“We [the GOP] were founded as a reformist party,” he [Rove] said in our conversation this week, “not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead.” ~Michael Gerson
Er, actually, the party of “free labor, free soil, free men” was very much founded in direct ideological opposition to slavery and self-interested economic opposition to the low-tariff-supported agricultural interests of the South. The GOP never had any interest in helping the “little guy” as such, and remained from its earliest days largely the protector of business and corporate interests through support for an impressively high import tariff, and then when multinationals needed lower tariffs the GOP dutifully became the party of “free trade.” (Yes, there were also progressive Republicans who challenged some of the excesses of corporate power, but they did not define the party for most of its existence.) This just might be why the “little guys” over the decades have tended to vote Democratic, and why it has only been a very recent development that the GOP has been winning over any of these voters thanks to nationalist, culturally populist and socially conservative appeals. These voters come to support the GOP in spite of its continued privileging of the interests of corporations. Perhaps someone could pen an argument in defense of this longstanding support for corporate interests (in which the words growth, progress, technology and modernisation would probably figure prominently), and make the case why it is better to put the government at the disposal of these interests for some greater good, but to describe the primary vehicle of corporations’ political influence as an organisation founded for the sake of helping the “little guy get ahead” is just appalling revisionism (even by the very, very low standards of Karl Rove).
Update: Incidentally, it used to be an old stand-by of Republican rhetoric that it was not the proper role of government to “help the little guy get ahead.” Instead, the goal was to remove the burden of government to allow citizens to flourish.