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What is a Republican? Coming to you Live from Ottowa County, Michigan

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

(By Guest Contributor, Brian VanDussen, Father of 4, married 25 years. Business owner 20 plus years. Hosts a podcast once a week with former State Rep Dave Agema. Loves God, Family, and Country. Check him out at his podcast,

In 1854, The Republican Party was born out of a small single room schoolhouse in Ripon Wisconsin. The Whig Party was very prominent, but it too had fractions within the group, especially when it came to slavery. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was the final straw. It was the strong-hold to slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act allowed the states to decide if they were going to be a free state or a slavery state. This dissolved the Missouri Compromise and the Whigs who were against slavery disbanded and started reaching out in territories to the north.

First Party Platform

Here is an excerpt from the first Republican Party Platform in 1854:

“Resolved: That while the constitution of the united states was ordained and established by the people, in order ‘to form a more perfect union, established justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty,’ and contain ample provisions for the protection of the life, liberty and property of every citizen, the dearest constitutional rights of the people of Kansas have been fraudulently and violently taken from them. - Their territory has been invaded by an armed force; - Spurious and pretended legislative, judicial, and executive officers have been set over them, by those whose usurped authority, sustained by the military power from the government, tyrannical and unconstitutional laws have been enacted and enforced; - The rights of the people to keep and bear arms has been infringed; - Test oaths of an extraordinary and entangled nature have been imposed as a condition of exercising the right of suffrage and holding office; - The right of an accused person to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury has been denied; - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, have been violated; - They have deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of the law; - That the freedom of speech and of the press has been abridged; - The right to choose their representatives has been made of no effect; - Murders, robberies, and arsons have been instigated and encouraged and the offenders have been allowed to go unpunished; That all these things have been done with the knowledge, sanction and procurement of the present National Administration; and that for this high crime against the Constitution, the Union, and humanity, we arraign that the Administration, the President, his advisors, agents, supporters, apologists and accessories, either before or after the fact, before the country and before the world; and that it is our fixed purpose to bring the actual perpetrators of these atrocious outrages and their accomplices to a sure and condign punishment thereafter.” Source: Republican Party Platform of 1856 | The American Presidency Project (

Republican Party Platform of 1856
Download PDF • 106KB

This was all a pretext to the civil war that would take place in 1861 and last until 1865. Kansas and Nebraska were joined as one territory. War had broken out here in 1854 between pro-slavery and antislavery advocates. This small civil war lasted until 1859 and as the new Republican movement was making its way north it rested in Jackson, MI – the birthplace of the Republican party in Michigan, although some will argue it was the birthplace of the party’s existence. The Republican platform is what America should be and provides the foundation for every American to reach their full potential. But even as they were struggling with differences within the party in 1854, it is no different now. We have been infiltrated by moderate Republicans and Democrats over the years and this has had a direct effect on the party platform to the extent there isn’t a true definition of what is a Republican. Our vision for America is vastly different from the progressive liberal and Ronald Reagan said it best:

“Two visions of the future, two fundamentally different ways of governing their government of pessimism, fear and limits, or ours of hope, confidence and growth. Their government sees people only as members of groups. Ours serves all the people of America as individuals.”

Present Day

After reading the party platform from 1854, I feel that they were living present day 2020. We were faced with a man-made virus and a summer filled with BLM/Antifa running the streets burning buildings and businesses with no punishment. The press was lying about what was happening while suppressing the truth on social media calling us all conspiracy theorists. To this day, citizens have been denied a speedy trial from the aftermath of a peaceful protest at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Now we find out the government has suppressed the truth about what transpired that day. We had tyrant governors denying our right to go to work, school or church and mandating masks on children which did nothing to stop the virus. The Republican platform is there to guide our policies. It is no different than the Bible guiding our political views. We stand on principle and by allowing our party to be ruled by those against the platform is only causing more division. The world is changing but our principles should remain the same. If you don’t like the party platform, leave but don’t expect us to bend to moderate Republicans (RINOs) or liberals and expect us to change our views. When has compromising with Democrats ever move the needle to the right? Never!

