How Matt Blunt and Republicans can return to the party of Lincoln

The words of Colin Powell at the Republican Convention in 1996 echo in my memory.

"The Republican Party must always be the party of inclusion. The Hispanic immigrant that became a citizen yesterday must be as precious to us as a Mayflower descendant. The descendent of a slave or struggling minor in Appalachia must be as welcome and must find as much appeal in our party as in any other party or in any other American life. It is our diversity that has made us strong. Yet our diversity throughout our American history has also been a source of discrimination, which we as guardians of the American dream must rip out branch and root.

"It is our party, the party of Lincoln, that must always stand with equal rights and fair opportunity for all. And where discrimination still exists, where the scars of past discrimination still contaminate and disfigure the present, let us not close our eyes to it and declare there is a level playing field and hope that it will go away by itself. It did not in the past. It will not in the future. Let the party of Lincoln be in the forefront, leading the crusade, not only to cut off and kill discrimination, but to open every avenue of educational and economic opportunity to those who are still denied access because of their race, ethnic background or gender."
- Colin Powell

Analysis of the Democratic playbook today seems to steal the Republican legacy of the past few decades. It’s a legacy of inclusion temporarily lost. Last month I ran into Missouri’s Lt. Governor Peter Kinder in the Hilton Hotel Lobby. He was having a hard time pulling himself out of a book he was holding. The book was a biography of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Kinder cited tales of one the nation’s most powerful judges with childhood glee.

We tend to think of the civil rights movement as the domain of the Democrats, but applying the politics of inclusion is the domain of the Republicans. They fought the ERA but when it came time to elect the first female Supreme Court Justice it was Ronald Reagan that introduced Sandra Day O Connor. The induction was the result of a question Reagan asked, "What can I do for the women of America?"

When Alan Keyes was campaigning earlier this year to become the next Republican presidential candidate, he resurrected the spiritual dialogue of Republicans past who fought against the tyranny of slavery and applied it to economics.

The income tax in effect makes us vassals of the government. No mere "reform" of this slave tax can correct its fundamental denial of control over our own money. Only the abolition of the income tax will restore the basic American principle that our income is both our own money and our own private business — not the government's. Replacing the income tax with a national sales tax would rejuvenate independence and responsibility in our citizens.
– Alan Keyes.

Some cite the nations most racist group identify themselves with the Republican party though the KKK movement during the early 1900’s was exclusively Democrat. Near the time James Brown wrote, “I’m Black and I’m Proud”, he endorsed President Richard Nixon. To Brown, equality meant an even playing field and opportunity for all.

Missouri’s founding circumstances mark a distinctly negative turning point when it comes to race politics in America. The “Missouri Compromise” was a compromise of the nation’s moral fortitude. The public record shows an unrepentant state.

Other moral compromises have already received the benefit of gubernatorial apologetics. Missouri’s Mormon history allowed the legal murder of citizens for acknowledging a prescription of faith.. Some historians propose it was the organizations stance against slavery that inspired Missouri’s Governor Lilburn W. Bogg’s to implement executive order number 44 in 1838 which resulted in the rape of Mormon Women and legal execution of Mormon men.

In 1977 Governor Christopher Bonds rescinded Bogg’s order and issued an apology, yet the compromise of 1820 remains unaddressed.

The purpose of this article isn’t to belittle Democrats. In many ways, Democrats promote a Christian ethic, considering the cause of the “least of us”. To undermine their contribution to the politics of inclusion would be grossly unfair.

My point is the politics of inclusion aren’t the Democrats sole domain and is a concept the Republicans need to embrace if they hope to bring new members into the fold. The philosophy of economic freedom has appeal to people of all ethnicities.

The Missouri Compromise marked the end to slavery in the United States above 36 degrees latitude and it’s time we raise the bar. Governor Matt Blunt says he’s done everything he set out to do as governor. Perhaps, he could take it a step further and ask what he can do for minorities in the tradition of Ronald Reagan – who appointed Conner to promote gender reform.

Perhaps, he could lead the charge back to the roots of the Republican party. Perhaps, he could help abolish some of the pain of our past by condemning the actions of leaders past who embraced slavery. Perhaps, it’s time Republican’s take the mantle of Lincoln back.

It could start here. It could start with Governor Matt Blunt issuing a formal apology for the sin of slavery. Perhaps, in doing so, Governor Blunt can help the party heed Powell’s cry and help the Republican party return and repair the mantle of Lincoln.