From the 2004 commencement speech by Congressman Jim Ryun, R-Kan., at Patrick Henry College.

There is a flow to history, and as time advances, and generations come and go, if we take the time to look behind us into the pages of history, we can see this flow. As scripture says, "That which has been is what will be; that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." If we look back in history, we can find lessons that will give us guidance for the future.

Today I speak to you as a Christian and a Republican Congressman who is honored to be serving the people of the 2nd District of Kansas. My time in Washington, DC has allowed for many wonderful opportunities, but it has also given me a chance to become intimately acquainted with the political scene in our nation's capital. Because of what I have observed, I have grown concerned over the issue that I believe will in the end, if we are not circumspect, cause the downfall of the Republican Party and ultimately the nation as well.It is the issue of moral strength, the idea of having the moral character necessary to make difficult decisions under tremendous pressure.

To give perspective to my concerns, and to speak of what I know best, I need to delve into the history of the Republican Party and why it initially came to be. To do that, we must first take one more step back into the pages of history. Almost exactly 170 years ago, the Whig Party came onto the American political scene. Initially formed in 1833 as an alliance between the Northern and border state National Republican Parties, the Whig Party was led by such political icons as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

But something happened, known as the Compromise of 1850. The fundamental issue was in regard to the admission of slavery into, or the exclusion of slavery from, the region of Texas and the western states such as California, Nevada and Utah. In the Compromise, the North and South were each given concessions. Instead of satisfying anyone, the Compromise of 1850 instead fractured the Whigs along pro- and anti-slavery lines, and in 1852, the anti-slavery faction within the Whig Party, furious at Fillmore's compromising, had enough power to deny Fillmore the party's nomination.

Out of the Whigs' ruin came the Republican Party, based on ideals, and driven by the belief that all men, black or white, are created equal. The Republican Party took the high ground on the slavery issue, and because of this, men quickly rallied around it. In the 1860 Presidential election, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican President.

But I tell you this history to illustrate a point. Because of human nature, history inevitably repeats itself, and now the Republican Party finds itself facing a crisis similar to what the Whigs faced 150 years ago. Based on political pragmatism, the Whig Party signed the Compromise of 1850, taking the middle ground on a moral issue. It was a decision based solely on pragmatism, and even then, it was a poor political decision. In reality, the Compromise essentially postponed the Civil War for 10 years.

Today the Republican Party is faced with its slavery issue, and that is the issues of abortion and same sex marriage. Written into the Republican Party platform is the belief that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," that "Republicans support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."

The platform also speaks to the issue of marriage: "We support the traditional definition of 'marriage' as the legal union of one man and one woman, and we believe that federal judges and bureaucrats should not force states to recognize other living arrangements as marriages." The reason we as Republicans believe so strongly in traditional marriage is because we know that the family is the cornerstone for our civilization, and like the Founders of this great nation, we believe the home is the most important institution for instilling the values that will sustain our democratic republic. As we face the issue of defending marriage today, we must realize that if we allow traditional marriage to be destroyed by not fighting same sex marriages and civil unions, it will be the beginning of the end of the American story. But with so much at stake, the Republican Party seems to have lost its moral compass.

To clearly illustrate the dilemma, recently in the Republican Senate Primary race in Pennsylvania, the pro-choice Republican, Arlen Specter, who refuses to defend traditional marriage, faced a formidable challenge by the pro-life, pro-family candidate, Pat Toomey.

I believe the race is a microcosm of the challenges facing the Republican Party. A pro-life President and pro-life Senator, Rick Santorum, actively campaigned for Arlen Specter, aggressively pushing his re-election based on political pragmatism; principle was checked at the door. The President's reasoning was that Specter's winning of the Republican nomination for Senate would help the President win the state this fall. Santorum's reasoning was that Specter would help Republicans maintain the majority in the Senate. In both of those equations, principle and the party platform were ignored in the face of political expediency.

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