The current party preaches fiscal responsibility, but for many years they have outspent the Democrats, and it has been decades since a GOP president has balanced the budget.
The party controls the House, who has the government checkbook. And what does the GOP do with that fiscal power? Not only does the GOP not cut spending, but it also threatens not to pay the bills they have run up — along with their Democrat colleagues, of course.
The party seems to be bought and sold by the NRA, even after recent mass murders, including the shooting of one of their colleagues.
Some Republicans want to put armed guards in all of our schools, but what then about our churches, movie theaters and sporting events? I admit that, from the pulpit, I would have the best shot — but I would probably take out the back pew instead.
Most Republicans seem to wax nostalgic about Ronald Reagan, forgetting that what George H.W. Bush called Reagan's "voodoo economics" began our deep descent into national debt.
President Reagan inherited a national debt of under a trillion and then increased it three-fold. To his credit, in light of horrible deficits because of cutting taxes without cutting spending, President Reagan raised taxes many times, which present conservatives conveniently forget.
George W. Bush seems to have been vaporized, like so many politicians in George Orwell's classic novel, "1984." Plus, the bookends of his presidency are 9/11 and the financial collapse. So, no role model here! He did not even appear at last summer's national convention.
How about Dwight D. Eisenhower as the new role model for the GOP? He balanced budgets, got us out of the Korean War and did not get seduced by the French to get us into Vietnam. He resisted his generals five times when they wanted to nuke other countries.
Ike built the highway system we enjoy today, a model which we need to consider now as we debate our crumbling infrastructure. The rich paid close to 90 percent in income taxes and few complained in the midst of prosperity.
President Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, which has dominated Congress and the White House ever since. He tried to get a civil rights bill passed, but it was sunk by the Southern Democrats. He put into place the technology that took us to the moon and gave us the Internet. He stood up to Southern governors who tried to keep black children from going to school alongside white children.
The chief thing President Eisenhower as a role model could bring to our current politics is a sense of decency and civility, both sadly lacking in Washington today. He was a faithful Presbyterian, but unlike many members of the present GOP, he did not shove religion down our throats.
The GOP currently uses religion as a sledgehammer against those who are not "pure" on issues such as abortion, taxes, homosexuality and gay marriage. The GOP uses ideology to cower fellow party members who don't follow the NRA's rigid thinking about assault weapons and magazine clips.
Lastly, Eisenhower served in the military, unlike most members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Mitt Romney did not serve, nor did any of his five sons. President Obama also did not serve in the military. Service in the military should be seen as a political asset in a time of frequent wars and pork-barrel spending on weapons we no longer need.
If the GOP embraced its past of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower, and learned from them what should be priorities for America — instead of its present obsessions — independents like me might give the party a close look, especially in light of our No. 1 crisis, our national debt.
Even my children, who will inherit this debt, might give the GOP another look.
Unless the Republican Party begins to attract young people, more women, minorities (who in time will no longer be minorities) and gay people, the party will go the way of the Whigs — the path they seem to be on at present.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist