This piece will be appearing in newspapers in the very red congressional district (the VA-06 of 2012) in which I ran for Congress in 2012. The Republican Party had already become possessed by “A Sick and Broken Spirit” by that time. But, to paraphrase the old line, “We hadn’t seen nothin’ yet!”
I’ve given this op/ed the title, “The Devolution of the Republican Party.”
The Devolution of the Republican Party
Not so terribly long ago, the Endangered Species Act was passed unanimously. Now the Republicans are trying to undo that national commitment to avoid driving other creatures into extinction.
Likewise, renewing the Voting Rights Act was once accomplished automatically by both parties. But then the Republicans began to fight it.
Raising the debt ceiling was something the two parties joined in doing automatically for decades -- until the Republicans started using it to threaten to drive the nation into default if their demands were not met.
Similarly on matters like clean water.
Again and again, the change in the Republican Party has moved the nation from consensus to conflict.
How can it happen that good people would support such a Party, which is showing such an ugly face?
Then there’s the Leader this Republican Party is on the verge of choosing as its standard bearer, who
- has successfully insisted that the Party support his Big Lie, proven false in countless ways.
- has been found by a jury to have committed what meets the legal definition of rape in a civil trial.
- has been indicted 91 times, in different jurisdictions, by grand juries made up of regular American citizens.
What does it say about the Republican base that the more the American system of justice proves the crime this Leader committed, abusing his presidential powers, and works to hold him accountable, the more fervently his supporters rally to him, eager to make him President again?
Never before this era would the Republican Party tolerated having people like Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, and Marjorie Taylor Green dominate the whole Republican caucus in the House of Representatives.
A Party in which things are so often just the opposite of what they claim to be.
- A “Party of Freedom” that the American majority thinks has wrongly taken away an important freedom of American women.
- A Party of “Law and Order” that postures as caring about “crime” while supporting a criminal’s obviously false claim of innocence.
- A Party that claims to want to “Make America Great Again” that has done deep damage to the stature and reputation of our nation in the world.
- A Party that wears the mantle of Christianity, while acting directly contrary to Christian moral teachings.
Regarding that last point, regarding the rampant problem of hypocrisy that plagues this “conservative” world, consider this bit of history of the new Republican Speaker of the House – Mike Johnson.
Some years back, now-Speaker Mike Johnson declared that, “The ultimate goal of the enemy is silencing the Gospel.” The “enemy” he meant referred to was a non-Christian family that had sued to stop the public schools compelling their children to participate in Christian prayers.
But who is really here – obviously – the “enemy” attacking the gospel?
Christianity’s Golden Rule say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Surely this new Speaker, this theocrat willing to impose his beliefs on everyone, this hypocrite—surely Mike Johnson would not want his own children to have to be subjected to Islamic prayers, or Hindu?
The Gospel says that if Johnson would not want done to his family what the schools were doing to the non-Christian family whose children were being compelled to attend the prayers of a religion different from their own, then – as a good Christian, honoring the Golden Rule – Johnson would support the petition of the people he calls “the “enemy,” and accuses of wanting to “silence the Gospel.”
Anyone who imposes his religion on others is clearly in violation of Jesus’s central moral teaching. As one would not wish to be oppressed, so the central moral teaching dictates that one will not oppress another.
But this Congressman – chosen by the whole Republican caucus to lead the one part of the government that Party controls – who sees himself as representing the Christian ethic in American public life, is the one who is violating that fundamental principle—the Golden Rule.
(That Rule is Golden because a huge percentage of the world’s problems would disappear if everyone were to practice it—and it is a simple notion that everyone can grasp.)
The problem of hypocrisy extends further. Thirty years ago, the Republican Party was the one that emphasized the importance of Good Character.
That Party has now devolved to the point that integrity can get you kicked out of the Party. Liz Cheney was fired from her position of House leadership for refusing to betray her sacred oath and serve Donald Trump instead, despite what was clear about Trump’s assault on the Constitution to overturn a legitimate American election. For her integrity, Cheney was then kicked out of her congressional seat altogether in a primary where the base elected someone who’d abet Trump in his Lies and Crimes.
All this ugliness is staring everyone right in the face. The Party no longer even postures as embodying anything positive. Various hatred and resentments abound. But one can find nothing that this Republican Party loves.
One can readily make a list of what this Republican Party is fighting against. But one looks in vain for some vision from this Party for how America can become ever-better, how the nation might move toward a better future.
“Owning the libs” is apparently a sufficient political strategy.
What enables good people to support such a party?