How is it that the party of Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Herbert Walker Bush and Olympia Snowe has been hijacked by the likes of Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh? Why is the Republican Party now perceived as anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay, anti-women and anti-middle-class?

Too many Americans now believe that Republicans are the party of the rich, by the rich and for the rich, period. Moderate Republicans need to reassert themselves and bring some sanity to the current discussions about immigration reform, tax reform, gun control and the economy.

Rick Santorum, now the party’s self-proclaimed leader, essentially lost the presidential election for Mitt Romney by touting extreme and even irrelevant issues — such as his personal opposition to birth control. The important focus on the economy, jobs and the deficit was lost.

The Republican Party can start 2013 by proposing legitimate spending cuts, including cutting the enormous amount of wasteful (and, yes, obscene) spending at all levels of government. Unfortunately, at the federal level, congressional Republicans, like Democrats, are just too prone to bringing home the bacon to their constituents and also providing major tax breaks for their friends, usually individuals or corporations that have lined their pockets.

It’s time to cut the fat and the hypocrisy, and Republicans should take the lead. And everything should be on the table, including entitlement programs and defense spending. We can cut spending without breaking the backs of the middle class.

“Compromise” is not a dirty word. It’s part of the fabric of our government and the art of governing. The late Republican statesman Everett Dirksen understood this, and so does our own Olympia Snowe.

Drawing the ideological line in the sand over every single issue may ultimately spell doom for the party. In addition, there is no place for demagoguery — Rick Santorum, take note.

The Grand Old Party isn’t dead yet!

John Cross is a resident of Tenants Harbor.