GOP morphs from Party of Lincoln to party of the Confederacy

Of all the pundits and politicians from whom we've heard during the past 24 months, letter writer Alan Walden came the closest to articulating a reasonable explanation for voting Republican in the 2012 election ("A stranger in his own land," Nov. 9). As an enthusiastic supporter of President Barack Obama, I nonetheless share many of Mr. Walden's concerns about giving to the undeserving and a retaining a healthy distrust of centralized power. I suspect that he and I would be friends were we to meet over dinner. Yet we are political opposites, and I am wondering if Mr. Walden has failed to process the transition of the Republican party from being the party of Lincoln to the party of the Confederacy.

The GOP of the 21st Century, like the Confederacy of the 19th, preaches individual liberty while attempting to impose cultural uniformity — essentially the right to be exclusionary — and it has alienated anyone who has friends or family members who are immigrant, minority, or gay. The day has finally arrived, it appears, when those outside of Mitt Romney's America outnumber those within, and it has come not a day too soon for me. The hope of America is diversity. It always has been. Our Constitution was a child born of many mothers from disparate lands and political interests. We have forgotten the enormous cultural gulf that existed between those early American citizens of European descent — British, German, Norwegian, French — and their ability to come together to form a political union under what is still the greatest Constitution in human history remains the greatest political achievement in human history.

I think that Mr. Walden finds himself a stranger in his own land only because he has forgotten that it has always been this way, and that this is what America is supposed to be — a place where anyone of any shape or description has equal rights under the law. The fraud and abuse that he sees among the undeserving is as obnoxious to me as it is to him and to every other taxpaying citizen, but it is up to us to root it out just as earnestly among the corporate and agricultural recipients as among the urban and rural poor. And as obnoxious as it is, that kind of abuse of this society's good intentions is not what poses a threat to America's greatness. What does pose a threat to America's greatness is imagining us to be a native culture threatened by those from without, and a culture that if left to its own devices would somehow regulate itself — the two great myths of the modern GOP.

Mr. Walden is a civilized man. He needn't be a stranger in his own land or his own home. His home has just gotten bigger when he wasn't looking. And guess what? It's a better place to live.

Mark Thistel, Baltimore

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