The 1976 platform was not just about foreign policy; 1976 was the first Republican National Convention when the emerging pro-family movement raised its voice in politics.
The 1976 platform opposed "intrusion by the federal government" in education and called for constitutional amendments to restore prayer to schools and "to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children."
The 1976 Platform showed the country that the majority of Republicans disavowed the so-called moderates and liberals — those we now call RINOs, Republicans In Name Only — and were determined to rebuild the Republican Party on conservative principles.
After the 1976 convention, Helms made his life's work the most important of all issues: foreign policy. A great senator from a previous generation, Robert A. Taft, who is memorialized by a carillon tower on Capitol Hill, explained the importance of foreign policy like this: "We cannot clean up the mess in Washington, balance the budget, reduce taxes, check creeping Socialism, tell what is muscle and fat in our sprawling rearmament programs, purge subversives from our State Department, unless we come to grips with our foreign policy, upon which all other policies depend."
Helms became conservatism's conscience at the helm of U.S. foreign policy for the rest of his public life. During the Reagan years, Helms was the Senate leader in supporting our anti-Communist allies in other countries.
During the dismal Clinton years, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Helms was Horatio on the Bridge, valiantly defending America against the busybody international bureaucrats who want to curtail U.S. sovereignty. Helms saw to it that most of the disastrous United Nations treaties never reached the Senate floor or were defeated, including the International Criminal Court Treaty, the U.N. Treaty on the Rights of the Child, the U.N. Treaty on Women, the U.N. Global Warming Treaty, and the U.N. Biodiversity Treaty.
Helms fought foreign aid to communist countries, stopped extravagant handouts to the United Nations, and defeated President Bill Clinton's worst diplomatic appointments.
We are told that no one is irreplaceable, but that may not be true in the case of Jesse Helms — there isn't yet any other national leader like him. We will surely miss him every time a U.N. treaty or an undeserving nominee surfaces in the Senate.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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