Beinstein column: Why the GOP is not hopelessly prejudicial
Turn on many left-wing media outlets and it might appear the GOP is forever doomed as a party that only represents bigoted and closed-minded people. Look deeper, and you might find more light than your eyes can handle.
The modern-day Republican Party is labeled racist. And yet, after learning that former Majority Leader Trent Lott expressed segregationist sympathies, former President George W. Bush engineered his removal from leadership.
Many think Republicans want women only relegated to the kitchen and having babies. And yet it was Ronald Reagan who fulfilled a campaign pledge by nominating the first-ever woman to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor.
Many point to a recent surge in anti-Semitism. And yet it was President Theodore Roosevelt who nominated the first ever Jewish U.S. Cabinet Secretary, Oscar Straus. And it was Franklin Roosevelt’s conservative counterpart in England, Winston Churchill (a honorary U.S. Citizen), who pushed much harder for the state of Israel than Roosevelt ever did.
Some say that Native Americans are more invisible now than they’ve ever been. And yet it was Ulysses S. Grant and the post-Civil War GOP that reached out to Native Americans and installed them in record numbers of government positions.
Many express hostility about “the wall.” And yet the first ever Hispanic to serve in a U.S. Cabinet was Lauro Cavazos under both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Everyday it seems as if there is a new story picking on China and/or Chinese people. And yet it was President Richard Nixon who believed that, if ever given a decent government to live under, the Chinese people could flourish as beautifully as any other people, if not more so.
And to Donald Trump’s credit, he made his UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, the first ever Indian-American cabinet official. Trump, it should also be noted, has made Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews feel particularly welcomed, by moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The list can go on and on. The point is that many people these days feel particularly alienated from a Republican Party that they believe gives off the impression that it’s meant for white European men only. The truth is that is not the history of the Republican Party; in fact its history is the complete opposite. Abraham Lincoln brought the GOP into existence to make true of the claim that “all men” are indeed “created equal.”
Both our own founding documents, and Judeo-Christian heritage, therefore demand that we continue to deepen our commitments to equality and liberty. The Democratic Party was founded upon this principle. And Lincoln added to it, by creating a party that applied those same constitutional rights and liberties to blacks.
And for us Republicans, it is our duty to further expand that heritage to the people most invisible in our times —East Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, etc. While fighting this fight, the GOP should still be a haven for those other timeless principles, providing opportunity through good schools and infrastructure, offering people a large degree of economic freedom, limiting government debt, keeping the peace through strength, fighting for freedom abroad, and standing up for individual freedom here at home.
But it should never forget its identity as a haven for all strivers and doers, regardless of race. To do so would be the equivalent of a Jew ignoring the Torah or a Christian dismissing the words of Christ. Racial inclusion goes to the heart of what it means to be a true Republican.
Alex Beinstein is a millennial who writes from Carbondale and grew up in Aspen. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.
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