Should the Republican Party be Declared Illegal?
The Communist Control Act of 1954 made the Communist Party USA illegal, along with being a member or promoter of it. President Eisenhower signed the Act into law on 24 August 1954. There were few objections to it at the time. Even Senator Hubert Humphrey, Minnesota’s Liberal Lion, not only backed it but helped write it declaring that the Party was “the root of evil.” The Act’s only major opponent, other than the ACLU, was, strangely enough, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who argued that making the Party illegal would drive it underground where it would be harder to deal with. It should be noted that the most enthusiastic proponent of the Act was the Republican Party which had made tons of political hay out of fighting the Red Menace between 1946 and 1954.
The Act made being a Party member punishable by a $10,000 fine, 5 years in prison, and loss of American citizenship. A few attempts to implement the Act were tried at first but ended up being inconclusive. It was forgotten until 1973 when a Federal Court in Arizona ruled it unconstitutional in the case of a defendant who tried to use it to keep the Party’s candidate off an election ballot. The court’s ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which failed to take it up. Thus, the Act is still on the books and some legal experts contend that it is still enforceable.
So, could the same thing be done to the Republican Party of the United States today? The main arguments for declaring the Communist Party illegal were that it was a threat to American Democracy, was aided by a foreign power hostile to the United States, and publicly advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government. There was a fair amount of proof that all of those things were true. Some of that proof was in the form of public speeches and propaganda distributed by the Party itself. One of the best arguments against the Act was that the Party was so small and inept as to be almost pathetic. That while it might advocate the violent overthrow of the U.S. government, there was no prospect that it would ever be able to do so.
The Republican Party is neither small nor inept, and as it is supported by a thundering herd of millionaires and billionaires, it is not in need of financial support from any foreign powers, hostile or otherwise. It could also be argued however that it, or rather its leader, President Donald Trump, has accepted, and even publicly encouraged, the aid of a hostile foreign power, namely Russia.
And that he has sought to undermine American Democracy by both word and deed. And that a number of members of his administration have done the same. And that a number of prominent Republican officeholders have also done the same. And as for the overthrow of the U.S. government, any person who, like Trump, suggests publicly in front of a bellowing mob that if he is not personally satisfied with the results of the coming election, he will refuse to leave office, is surely coming very close to advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government. Not to mention his advocacy of breaking federal and state laws by voting more than once, and his attempts to interfere with the electoral process by sabotaging the U.S. Postal Service to prevent the delivery of absentee ballots, and his threat to deploy poll watching thugs to intimidate voters. Among other things.
And the only defense the Republican Party can field against being tarred by the same brush as their surly leader is to make ludicrous excuses for his intemperate rants. To say things like “I wish he wouldn’t,” and “If only he’d,” and “I don’t quite agree that.” But as much as they wriggle and ramble and try to duck, there’s no way they can escape the cold hard fact that they are Trump’s captive party. Even the two or three Republican “rebels” who sometimes suggest that they may oppose Boss Hog crumble when it’s time for the rubber to meet the road.
Subversion of Democracy and the electoral process is not a new thing. It predates Trump. There have been electoral shenanigans before in America. Elections have been stolen before. Not often, but it has been done. However, it hasn’t been done three times in the last 20 years by the same political party. Their 2000 theft was similar to previous historical ones. A close election in one of their states. A difficult much-delayed ballot recount. A friendly Chief Justice and a majority on the Supreme Court…and our guy’s the winner! Wonder how that happened? And 2016? Foreign meddling (but c’mon that’s ‘fake news’). Ridiculous gerrymandering. No polling places in minority neighborhoods. The Internet Russian trolling was a new wrinkle, but the rest was as old as Birth of a Nation Dixie including playing the antiquated Electoral College to squeeze a fat victory from a 2.8 million popular vote loss.
And the third time? Not quite yet, but the fix is already in. Same thing as four years ago only more so. Red State governors and legislatures and supreme courts hard at work manipulating the electoral process to produce another great Republican triumph at the polls even if the Party loses by ten million popular votes this time. If that isn’t attempting to overthrow the U.S. government, I don’t know what is. But getting rid of Trump is not enough. And getting control of the Senate is not enough.
Getting rid of the Republican Party is the only thing that can save America, even if we have to trample on some of our most cherished rights to do so. Desperate times require desperate measures, and this is the most desperate time in America since the Civil War. A war during which no less than Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. America needs two political parties. A ruling party and a loyal opposition. A loyal opposition, not an opposition that will do anything up to and including overthrowing the government of the United States to keep itself in power.
Destroy the Republican Party and rebuild a new party loyal to the Constitution and our ideals of Democracy from its ashes. Perhaps among those ashes, a more moderate and sensible Republican Party can be found. Perhaps among those who have left the Republican Party the core of a new vibrant party can be assembled.