that never existed in reality, and anticipate that American values would be hopelessly inundated by Mexicans, who flock to the country in the hundreds of thousands. Objectively, this fear is based on nothing at all.
First, no Mexicans are flocking to the country at the moment. Second, studies show that the immigrants of today Americanize even faster than Germans, Italians, Chinese, Irish, and [faster than] the people who came before them. They obediently learn English, are ill less frequently, and end up less frequently in prison than the native-born.
Incidentally, if Republicans [continue] to be the party of old, white rich men, it is political suicide in the long run. If I leaned on conspiracy theories, I would strongly suspect that such ideological cheerleaders like Ann Coulter are secretly on the payroll of the Democrats.
Actually, I’d like to give the Republican candidates my voice in the next election. I think Barack Obama’s foreign policy is catastrophic, and I think that after two terms with a Democrat sitting in the White House, it’s time for a change. But it bothers me enormously that at the start of the 21st century Republicans resemble the Democrats of the 19th century more and more. Could the cosmic forces please ensure that my party quickly remembers Abraham Lincoln? Or do I have to take the other steamboat yet again?
*Editor’s note: The original quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.