Are you a former Republican trying to understand today's GOP? You are not alone. It seems that only the elephant remains.
Nixon, during his administration, indexed Social Security for inflation, and increased Medicare spending, boosting government benefits from 6.3 percent to 8.9 percent of GNP, and slashed defense spending from 9.1 percent to 5.8 percent of GNP. Two ideas that would be considered sacrilegious to today's GOP.
He established the EPA as well, the same agency today's GOP wants to eliminate. He also introduced a comprehensive health-insurance-reform bill that included an individual mandate and called for a government-run "public option."
Reagan, although he campaigned on lowering taxes, after 1981, raised taxes nearly every year: 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986 and grew federal employment by more than 60,000. He passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which eventually granted amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants.
Then there was Gerald Ford who, when discussing abortion in a 1998 interview with Larry King, called himself "pro-choice" and later, in 2001 discussing gay rights, said "I think they ought to be treated equally, period."
George H.W. Bush's final budget increased the marginal tax rate, and phased out exemptions for high-income taxpayers. He also passed a law that increased legal immigration to the U.S. by 40 percent. Remember, he wound up bailing out the savings-and-loan industry with $126 billion in taxpayer money as well.
The confusion comes when trying to equate today's evangelical, post-George W. Bush administration's GOP to the GOP gone bye. The new GOP, born to G.W. Bush, who saw himself as Vicar-in-Chief but whose administration was reduced to puppetude by the triumphant three horsemen (Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) is an entirely new species.
Ryan's budget and Romney's flip-flopping makes one wonder if today's GOP emblem should be a Trojan elephant.