This question has come up since I have been weeded out by the core, extreme Republicans, as they have found my ideology wanting. I expressed the need for this country to finally solve the problem of caring for its sick, and doing away with the ugly for-profit health care "system" that exists currently, replacing it with a single-payer system and thus saving our country billions of dollars, and millions of lives.
How do we define Republicanism? By the core? Should we allow it to be encircled by the focused interiority of those most fervent--and most fanatical? Should those who do not adhere to every single jot and tittle of the party platform hang our heads and retreat to the desert region of our foes? (And would they admit us, or also vanquish us as not being suitable for their use either?)
Does fanaticism define the party unit, or something more reasonable, something more rationally defined?
Let me consider for a bit the following position: Republicanism--nor any political system, including the religious sphere--can be defined by a fanatical adherence to a set of core principles. Why? Because a political system by its very nature must be a repository of ideas, a vessel, if you will, which holds a collection of values. A vessel holds, it does not mainly restrain. A vessel brings in, it does not mainly withhold. Yet, it must be argued, a vessel containing a multitude of cracks cannot hold much. Another way of stating this, is to say that you might throw any such stuff within and call it whatever you will. Too little, too small a set of ideas, and you would not even need a bowl to hold them. Too many ideas and they spill over the side or through the many cracks. You may call whatever remains what you want but someone else will gladly call them something else: a would-be mess.
So it is clear that a party of ideas is a vessel, a bowl, that contains more than a small set of core values, but not so many that it becomes too-much-to-name. There is then an essence, a set of ingredients that most (but NOT all, for that again would distill to too small a number) might then agree to.
Another way of stating this is by using an alternate metaphor: A political party is like water. Too contained it becomes fetid; too unleashed and wild it becomes a muddied, raging river. Just right would be a very clear mountain stream, clean and clear enough to drink safely, but moving fast enough to change in time and carry away the dross.
By stating that I am not a Republican because I have one idea wrong, those fanatics have revealed themselves as being bathed in fetid waters. The ideas do not get exposed to the air of conversation and dialogue. They sink, and inevitably they stink of rottenness.
Ideas must be alive, they must be tossed about from mind to mind otherwise they rot like corpses. We keep them alive through dialogue, especially dialogue with others who do not share the ideas within our own vessel. This sharing is important, vital to not only our nation but ourselves. Sharing is part of being human, but sharing only within our own set vessel of opinions is not truly sharing, but an inbreeding resulting in defective ideas and defective selves.
In a post on The Dish (Sept. 12, 2011), Andrew Sullivan writes:
If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government ... then the GOP is no longer your party or mine).
Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-economic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don't even listen.
So thinking through this problem I am a bit heartened at feeling that it is I that am the true Republican, and they that would weed me out are the truly--what to call them? The defectives. They grow rank and fetid in their little bowls, mildewy and corrosive.
You will know them by their smell. They reek of all that is ugly and extreme and fanatical. By their fruits you will know them: their branches are bare.