Republican Party, 1854-2021?
Donald Trump has found himself a hobby while sequestered at Mar-a-Lago. Destroying the Republican Party. The same hobby he had when he was America’s amateur commander-in-chief. His only serious interest in life is glorifying his own bloated ego and obliterating his many enemies. As was said of the Antichrist which he so closely resembles: “He will destroy those who oppose him and will eternally destroy all who believe and follow him.” And he has plenty of help. Including many of those whose names are on his hit list, or soon will be.
But can a whole American political party be destroyed? To be sure, many political parties have come and gone over the years. The Federalists (1789-1824), Whigs (1833-54), Know Nothing’s (1854-58), and the Populists (1892-1908) to name but a few. But none as large or long-lived as the GOP. And none as promising at the time of its creation. A party dedicated to suppressing the spread of slavery whose first salvo was the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 which gave the new states and territories of the West the right to decide by popular vote whether they would be Slave or Free, and dissolved the foul Missouri Compromise of 1850 which drew a line on the map to the West Coast declaring that all the land south of that line, including most of the newly acquired Mexican Cession, was Slave regardless of what its inhabitants wanted.
The Republican Party that supported emancipation in 1854 is shot through with racism today. The Republican Party that fought for the “little guys” of the Midwest (then called The West); the farmers, the small businessmen, the laborers, against the moneyed interests of the Eastern Banks and Railroads. The same men who Republican President Theodore Roosevelt called “the malefactors of great wealth,” now stand for none of those high principles. In fact, it is hard to say what the GOP stands for now.
During the 14 years of the dead-handed leadership of Mitch McConnell, it has stood staunchly against everything except cutting taxes to the rich, eliminating government regulations, and shrinking all Federal agencies except the Defense Department.
It is no surprise that President Joe Biden proposes going after big corporations that pay no taxes and park their profits offshore. Nor that he seeks to raise taxes on people with incomes exceeding $400,000 a year to finance his New Deal infrastructure programs. Those are the only two groups that the Republican Party currently serves. The 1%, or perhaps not even that. Most of the rest of the Party faithful are suckers along for a ride to oblivion. Donald Trump, who fired them up with his politics of hate and division, is now turning them against their own Party.
This leaves Biden free to concentrate on the positive while his opponents tear each other apart and their Party bleeds to death from a thousand cuts. No hands across the aisle to help him with his work, but as the GOP sickens that may not be a problem. No Republicans bold enough to buck Trump and his deluded cult followers; or to go toe-to-toe with the GOP’s Fascist right-wing of Libertarians and T-Partiers. But that doesn’t matter now. The Party is too far gone to save.
Surely the Democrats face a tough road ahead but they have the best possible field general to lead them. He’s old and gray and battle-scarred, but he remembers how democracy used to work before it became trench warfare and gridlock. And he knows where all the levers of power are in Washington. He’s a plugger and a fighter, and he never gives up. And a man of the people whose previous battles have been fought in their interest. And he knows that he’s holding the high ground.
His legislative agenda may not be completed by 2023, but that will not deter him. He needs to strengthen his Party’s position in Congress, but he doesn’t need to strengthen it all that much. An additional Senate seat will end Joe Manchin’s solo performances. He needs only to hold his Party’s ground in the House. The political winds are at his back. All he has to do is keep them there, and carry the aggressive campaign operation of 2020 forward to 2022.
Meanwhile, the Republicans are busy flogging their familiar “keep out the vote” song and dance routine in red-state legislatures. We’re already getting an annoying dose of their worn-out rhetoric. The same game plan that netted them big losses in 2020 is being trotted out yet again. But what can you expect from a dying Party clinging desperately to the big lie of “The Stolen Election”? The only new twist I’ve seen from them so far was their selection of South Carolina Senator Tim Scott to present their rebuttal to Biden’s recent address to Congress. Imagine that! An eloquent Black Man as spokesman for a race-baiting Party. And he was good too. A powerful speaker…but he didn’t have much to work with. Like a college debater given the task of arguing in favor of the proposition “The Earth is flat.”
There was a time when I hoped that the Republican Party would come to its senses and mend its ways. America needs a two-party system. It will need one even more after the GOP dies. I’ll mourn the Party when it’s gone, but it will not be the Party of Trump or McConnell or even Mitt Romney that I’ll miss. It will be the Party of Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, and the Bushes-both of them…and George Romney. The Party of moderate sensible practical men not bombastic hateful demagogues.