There is a “war going on in this country for the soul of America,” bellowed Pat Buchanan to the Republican presidential nominating convention in 1992. Twenty-five years later, that fight re-emerges, exacerbated by the eccentric presidency of Donald Trump, who does not know how to unite a political party, let alone a deeply divided nation.

In 1858 the nation careened towards inevitable civil war. Noted political consultant Larry Sabato, professor of political science at the University of Virginia, thinks we may be repeating that period of history now. That is how shocking Sabato found the actions he witnessed in Charlottesville by some misguided neo-Nazi youths. I think that’s an over-reaction, but nonetheless a sickening warning to all of us.

It is unfortunate that our leaders like President Trump and Maine Gov. Paul LePage ignore the need for complete rejection of a disgusting element of society. If they were more articulate and possessed any political finesse, they would instead be able to prove their assertion that the censure and erasure of history accomplishes nothing. If anything, defacing and tearing down statues and plaques recognizing the history of the Civil War only deepens the divide between red and blue states.

Caught in the middle of recent protests is a wounded Republican Party. The Civil War, President Lincoln and a divided Republican Party freed the slaves. Today the party is once again divided, not over slavery but between conservatives and moderates. President Ronald Reagan said, “a political party cannot be all things to all people. It must represent certain fundamental beliefs which must not be compromised to political expediency or simply to swell its numbers.”

In conservative icon Buchanan’s “Suicide of a Superpower — will America survive to 2025?”, he laid out the case to the Republican Party again in 2011. “America is disintegrating, The one nation under God, indivisible, of the Pledge of Allegiance is passing away. In a few decades, America will be gone forever. In its place will arise a country unrecognizable to our parents.”

The demographics are undeniable. In the Los Angeles school system, English is not the first language of 75 percent of its students. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, about half of all students come from homes where English isn’t the first language, and many need help from interpreters to complete their work. Their parents are suing the school system for more interpreters in the classroom.

In his book, Buchanan pointed out three reasons for the disintegration of America. First is the loss of our cradle faith, Christianity. From that has come the moral, social and cultural collapse caused by that loss.

The third reason is the slow death of the people who created and ruled this nation. The author, adviser to presidents and a former candidate for president himself, made the argument: “As our nation disintegrates our government is failing in its fundamental duties, unable to defend our borders, balance our budgets or win our wars.”

Polls show that after eight years of President Barack Obama, four of five Americans believe we are on a wrong course. That our best times are behind us. Twenty-five to 30 percent of our youth do not call themselves Christians. The parent culture is gone, and by 2042 white Americans will be a minority. That has already happened in London. These statistics make immigrant assimilation to American values after arrival here more critical than ever to our way of life.

If the Republican Party is to survive, then a vigorous campaign must be launched immediately to define the “soul of the party.” Republicans must market better the enormous benefits of social and fiscal conservatism. Embrace traditional Judeo-Christian family values — including sanctity of life. Practice fiscal restraint with balanced budgets. Limit taxation. Provide the strongest military possible and support, unequivocally, law enforcement’s “thin blue line.”

Promote the free enterprise system, with opportunity for all. Insist on limited government. Respect history. Oppose illegal immigration. Reject social engineering and progressive-liberal attempts to turn America toward socialism. Unite to put faith in God back in our schools and our society.

All of this is some of what should define what it means to be a Republican in America. Lincoln said, “Our cause must be entrusted to and conducted by its own undoubted friends — those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the work.”

Reagan left a message for leaders like Trump and LePage. “If the Republican party is to stand against injustice, it must be clear in its understanding of justice and injustice, and present itself as an unmistakable alternative to injustice.”

Reagan said it all: “If the Republican party abandons its principles for the sake of victory, then it has already lost (it’s soul).”

Don Roberts is a veteran broadcaster, writer and political consultant. He has served Augusta as a city councilor at-large, charter commission vice chairman and utilities district treasurer.

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