The Republican Party, also known as the GOP, came into existence in 1852 for the very best of reasons: to attack slavery. It ceased to exist sometime between 1990 and 2000, when it was hijacked and held hostage. The cause of death was that well known malady, hardening of the categories. In the words of the poet, T. S. Eliot, it died, "not with a bang but with a whimper."
The hijacking was engineered by a political operative named Grover Norquist, who, in 1986, promoted The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, consisting of the promise to "oppose and vote against any and all efforts to raise taxes." GOP members then lined up and signed it, thus contributing to the disappearance of the GOP and to the appearance in its place of a new political party, the GNP (Grover Norquist Party).
Grover Norquist runs a lobbying organization in Washington, Americans for Tax Reform, with what seems to a single purpose to oppose taxes. Clearly, he is after bigger game. He was once quoted as saying what he wanted was to shrink government down to a size where it could be "drowned in a bathtub." Journalist Will Greider quotes Norquist as saying "my goal is to bring America back to where it was up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over." In a recent appearance on a New York Times web-cast, Norquist conceded that the government needed some funding, enough for "a military strong enough to keep the Canadians on their side of the border."