OPINION

Opinion: Republicans go one way, George Will and I go another

George Will in a 2008 file photo.

George Will in a 2008 file photo.  (ap)

George Will is a nationally syndicated Washington Post political columnist. He is one of the reasons I started writing. I appreciate his work as I did William F. Buckley’s work. I have worked hard to be the Hispanic Will or Buckley. I will keep trying.

Will has left the Republican Party by switching his registration to “unaffiliated.” He joined the party in 1964; he wanted to be part of conservative Barry Goldwater’s  presidential campaign of 1964. He leaves because Donald J. Trump is the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee who Will does not believe is conservative.

Like the day after the 1964 rout of Barry Goldwater, I will join others to pick up the pieces of my party, the party of Abraham Lincoln and help put together a Phoenix-like rise of a new energetic and principled Trumpless Republican Party that will re-take the Presidency in 2020.    

- Raoul Lowery Contreras

I enrolled in the Republican Party in January of 1962 when I registered on my 21st birthday. Like him, I was a Goldwater man. I met Arizona U. S. Senator Goldwater at the University of Oregon at a conference. We met at a coffee machine; we were alone, enabling me to talk with my idol like few people ever have a chance to talk with a potential president. He was a senator from Arizona then — me, I was just a college student.

I “loved” Barry Goldwater. I did until he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That vote crushed me. How could any member of the Party of Lincoln vote against civil rights? 600,000 Americans had died over civil rights exactly 100 years before. I was devastated by his vote.

Mississippi was burning. Two whites and a black civil rights workers were murdered with the case not closed until June of 2016. Black people were being beaten and killed. Republican Senators Everett Dirksen (IL) and (my 1962 boss) California’s Thomas Kuchel co-sponsored a civil rights bill with two Democrats that Southern Democrats filibustered for 57 days.  

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The murders troubled me. My treatment in Texas as a young boy because of – as Donald Trump would say – my "Mexican Heritage" added to my concern. So did segregated schools in Texas where children were forced to attend because they looked like me.

Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights bill, he and five other Republican senators; 27 Republican senators voted for it. His vote was stupid; he imagined something in the Constitution that prevented the government from protecting individuals with “equal protection” and “due process” (constitutional provisions, 14th Amendment) that extended protection of civil rights especially in public accommodations.

Unlike George Will, I didn’t leave the party because it left me. I hung in there and helped squash Goldwater even as I worked in the Republican campaigns of  myriad congressional and state legislature candidates. Except for Goldwater I was a Gung Ho Republican in 1964.

The day after Goldwater was crushed, I started to work on the 1966 campaign. That was a great year for Republicans. Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California as was George Romney in Michigan. Raymond P. Shafer was elected Governor of Pennsylvania. Nelson Rockefeller was reelected Governor of New York, Governor Jim Rhodes was reelected in Ohio.

Richard Nixon crisscrossed the country helping Republican candidates while building a reservoir of support for his victorious 1968 presidential campaign.

In fact, Nixon’s 1968 victory would have been larger if Alabama segregationist Governor George Wallace hadn’t quixotically campaigned for president and carried southern states that would have otherwise voted for Nixon.

The elections of 1966 and 1968 were absolute proof that an American political party can survive a disastrous election that crushes an outlier candidate and his ideologue followers. 

The victors of those elections controlled the party and, in fact, the country until the Watergate scandal drove Nixon from the White House and birthed the two men most responsible for the nascent ruin of the country accelerated by President Barack Obama. They are President Jimmy Carter and four-term California Governor Jerry Brown (nee Edmund G. Brown Jr.).

Between them they plunged the country downward with their introduction of larger government and public employee unions.

Moving forward to 2016, we have George Will’s abandonment of the Republican Party and announcements by Republican heavyweights including former National Security Advisor General Brent Showcroft, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage that they will vote for Hillary Clinton.

Between now and November, many other Republicans will announce they are voting for Hillary Clinton. Some will announce they are voting for former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate for president.

My announcement: I will not vote for Donald Trump. I did not vote for Barry Goldwater.
Like the day after the 1964 rout of Barry Goldwater, I will join others to pick up the pieces of my party, the party of Abraham Lincoln and help put together a Phoenix-like rise of a new energetic and principled Trumpless Republican Party that will re-take the presidency in 2020.    

Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant. He was formerly with the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate. Contreras's books are available at Amazon.com

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