Michael Zak

By early 1877, the only federal troops remaining there were in the state capitals of Louisiana, South Carolina and Florida, protecting the Republican governors from Democrat mobs. As the price of the presidency, the Republican nominee in 1876, Rutherford Hayes, agreed to withdraw those troops and so allow Democrats to seize control. Of course, had Democrat nominee Samuel Tilden won, this would have happened anyway. Forgotten today is the fact that, losing 185-184 in the Electoral College, Tilden was soon discovered to have offered a $50,000 bribe to a Republican Elector. Outrage at the Democrats’ duplicity would contribute to the Republican landslide in the next presidential election.

Just as the Radical Republicans faded away, enacting the 1875 Civil Rights Act just before their flame flickered out, so did the Reagan Revolution. Will the energy, tax and trade reforms passed at the last-minute by the 109th Congress prove to be the final achievements of the Reagan legacy?

All too often, Republican leaders act as if our Grand Old Party was born the day they were. In fact, anti-slavery activists created the Republican Party in 1854, to oppose the pro-slavery policies of the Democrats and to lay the foundation for the modern American economy. The year 2004 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Republican Party, yet hardly anything was done to commemorate the event. February 23rd of last year was the 150th anniversary of the Republican National Committee, yet the RNC rejected my suggestion that they celebrate the event. Just think of the magnificent public relations, outreach and fundraising opportunities that just slipped away!

How can Republicans expect voters to place their confidence in them when they lack confidence in their own heritage?

The way for Republicans to take the political initiative once again is to embrace their true heritage and rediscover the zeal, the determination to be found in the founding principles of our Grand Old Party: free minds, free markets, free expression, and unlimited opportunity.


Michael Zak

Michael Zak's article is adapted from his book Back to the Basics for the Republican Party.

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