In Brief: Photos That Teach Us What Bastards Republicans Have Become:
If you wanna know just how far to the right the Republican Party has slithered, let's learn about someone you may not have heard of: Mary Louise Smith. Smith was named by Gerald Ford to chair the Republican National Committee in September 1974. That's the RNC, the same organization that used to be chaired by Michael Steele and is now chaired by Reince Priebus, which is really just a couple of nonsense words. That dashing young man up there handing Smith the gavel is the retiring RNC chair, George H.W. Bush. He would later be president. He had already fathered the engineer of our national demise. Later in her career, Smith would campaign for the elder Bush. David Broder would call her one of H.W.'s "biggest supporters."
But this is about Mary Louise Smith of Iowa, the first woman to chair the RNC. See, the funny thing is that she was a pro-choice, pro-Equal Rights Amendment member of Planned Parenthood at the time she was given that gavel. In fact, "Smith served on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood of Mid-Iowa from 1986 through 1992, and in 1989 she also became a member of Planned Parenthood Federation of America's National Leadership Committee."
In the 1980s, she kept trying to pull the GOP back from the brink of extremism, telling ABC News in 1984, "I'm sorry that [the GOP] seems to have swung so far to the radical right." In 1987, about Pat Robertson running for president, she told the Washington Post, "If the Republican Party lets itself be taken over by fundamentalist religious views and it becomes almost exclusively that, it will survive for a little while and then self destruct, because it won't provide a foundation of a party." Would that she had been right.
Yes, we used to be a more liberal nation overall. But the overarching goals of the Democratic Party have changed less than the seismic shift in the Republican Party. As it lurches back to the age of Hoover, it has left behind a history where there actually was a tent big enough for a Mary Louise Smith.
Note: The photo is from the New York Times on September 21, 1974.