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If presidential hopeful Rick Perry should awaken one night in a cold sweat with the Ghost of Republican Past hovering by his bedside, the apparition will likely take the form of Sen. Charles Percy, who passed away on Saturday after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
Percy's political career ended when he lost his Illinois Senate seat in 1984, the same year that future Texas Gov. Rick Perry won his first election to the Texas House of Representatives as a Democrat. Charles Percy's fall from GOP wunderkind to party outcast offers a vivid illustration of the Republican Party's mutation from a vibrant and diverse coalition to the dogmatic cult of conservative ideology that it has become today.