The Future of the GOP
In an essay, “Boycott the Republican Party” (The Atlantic, March, 2018), two impressively credentialed, obstinately non-partisan political observers suggest that, “If conservatives want to save the GOP from itself, they need to vote mindlessly and mechanically against its nominees.” The reasoning behind this thought-provoking essay by Jonathan Rauch and Benjamin Wittes is that the Republican Party has essentially lost its way, become unhinged from its basis in conservative democratic principles and that, until the public soundly rejects the GOP at the polls, the party will continue to undermine and subvert our democratic (small-d) foundation and will pose an ongoing threat to the nation. They argue that such a foundation is non-partisan, beyond both policy and ideology. Rather, it is the bedrock upon which our country was established and has maintained itself for the past 242 years.
As further evidence to support this notion, I would point out that, among those bedrock principles of a healthy democratic society is the right of its citizens to elect their leaders and representatives without interference from foreign intruders and without partisan thumbs on the scale. A party that must, in order to win elections, resort to jury-rigging election laws, institute voter ID measures, close polling places in ethnically diverse locales, and create pretzel-twisted gerrymandering of districts, is a party whose viability is obviously unsustainable.
Racial and cultural demographic trends do not favor the GOP as currently constituted. Our population is growing increasingly less European/Caucasian and more non-European. The GOP’s answer to this trend has been not to favor policies that appeal to this new demographic reality, but rather to labor at all costs to impede immigration from non-white countries. Thus, they institute a “travel ban” against Muslim countries and insist we build a wall. (Note that they do not suggest building a wall along our northern border, only the southern one.) They abhor DACA because it gives legal status to “dreamers,” and they would restrict family members from immigrating―so-called chained migration. When it is noted that such policies are racist, GOP leaders throw up their hands in disingenuous protest. When the constitutionality of such measures is questioned, they remain stubbornly determined to sacrifice the constitution, if only to ensure their tenuous viability for another season.
The US needs a strong and viable conservative party to balance a progressive/liberal approach to social policy. We need reasonable controls on the purse strings to ensure our government doesn’t overspend while trying to become all things to all people. It is healthy to encourage people to become as personally responsible for their choices and their well-being as possible and to support them in that effort. Citizens are healthier and happier when they feel thus empowered.
Lately, the GOP has failed to be that sound, conservative voice. They pass a “tax reform” policy that gives $1.5 trillion to corporations and to the wealthiest 1% without any means to pay for it. And so the government must now issue $1.5 trillion in bonds to cover the cost. This is hardly conservative. Nor is it either viable or sustainable.
I wholeheartedly agree that is time to teach the Republican Party a lesson at the polls and then hope the party will finally come to its collective senses and regain its principled place in our democracy.