President Obama invoked the name of Theodore Roosevelt at a fundraiser Friday in Burlington, Vermont, saying, “previous Republican presidents wouldn’t recognize today’s GOP”. Actually, Teddy Roosevelt would feel right at home in today’s Republican Party, being the second RINO to win the Presidency and providing the model for RINOs of the future. After the 1892 election, when the People’s Party gained major victories in American politics, carrying five states in the general election and winning numerous state and local contests nationwide, both the Democrat and Republican Parties embraced a number of socialist-populist ideas from the People’s Party platform .
Republican William McKinley won the 1896 Presidential election over Democratic candidate, William Jennings Bryan. However, McKinley’s Vice President, Garret Hobart, died of a heart ailment in 1899 and he chose Theodore Roosevelt, the recently elected Governor of New York, as his running mate in 1900. The McKinley-Roosevelt ticket won the 1900 election, again defeating the Democrat, Bryan in a landslide. Just six months after taking office for his second term, McKinley died as the result of an assassin’s bullet on September 14, 1901. He had been shot a few days before while attending the Pan-American Exposition at Buffalo, New York.
Roosevelt finished the remainder of McKinley’s term and ran for and won reelection in 1904. Roosevelt was a popular President, partly because of the hero status he had gained by his prior exploits in Cuba, leading a Calvary regiment, the “Rough Riders”, during the Spanish-American War, and partly because of his enthusiastic support for the populist-socialist policies that were in vogue at the time. Roosevelt chose not to run for another term in 1908 and his handpicked successor, William Howard Taft, easily won the election of 1908.
Roosevelt soon became dissatisfied with the more moderate progressive policies of Taft and determined to run against him in 1912. Failing to gain the support of the Republican Convention for his candidacy, Roosevelt withdrew from the party and ran on the Progressive Party ticket, a party he formed after being rejected by the Republicans. All four parties in the 1912 election ran progressive candidates, Taft on the Republican ticket, Roosevelt on the Progressive ticket, Wilson on the Democrat ticket and Debs on the Socialist ticket. Taft and Roosevelt split the Republican vote, giving the Presidency to Wood Wilson.
Two of the four progressive era Amendments to the Constitution were ratified by the states during Wilson’s first year in office; the Sixteenth Amendment, authorizing Congress to levy a graduated income tax, first proposed by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto in 1848, paving the way for the realization of the long-term socialist goal– the redistribution of income; and the Seventeenth Amendment requiring that Senators of each state be elected by popular vote, rather than by the State Legislature. This Amendment reversed a decision that was thoroughly debated and decided by the Framers during the Philadelphia Convention. The Seventeenth Amendments fulfilled the progressive-socialist goal of a more direct democracy, while at the same time, setting the stage for the future disregarding of the Tenth Amendment by Congress.
The progressive Republican Presidents at the turn of the twentieth century established the pattern for the RINOs of the future and would feel right at home in the Republican Party of today. Most Republicans have a difficult time identifying the RINOs among them because they consistently confuse the words Republican and republicanism. Republican is the name of the political party. Its primary goal is to win elections and protect the incumbency of its elected officials. Republicanism refers to the philosophy of governing espoused by the Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution.
Republicanism differs markedly from democracy. Democracy refers to the rule of the majority and is easily manipulated by demagogues and charlatans. Democratic governance was both despised and feared by the Founding Fathers and the Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The word “democracy” appears nowhere in our Founding Documents and was only used during the debates at the Philadelphia Convention in a derogatory sense. Republicanism refers to a government composed of representatives chosen by the people, accountable to the people, and operating under the rule of law. In America, the Constitution is the “Supreme Law of the Land” and all laws incompatible with it are illegitimate. All elected or appointed officials in the U.S. are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.
The word RINO is an acronym for “Republican In Name Only” and is used to denote those elected officials who run on the Republican Ticket but once in office reject the principles of republicanism. Their role in the political system for the past hundred years has been to act as enablers of the addiction to socialism, endemic in the Democratic Party. The RINOs of the early progressive era would be quite comfortable in the modern Republican Party of today, which seems to be dominated by RINOs at the upper levels of the Party establishment.
Obama got this one wrong, as he usually does. However, he does inadvertently depart from his customary litany of falsehoods and swerve into an obvious truth now and then. He did so at another fundraiser in Portland, Oregon on the same day, when he said, “You know, the idea you would keep on doing the same thing over and over again, even though it’s been proven not to work — that’s a sign of madness”. If you are surprised by Obama’s candor in describing the socialist policies of the Democratic Party, or his sudden insight into his own mental processes, just remember the old adage “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”