All Maine Matters

March 2006



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Struggling with GOP Membership
By Ray Richardson

As you may have heard, I have been struggling with my membership in the Republican Party. I have struggled because I have loved this Party for as long as I can remember and it has pained me to see it stray so far from its foundation and its ideals. I went so far last week as to get a voter registration card with the idea to “quietly” un-enroll, becoming an Independent. So much for that plan as word leaked out to a point where I had to address it on my program Friday morning.

I have been a Republican in spirit since I was ten years old and a Republican in fact since I was 18. Being a part of this Party and the ideals it has stood for has been a very important part of my life. I worked for Richard Nixon’s re-election in 1972 by going door-to-door handing out fliers (no, my parents did not push me, the reason is a long story for another day), did just about everything you can think of for Ronald Reagan during his two elections and have supported the current President Bush as much as I can.

I have loved being a Republican because, like being from Maine, it means something. The ideals of the Republican Party have always represented the very best about being an American. Lately, however, the principles have been compromised and the identity has been muddied. Our mantra used to be “This is what we believe and we want you to join us in our cause which is noble and just.” Unfortunately it has become “What do we need to do to get you to join us.” I reject that idea. Its adoption has watered down our identity to the point that most Mainers and most Americans have a hard time telling the difference between a Democrat and a Republican. It made me consider leaving this Party that I love, but after much soul-searching, I refuse to be driven out of my Party by those who do not truly believe in the ideals that we have long held.

What I haven’t figured out is why this trend started. Is it because we lost a few elections and became more worried about winning than being true to our beliefs? I know something about that. Every mistake I have ever made, every consequence I have ever suffered is because I abandoned what I believed, even when I realized that is exactly what I was doing.

What good is winning elections, gaining the majority which allows you to set the agenda, if when you get there, those who make-up your majority do not share your ideas? Pandering for votes is the worst offense an elected person can commit. It means that winning the election is more important than serving the best interest of your constituents. What has been accomplished if you think you elected an elephant, but once they got to office, you realize you really elected a RINO?

The Republican Party has historically stood for great ideals and attracted people to the Party because our cause was/is noble and just. I am not a “big tent” Republican because I believe we do not adjust our principles simply to attract new members. Does that mean we don’t accept those who do not share our foundational ideas? Of course we accept them; however, we do it by drawing them to our noble cause, not by changing who we are for a few lousy votes.

The Republican Party has always been Pro-Life, Pro-Opportunity, Pro-Equality (meaning merit and character, not anything else) for Limited Government Intrusion in our lives, Limited Taxation and giving our neighbors a helping hand up when they are in need and a kick in the pants to get them going when they need it. We also believe in a strong economy that allows us to prosper and gives us the ability to support and provide for those who are not capable of providing for themselves. We believe a strong military is our surest course to safety at home and abroad. We never lost a battle because we are too strong.

There is more and I will continue to talk about these ideas. They are larger than any one person and transcend time. Being a Republican, like being an American, should mean that your membership identifies you and your values. Changing those values because some pollster said the wind is blowing a certain way on a certain day is wrong.

People want to be a part of something that is larger than they are. People are attracted to an organization because of its ideals and what it places value in.

I invite you to join the Republican Party, not because we asked you what you need us to become for you to join, but because we have stood on a set of ideals that has inspired you and made you want to be a part of a cause that is noble and just.

Ray Richardson is the host of the WLOB Morning News heard weekday mornings on News/FOX WLOB. For almost a decade, Ray has been one of a very few conservative newspaper columnists in the State of Maine. He serves as the Chair of the Westbrook Republican Party and sits on the Cumberland County GOP Executive Committee. He is a grassroots political activist whose activities reach back well over two decades in Maine and Florida. Ray has organized over 50 rallies throughout Maine, focusing on issues such as limited government, lower taxes, support of our troops, and the war in Iraq. Ray lives with his wife Dee Dee and their four children in Westbrook.

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