Tuesday, September 26, 2006

First Republicans Emerge From Darkness

Last May, AI commented on the disappearing act that the First Republicans Forum did after it was launched a year earlier with the mission of restoring the Republican Party to its traditional roots. AI is happy to report that the group has re-emerged, with a set of principles, hoping to impact the direction of the Indiana Republican Party. In a press release issued this week, the group says:

A growing Indiana Republican political organization released today a set of 14 principles they believe represent the ideals of the moderate wing of the Republican Party. First Republicans Forum was formed in response to divisive opinions within the party on several social issues, and kicked off with an event last year at which Christine Todd Whitman was keynote speaker. Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, also served as Director for the Environmental Protection Agency during the first term of President George W. Bush. She resigned over disagreement with the president regarding US policy on global warming.

“We are not a single issue organization, nor do we all agree on every issue,” said Syd Steele, an Indianapolis attorney who serves as chairman of First Republicans Forum. “Our name says that we are first of all, Republicans, because we are fiscal conservatives. The name was chosen also because of our strong affinity for the ideals of the early Republican Party that Abraham Lincoln helped start,” he added.

Two important principles of the First Republicans Forum read as follows:

“First Republicans believe that government derives its power and authority from the individual, and that each person’s ability, dignity, culture, religion and freedom must be honored.

First Republicans believe in equal rights, equal protection, equal justice, equal opportunity and equal responsibilities for all people, regardless of race, religion, creed, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or national origin.”

“Having our board of directors reach agreement on these issues is big.” said Chris Douglas, a member of the group who participated in drafting the principles. “Moderates are not usually very vocal or assertive when it comes to politics. Working to put these principles on paper helped members articulate how we want our policy makers and elected officials to govern.

“Generally speaking, moderates also want more civility, tolerance and statesman-like behavior during campaigns. “Looking over someone’s record of votes or achievements is one thing. Outright character assassination is another,” he added.

First Republicans Forum has established a blog (http://www.firstrepublicans.typepad.com/) to promote its perspective on politics and government. The group intends to poll current federal, state and local candidates, using the principles as a measure, before issuing endorsements prior to the upcoming November election. One principle the group anticipates may be perceived as essential is a candidate’s agreement or disagreement with one of the principles that concerns separation of church and state. It reads:

First Republicans believe the separation of church and state enables people of all faiths and beliefs to coexist peacefully and religion to flourish in America, freeing us from religious strife and affording us domestic tranquility that is enduring and historically unprecedented. Religious principles must not be legislated.

“Our forefathers knew firsthand the struggles that ensued when one religious group worked to dominate policy or –even, each other. The fact that we do not have a national religion is no mistake,” said Melissa Martin, president of a local public policy marketing and advertising firm that has long been involved with the Republican Party.

“There are a lot of people out there who say they are independent, who are fiscal conservatives and social moderates. They may not have been able to figure out where they belong. They belong with us.” She added.
AI likes what the First Republicans Forum stands for. It is, afterall, what has been advocated on this site for the past eighteen months. It is encouraging that House Speaker Brian Bosma's law partner, Syd Steele, is chairing the group's efforts. If only Steele could get Bosma to understand how wrong-headed his determination to enact a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and other benefits to unmarried couples is, that would be a good start for the group. Unfortunately, it's too late to make a difference in this election. Also, if the group is to succeed, it must be willing to reach out to a much broader group of people than the very small group it currently consists of. That is what inclusion is all about, isn't it? Otherwise, it will go away like another similar group, Republicans for a Better Way, did about a decade ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have genuine admiration for anyone trying to affect change from within.

But inside Marion County, these good folk are swimming upstream, to put it mildly.

The Hinkles, Murphys, Schneiders, et al have sucked all the oxygen out of the Cooperation Room.

And the Pfister, Bradford, Ricketts, et al faction has done likewise from the Brain Room.

From the other side of the fence, and from someone who values Loyal, Civil Opposition, I wish the First Repubs nothing but luck.