Can you name the 10 Commandments? Most readers are probably like me who can name several, but might not be able to get all of them. Therefore the two that are listed first might surprise you for their premier positioning.
You shall have no other gods before Me. 2. You shall not make idols.
This makes sense historically and religiously. The Israelites were surrounded by people who worshiped all kinds of idols and the message of solidarity united in the belief of our Creator had to be first.
It seems that the second of these Commandments, however, has been forgotten by many in the Republican Party. The idolatry of the Right fixated on individuals has long confused me, especially with its blatant religious contradiction, but needs to be addressed now that it has a local example as well.
Underlying the way some conservatives trend toward obsession with individuals is a feeling that conflict is heresy. This isn’t new. Past contrarian conservative leaders were also attune to wanting to crush dissent, but were far more diplomatic about their approach.
The most famous example of this was Vice President Richard Nixon, who was seen as more conservative than the moderate President Dwight Eisenhower who he served with. Nixon wanted to secure his nomination to succeed his boss in 1960. To do this, Nixon had to fight a challenge from the moderate wing represented by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
The result was what became known as the Treaty of Fifth Avenue. Nixon defeated Rockefeller through compromise and communication. This approach seems nearly unthinkable in today’s Party.
One local Republican club this week illustrated how hard conflict-averse the Party is by sending out an email claiming, “the GOP is too devisive [sic] time to ‘team up’”. The sentiment is as wrong as the spelling.
The first line implies that the elimination of multiple viewpoints in favor of a singular one is the goal. I’m all for teaming up behind nominees and working as a Party, but the Party is undoubtedly strengthened through multiple views working in conjunction, and ultimately sometimes in conflict, with one another. We have to embrace, not eliminate this uncomfortable fact.
Unfortunately, it has become exponentially harder to foster a diverse viewpoint culture the more entrenched loyal supporters have become of individuals. Chances are if you only entered politics around 2016, then it might be hard to imagine what someone could be loyal to other than individual elected officials or candidates. Again, the Treaty of Fifth Avenue serves as the example.
Nixon and Rockefeller came to an agreement about changing the Party platform, not anything to do with who they were as individuals. Part of why this might feel so foreign to some is because locally our Party platform is incredibly ill-defined.
It seems to focus entirely around social issues that circulate among national media pundits, such as the frequent question from clubs about a county commissioner’s view of gender use in public bathrooms.
Assuming that nothing is going to be changed in the short run, what can be done to promote a more prosperous Republican Party locally? The answer comes back to idolatry.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but one that can’t help raise eyebrows is the way that Inverness City Council candidate John Labriola has become a close follower of Republican district 2 nominee Diana Finegan. He often posts a photo that he took of her from election night to his newsletter as well as his group’s website and his campaign logo is nearly identical to hers.
For a self-proclaimed Christian conservative, his disciple-like following of her is borderline
Commandment breaking. The situation gets more serious when a quick search of Broward County court records show Labriola has had to appear for stalking violence in 2014 and repeat violence a few months later.
This type of behavior can’t be tolerated. Finegan should disavow rather than embrace Labriola to start curbing cultish behavior forming around individuals. The Citrus Republican Party then needs to make its platform clear and open debate regarding its stances.
Whether it is the 10 Commandments or the Republican platform, some in the local Party feel absolutely lost when it comes to acting appropriately, yet this unruliness is the direction our Republican establishment is trending. It doesn't need to be stopped - good people share beliefs this faction of the Party has - but it does need to welcome a voice to debate it.
The intention of this column is to get that conversation started.