Here in Michigan, Republicans lost the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years. Some say it’s because of how “extreme” we’re becoming or it’s Trump’s fault, but I believe, (outside of election fraud) they lost what they once were. In Ottawa County, where I reside, it is the fastest growing county in the state. It is because of those Christian principles which makes it one of the most conservative counties in Michigan. It has become a destination county because of its heritage and a great place to raise a family. We had a local government changeover from more liberal commissioners to very conservative because we were sick of the games being played. They supported DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and created a department focused on it. They removed it. It is racist and divisive in its title alone. We had a previous administrator that was ok with forced mandates and shutdowns. This isn’t freedom at all nor part of our platform. The new commissioners brought in a new administrator and a strong constitutional legal group.

Everything goes back to 2020 when COVID brought out the sleeping majority. We stormed the commissioners' meeting with over 1000 Ottawa County citizens fed up with direction by the local health department and commissioners. This brought in new precinct delegates for one of the largest increases in a single term. Thus, The America First agenda was born.

The same America First delegates that took over Ottawa County, took over the State Convention in February by electing its first black women chairperson of the Republican Party of Michigan. Kristina Karamo was a statewide figure after running for Secretary of State but losing to Benson in the general election. She has charisma, defined goals and is a warrior for God. Her tenacity and grit are contagious. There are critics, however, even within our own party that question her qualifications to lead the party and to raise funds.

Why can’t we trust that God has put her there? Why would it be different when God put a lowly shepherd boy David as the king of Israel. Did he have the experience? There is a reason God has allowed it. Can’t you trust Him? Your nominee lost the convention and somehow God is no longer on the throne? Instead of in-party fighting, why aren’t you more worried about what is happening now in our current legislature?

As I write this, this is what we are up against in Michigan:

  • Universal background checks for shotguns and rifles. Red Flag laws for gun owners.

  • Mandatory gun safety storage at home.

  • Repealing of the right to work law. Reinstating the prevailing wage law.

  • LGBTQ discrimination added to the Elliot Larson Civil Rights Act.

  • $630M Tax appropriations for Ford plant and Chinese technology.

  • Repealing 1931 abortion ban.

  • Extend gun free zones to any government owned or leased building.

  • Remove reading retention for 3rd graders to be allowed to move up in grade.

Republican Core Values

The first Republican president Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation and the adoption of the 13th Amendment. We gave women the right to vote with the addition of the 19th Amendment. It’s the reason Ottawa County changed its slogan to “Where Freedom Rings.” It encompasses all. Prosperity happens through low taxes, regulatory restraint and less government. We need to have a strong, robust military, peace through strength. We understand that we have inalienable rights that come from God. That life is important and to fight for the unborn. That marriage is between a man and a woman. Now we’re giving awards in sports to men parading as women. We believe homosexuality is a sin and only two genders exist. Hate the sin but love the sinner and I admit the Christian community has done a poor job with this. We can let them live and let live if they aren’t pushing their agenda on us. But now we have Drag Queens reading books to little children, why? It is because we are pushing God out of everything we do. Parental rights are being ignored. We hold tight to our right to bear arms. You see, the government thinks it is their job to provide work for you, give you healthcare, supply income, and finally, take care of your children. That is the definition of socialism.

President Trump reminded us that the love of country is a good thing. It was a huge revival of American Patriotism. Now you could argue his rhetoric was a bit much at times, but it didn’t overshadow what he did for America. His policies were on target and hadn’t been seen since Reagan. He fought for the unborn, religious freedom, lower taxes, less regulation, economic prosperity, low unemployment, almost zero inflation, energy independence, border security and a strong military. I was only a small child in the days of Reagan, but I’m glad to have witnessed what a true Republican is and how it benefited all Americans.

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(A son of the godfather of the Republican party and of the author of the thirteenth amendment of the United States constitution, which abolished slavery—the late Jacob M. Howard, United States senator from Michigan.)

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Apr 04, 2023

The parallels between the original Republican platform and present day events hits home the expression that while history does not repeat itself, it rhymes.

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